Best foods for weight loss

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Last updated Dec 17, 2022

You’re trying to lose weight and around every turn all you hear is this piece of advice about food and that piece of advice on what to eat, where to eat, how to eat, and more. Losing weight doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, confusing. Whether you’re attempting weight-loss by eating right and moving more or food restriction, such as low-carb diets, there are foods for everyone who wants to lose weight.

One of the top questions when it comes to weight loss is – what do I eat to lose weight? Some plans will claim you have to eliminate carbs or fats; another claims eating non-acidic foods work, and yet another claims all these are false, and you need to eat nothing but raw foods. With so many options out there, how can you tell the best foods for weight loss?

What Are the Best Foods for Weight Loss?

Weight loss can seem like a stressful process. There’s lots of conflicting diet advice on what to eat to lose weight and how to lose weight naturally. To lose fat, you have to take in less energy than you use. The best way to do this is to eat natural weight-loss foods, which are low in calories but give you energy and keep you full.

Your body needs a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients to survive. Best foods for weight loss are the foods that provide these nutrients without extra calories from added sugar or fat. Unsaturated fats, which are known as “healthy fats,” are an essential part of a healthy diet and can help with weight loss because they’re very satiating. However, all fats are high in calories, so you should only consume a limited amount.

Protein is important for building and maintaining your muscle mass, so the best foods for weight loss and muscle tone have lots of protein.

Carbohydrates give your body energy, which will help you be more active. If you want to have successful workouts, your best foods for weight loss and energy will be carb-heavy foods like fruit and whole grains. They aren’t as satiating as fat or protein, though, so you shouldn’t over-consume them.

If you like to eat large volumes of food, you should pay attention to water content. The higher a food’s water content, the more volume it will have per calorie. Some of your best foods for weight loss are more than 90 percent water, which means you can fill up your plate with them for very few calories.

Here we’ll go into detail about the best foods for weight loss, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, proteins, and more.

The best fruits for weight loss

Let’s start off with the sweet side of your diet – fruits. There are hundreds of varieties out there to choose from, with differences between agricultural regions. Here are some of the most popular weight-loss foods available in most areas.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit contains about 90 percent water, which is one of the highest water contents of all fruits. It’s low in calories for its size, and it provides a large percentage of your daily values of vitamins A and C.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 42 calories
  • 11g carbs
  • 1.6g fiber
  • 0.1g fat
  • 0.8g protein

Cherries

Cherries are a good source of vitamins A and C, and they contain lots of antioxidants, which makes them one of your best foods for weight loss. They also contain melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycles.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 50 calories
  • 12g carbs
  • 1.6g fiber
  • 0.3g fat
  • 1g protein

Berries

Berries are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. They can help control your blood sugar and protect your nervous system.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 33 calories
  • 8g carbs
  • 5g fiber
  • 0.3g fat
  • 0.7g protein

Pink Lady Apples

All apples are good sources of antioxidants, but a pink lady apple has particularly high levels. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, and one of the overall best foods for weight loss.

  • Nutrition per apple:
  • 72 calories
  • 19g carbs
  • 3.3g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 0.4g protein

Watermelon

Watermelons are about 92 percent water, so you can eat a large volume without consuming many calories. Like most other fruits, they’re high in antioxidants, which protect your body from cellular damage.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 30 calories
  • 8g carbs
  • 0.4g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 0.6g protein

Nectarines

Nectarines are one of your best foods for weight loss because they’re high in vitamins and antioxidants. They also have lots of fiber, which is helpful for digestion and appetite control.

  • Nutrition per nectarine:
  • 63 calories
  • 15g carbs
  • 2.4g fiber
  • 0.5g fat
  • 1.5g protein

Peaches

Peaches are among the most delicious and best foods for weight loss. For low-calorie food, they’re high in potassium, which is important for heart health. They also contain antioxidants and vitamins A and C.

  • Nutrition per peach:
  • 59 calories
  • 14g carbs
  • 2.3g fiber
  • 0.4g fat
  • 1.4g protein

Plums

Plums are a great source of fiber and potassium, and they’re one of the best fat-burning foods. They help your body absorb iron, which is necessary for oxygen circulation in your blood. Without enough iron, you’ll feel tired and lethargic, and exercising for weight loss will be difficult.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 46 calories
  • 11g carbs
  • 1.4g fiber
  • 0.3g fat
  • 0.7g protein

Blueberry

Blueberries, especially wild blueberries, are near the top of the list of best foods for weight loss. They contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, and potassium, and they’re one of the best sources of antioxidants.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 57 calories
  • 14g carbs
  • 2.4g fiber
  • 0.3g fat
  • 0.7g protein

Banana

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They’re slightly higher in calories than most other fruits, but they’re satiating. You can eat them before a workout to get an energy boost and to prevent muscle cramps.

  • Nutrition per banana:
  • 105 calories
  • 27g carbs
  • 3.1g fiber
  • 0.4g fat
  • 1.3g protein

Oranges

An orange contains lots of natural sugar, so it’s one of the best foods for weight loss and energy. One orange provides more than 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. The food is nutritious, filling, and good for your immune system.

  • Nutrition per orange:
  • 80 calories
  • 19g carbs
  • 3g fiber
  • 0g fat
  • 1g protein

Pear

Pears are full of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, which makes them one of your best foods for weight loss. Fiber makes fruit more filling, so pears are a good low-calorie snack option to eat between meals.

  • Nutrition per pear:
  • 102 calories
  • 27g carbs
  • 6g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 0.6g protein

Guava

Guavas are an even better source of vitamin C than oranges, with one fruit containing over 200 percent of your daily value. The fruit is also very versatile and makes a great healthy dessert to include in your weight-loss plan.

  • Nutrition per guava:
  • 38 calories
  • 8g carbs
  • 3g fiber
  • 0.5g fat
  • 1.4g protein

Best vegetables for weight loss

Now we have fruits under the belt, it’s time to look at vegetables. Nearly all vegetables are safe and effective for weight loss – though some high-calorie options do exist and no food remains healthy if topped by unhealthy amounts of sauces or spreads.

A quick list of the best vegetables for weight loss includes:

Any Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are one of the best sources of vitamin A, iron, and magnesium. They’re extremely low in calories, so you can eat a large volume and easily stay within your calorie goal.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 23 calories
  • 3.6g carbs
  • 2.2g fiber
  • 0.4g fat
  • 2.9g protein

Peppers

Bell peppers are among the sweeter vegetables, so they’re a good addition to soups or salads. Their high water content makes them low in calories, so they’re high up on the list of best foods for weight loss.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 20 calories
  • 4.6g carbs
  • 1.7g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 0.9g protein

Chilis

Most people eat spicy chili peppers in small quantities, but they can still provide lots of vitamins and nutrients. Adding spicy foods like chilis to your meals can slow down your eating speed, which can help you eat smaller portions.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 40 calories
  • 9g carbs
  • 1.5g fiber
  • 0.4g fat
  • 1.9g protein

Onions

Onions are one of the lowest-fat vegetables, so they’re one of the best foods to eat for weight loss. They have high water content and a low caloric density, so you can use them to add volume and flavor to your meals.

  • Nutrition per onion:
  • 44 calories
  • 10g carbs
  • 1.9g fiber
  • 0.1g fat
  • 1.2g protein

Cucumber

Cucumbers are very low in calories, so they make a great snack or salad ingredient. Because they’re mostly water, they don’t provide as many nutrients like some other fruits and vegetables. However, they do contain some vitamin C and magnesium.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 15 calories
  • 3.6g carbs
  • 0.5g fiber
  • 0.1g fat
  • 0.7g protein

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are mostly made up of water, so they’re one of the best healthy foods to lose weight. They have fairly high fiber content, so they’re surprisingly satiating for how low-calorie they are.

  • Nutrition per tomato:
  • 16 calories
  • 3.5g carbs
  • 1.1g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 0.8g protein

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of your best foods for weight loss because they have lots of protein in a low-calorie serving. Incorporating mushrooms into your diet will help you feel full and maintain your muscle mass as you lose fat.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 22 calories
  • 3.3g carbs
  • 1g fiber
  • 0.3g fat
  • 3.1g protein

Carrots

Carrots are the best plant source of vitamin A, which is important for a wide variety of body functions. They also have lots of fiber and potassium.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 41 calories
  • 10g carbs
  • 2.8g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 0.9g protein

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a great low-calorie source of fiber and protein, which makes it one of the best foods to eat to lose weight. It has a mild, neutral flavor, so you can season it or roast it with sauces to make delicious, healthy meals for weight loss.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 25 calories
  • 5g carbs
  • 2g fiber
  • 0.3g fat
  • 1.9g protein

Lettuce

A serving of lettuce contains almost your entire daily value of vitamin K. It’s one of the lowest-calorie and best foods for weight loss, and adding salads to your meals is a helpful way to stay full and eat a higher volume of food.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 15 calories
  • 2.9g carbs
  • 1.3g fiber
  • 0.2g fat
  • 1.4g protein

Best protein foods for weight loss

You have a pretty good start to your menu with lots of fruits and vegetables for weight loss. Now, at the heart of the meal is the protein. Protein tends to have higher calorie counts than fruits and vegetables, so choosing the best proteins for weight loss is important.

Legumes

Legumes are a large group of plant foods that are contained within a pod. Most legumes are high in protein and fiber, so they’re some of the best plant-based weight-loss foods.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams of green peas:
  • 81 calories
  • 14g carbs
  • 5g fiber
  • 0.4g fat
  • 5g protein

Beans

Beans fall into the legume category, but these foods are exceptionally high in fiber. You can eat beans to feel satiated and to get protein without consuming unhealthy fats.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams of black beans:
  • 347 calories
  • 63g carbs
  • 16g fiber
  • 1.2g fat
  • 21g protein

Eggs

Eggs are one of the overall best foods for weight loss because they’re extremely filling, and they provide lots of protein and healthy fat. They’re also one of the most versatile foods, so you can make a variety of different recipes without getting bored of them.

  • Nutrition per egg:
  • 78 calories
  • 0.6g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 5g fat
  • 6g protein

Pork

Pork is mostly made up of protein, so it’s one of your best foods for weight loss if you want to build muscle or maintain your muscle mass. It also contains other important nutrients and minerals like thiamin and selenium.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 297 calories
  • 0g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 20.8g fat
  • 25.7g protein

Lamb

Lamb contains lots of B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, and protein, which makes it one of the best foods for weight loss and muscle tone. A small serving will provide many micronutrients for a low number of calories, and it’s a good alternative to other red meats.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 294 calories
  • 0g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 21g fat
  • 25g protein

Chicken

Chicken is near the top of the list of best foods for weight loss. It’s lower in fat than most other meats, and it’s an excellent protein source.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 151 calories
  • 0g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 3g fat
  • 31g protein

Salmon

Salmon is one of the best foods for weight loss and fat burning. It’s full of omega 3 fatty acids, which improve your bone and joint health. This can help you make your workouts more powerful, which can speed up your weight loss.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 208 calories
  • 0g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 13g fat
  • 20g protein

Cod

Cod has one of the highest protein contents per calorie of all foods, which makes it one of the healthiest and best foods for weight loss. It’s one of the lowest-fat protein sources as well.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 82 calories
  • 0g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 1g fat
  • 18g protein

Sardines

Sardines are one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids, and one serving provides plenty of protein. It also contains vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, and calcium.

  • Nutrition per 100 grams:
  • 208 calories
  • 0g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 11g fat
  • 25g protein

How much protein are you getting from that 2-ounce portion of salmon? Is that enough to keep you full, or is the portion size too small?

Sample menu using best foods for weight loss

Now you have a list of the best weight-loss foods, but how do you combine them into meals throughout the week?

Breakfast

  • Scrambled eggs with vegetables: three eggs, one tomato, 50g spinach, and 100g bell pepper
  • Nutrition:
  • 282 calories
  • 13.5g carbs
  • 3.9g fiber
  • 15.6g fat
  • 21.2g protein

Lunch

  • 150g grilled chicken; one apple; salad with 100g leafy greens, 100g cucumber, 100g mushrooms, and 100g carrots
  • Nutrition:
  • 400 calories
  • 39.5g carbs
  • 9.8g fiber
  • 5.7g fat
  • 54.4g protein

Dinner

  • 100g salmon; 100g green beans; 1 cup brown rice
  • Nutrition:
  • 455 calories
  • 52g carbs
  • 6.9g fiber
  • 14.9g fat
  • 26.8g protein

Snacks

  • One banana; 1 oz peanuts; 100g carrots with 30g hummus
  • Nutrition
  • 356 calories
  • 45.8g carbs
  • 10.1g fiber
  • 17.4g fat
  • 10.7g protein

Best late-night snacks for weight loss

It’s best to stick with this list of best foods for weight loss at all times of the day. If you’re looking for a late-night snack, you could have a piece of fruit, a small handful of nuts, or a whole grain like oats or brown rice. However, it can be hard to keep up with weight-loss motivation at all times. Sometimes, indulging in a small treat will prevent you from overeating on unhealthy, processed foods. Here are some healthy snacks for weight loss that will curb your late-night cravings:

  • Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk
  • Popcorn with little to no oil or butter
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain bread
  • Frozen grapes, berries, or banana slices

You can gain weight on any type of diet if you eat too many calories. Even if you choose a healthy late-night snack of weight-loss foods, you still should be careful to keep your portion sizes under control. When you’re tired, it’s easy to keep eating after you’re full.

Best international foods for weight Loss

Let’s move away from the shores of the United States and on to other countries across the world to find the best exotic foods for weight loss. We’ll cover India, China, Russia, and more.

Indian

Most Indian food can be included in the list of best foods for weight loss. The best Indian food is full of lean protein and includes lots of spices, so it can be varied and enjoyable. Some dishes contain high amounts of butter, cream, and simple carbs, though, so you should still be careful. Here are the top types of Indian food for weight loss:

  • Tandoori
  • Chana masala
  • Raita
  • Dal
  • Roti bread

Chinese

Some Chinese food is healthy and low-calorie, and some is the opposite. It’s possible to eat Chinese food for weight loss, though, as long as you select the right menu options. Here is some of the best Chinese foods for weight loss:

  • Broth-based soups: egg drop, wonton, and hot and sour
  • Steamed chicken and vegetables
  • Steamed brown rice
  • Beef with broccoli
  • Fish and shrimp dishes

Mexican

Mexican food can be high in fat and carbs, but you can also find great Mexican foods for weight loss. You may have to substitute some of your favorite ingredients with healthier options, but it’s possible to make delicious Mexican meals while sticking with your weight-loss plan. Here are some of your best options:

  • Guacamole (eaten on its own or with vegetables)
  • Black bean burritos or tacos
  • Chicken fajitas (no cheese or sour cream)
  • Tortilla soup
  • Nopalito salad

Russian

Many common Russian ingredients, like cabbage, buckwheat, and beef, are great natural weight-loss foods. Their meals are hearty and filling, but there is lots of good Russian food for weight loss. What’s most important is that you get a balance of produce, whole grains, and lean proteins without eating too much fatty food. Here is the best Russian foods for weight loss:

  • Buckwheat porridge
  • Sauerkraut
  • Borscht
  • Cabbage rolls
  • Dressed herring

Pakistani

Pakistani food for weight loss is similar to Indian food, but usually include more meat. They also include a wide variety of healthy vegetables and spices, which are helpful for weight loss. Here are some options for Pakistani food for weight loss:

  • Chicken tikka
  • Chapati
  • Aaloo palak
  • Moong dal
  • Nihari

Superfoods for weight loss

Superfoods are foods that are dense in nutrients and exceptionally good for your health. They’re some of the best foods to eat for weight loss because they help you meet your vitamin and nutrient goals while you cut back on calories. Here are some of the top superfoods for weight loss and their nutrition facts per 100 grams:

Spinach

  • 19 calories
  • 1g carbs
  • 1g fiber
  • 0g sugar
  • 3g protein
  • 1g fat
  • ORAC value: 1,687

Chia Seeds

  • 490 calories
  • 44g carbs
  • 38g fiber
  • 1g sugar
  • 14g protein
  • 31g fat
  • ORAC value: 9,800

Flax Seeds

  • 534 calories
  • 29g carbs
  • 27g fiber
  • 2g sugar
  • 18g protein
  • 42g fat
  • ORAC value: 1,130

Blueberries

  • 57 calories
  • 14g carbs
  • 2.4g fiber
  • 10g sugar
  • 0.7g protein
  • 0.3g fat
  • ORAC value: 4,633 (store bought) or 9,621 (wild)

Goji Berries (Dried)

  • 321 calories
  • 69g carbs
  • 5g fiber
  • 55g sugar
  • 14g protein
  • 1.8g fat
  • ORAC value: 3.173

Pine Nuts

  • 674 calories
  • 13g carbs
  • 4g fiber
  • 4g sugar
  • 14g protein
  • 68g fat
  • ORAC value: 443

Sweet Potato

  • 90 calories
  • 21g carbs
  • 3g fiber
  • 7g sugar
  • 2g protein
  • 0g fat
  • ORAC value: 2,085

Quinoa (Cooked)

  • 120 calories
  • 21g carbs
  • 3g fiber
  • 1g sugar
  • 4g protein
  • 2g fat
  • ORAC value: 3,200

Additional FAQs

How do I conquer a food craving?

You can conquer food cravings by drinking water. Thirst feels like hunger in many cases, so people tend to eat when they are thirsty.

Other techniques to prevent food cravings include planning out meals, eating enough protein and fiber-rich vegetables, reduce stress, and eat healthy snacks to avoid strong hunger.

Should I cut carbs to lose weight?

Cutting carbohydrates alone will not necessarily cause weight loss. When people talk about cutting carbs, they are often talking about a low-carb diet, which requires high fat intake. A high-fat, low-carb diet does promote weight loss, but the results do not tend to last long-term.

Is it true eating after 8 pm will cause weight gain?

The habit of eating after 8 pm does not cause weight gain for everyone. A small study with fewer than 60 participants showed people who ate after 8 PM ate more calories than those who didn’t. More calories can equal weight gain, but not in all cases.

Do I have to count calories?

Taking in the right amount of calories is important, but calorie counting hasn’t been shown to work for weight loss. Instead of counting calories, experts suggest being calorie-conscious. Know what you’re eating and choose healthy, fiber-rich, whole foods.

I’m working out, why am I not losing weight?

There are several reasons why you are working out but not losing weight. You could be:

  • Eating too many calories.
  • Not maintaining an elevated heart rate during cardio exercise.
  • Holding on to water weight as muscles heal.
  • Muscle growth.

Will eating fruit cause me to gain weight?

Nearly all foods, when eaten in excess, can cause weight gain. Some fruits are high in natural sugars and, if you were to eat enough, could cause weight gain.

The highest calorie fruit is the avocado – supplying more than 300 calories each. Coconut, dried fruits, and bananas are all on the list of high-calorie fruits.

Are how many calories or the type of calories more important?

The type of calories you’re consuming is important, but the total number of calories is also a contributing factor to weight loss and weight gain. Even if you eat the healthiest foods imaginable, if you eat them in excess, you will gain weight, and possibly cause significant health issues.

Are all fish healthy?

All consumer-sold fish are generally considered healthy for most people. Eating fish in moderation is important due to potential mercury levels. There’s also concern that farmed fish are treated with antibiotics and raised in polluted waters.

Fish remains unsafe for people with certain medical conditions or food allergies.

Is chocolate actually healthy?

Yes, chocolate is actually healthy. Cocoa, from which chocolate is made, has antioxidant effects shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Dark chocolate is the preferred type as milk chocolate, and chocolate with lower cocoa concentrations tend to have more sugar and a higher calorie content. Less cocoa also means fewer health benefits.

Is wheat bread better than white bread?

Wheat bread is not considered better than white bread, so to speak, but it does have more fiber as the bran of the wheat berry is included in the flour used to make wheat bread. The bran part of the berry is a rich source of fiber.