Losing Weight with Superfoods
What are superfoods? Can they help you lose weight? We will help you navigate these questions throughout the course of this article. You may have heard the term superfoods in regard to goji berries or avocados or flaxseed or any other trending health food. The term superfood simply refers to a food item that is rich in dietary nutrients or contains a particularly high quantity of specific nutrients such as antioxidants. For example, quinoa can be considered a superfood because it is a complete protein. The package of gummy worms hiding in your cupboard? Not a superfood.
Now that we’ve addressed the first question, let’s take a look at the second. The quick and easy answer is yes, superfoods can help you lose weight. However, no superfood is going to be the magic elixir that has you dropping pounds instantaneously. Rather, it is the careful addition of superfoods into your diet that you will start to feel better and lose weight.
Let’s talk about our first superfood, the mighty avocado. Avocados have found themselves added to millions of salads and sandwiches across the nation over the past few years, and for good reason. Researchers at Loma Linda University found that the addition of approximately half of a Hass avocado to a lunch meal increased satisfaction and reduced the desire to eat for the following 3 to 5 hours.1
One of the many obstacles to overcome in losing weight is feeling full while eating less. Many people who start diets or weight loss programs find themselves overwhelmed by hunger cravings. One way to combat this is through the addition of foods that will help you feel fuller longer, reducing the desire to snack between meals. Adding avocado to your lunch is a great way to knock out your afternoon snacking habits.
Another great way to knock out those after meal cravings is to eat foods that have a low glycemic index and are high in protein or fiber. These foods digest more slowly, providing your body with long-lasting energy and keeping you satisfied.2
Eggs are often overlooked as a superfood due to the high cholesterol content of the egg yolk, but eggs (sans yolks if you so desire) are a great source of protein. Adding an egg or two to your breakfast routine will keep you feeling fuller longer.3 For those vegans out there, lentils and other legumes are great sources of protein. You may have to get creative to make it a breakfast item, but it you can easily incorporate it into your lunches and dinners.
Let’s talk fiber. According to a study by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, fiber can help you lose weight. In this study, one group followed a strict American Heart Association diet while trying to add 30 grams of fiber to their daily diet. The other group did not follow the AHA diet and instead just tried to add 30 grams of fiber to their diet. Both groups were able to lose weight, with the AHA group losing slightly more (5.9 compared to 4.6 pounds), and both groups were able to sustain the weight loss of 12 months.4
How exactly does fiber help you lose weight? Fiber takes longer to digest than other foods, keeping your gut busy longer which provides a satiating effect and keeps you feeling fuller longer.5 Eating foods high in fiber will not only help you eat less at mealtime while still feeling full, you will also be able to outlast those morning or afternoon cravings.
We recommend these superfoods to get your daily fiber fill: quinoa and pomegranates! As mentioned previously, quinoa is a complete protein but it is also full of fiber. In fact, one cup of cooked quinoa contains 21% of your recommended daily fiber intake.6 At EatSmarter, we have a plethora of tried and tested recipes for cooking quinoa. Check out our Top Quinoa recipes here for some super dinner inspiration. Pomegranates not only are a great source of fiber, they also contain key antioxidants that keep your body running strong. A 150ml glass of pomegranate juice (with no added sugar!) counts as one of your five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.7 This pure pomegranate juice concentrate (no added sugar, we checked!) will pack a punch in a smaller amount. In addition to pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds can be a great addition to any salad, side, or main dish. Check out this awesome mixed green salad filled with all sorts of goodies, including pomegranate seeds of course.
The most important thing to remember when incorporating superfoods into your diet is that quantity is key! Eating five pomegranates in one sitting is not going to make you five pounds lighter the next day. Keep your portions small and balanced and substitute superfoods wherever you can. Swap out that side of pasta for a side of quinoa. Looking for a crunch in your salad? Instead of reaching for some croutons, add some pomegranate seeds. Make superfoods work for you! And finally, this article has been by no means exhaustive. There are a lot of other great superfoods out there that can help with your weight loss goals. Just make sure that you see what the research says and be wary of any “too good to be true” claims.
- Michelle Wien, Ella Haddad, Keiji Oda, and Joan Sabaté, "A Randomized 3x3 Crossover Study to Evaluate the Effect of Hass Avocado Intake on Post-ingestive Satiety, Glucose and Insulin Levels, and Subsequent Energy Intake in Overweight Adults," Nutrition Journal, BioMed Central Ltd., 27 Nov. 2013, Web.
"What Makes Us Feel Full? The Satiating Power of Foods," Eufic.org, European Food Information Council, n.d., Web.; St. Michael's Hospital, "Eating beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils may help lose weight and keep it off: United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organization have designated 2016 as the International Year of Pulses," ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 30 March 2016.; Emily H. Phares, "Protein, Carbs, and Weight Loss," The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 26 May 2015, Web.
Juliette Kellow, "Eat Eggs for Weight Loss," Weightlossresources.co.uk, N.p., n.d., Web.
Nancy Ferrari, "Making One Change - Getting More Fiber - Can Help with Weight Loss," Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publications, 09 Apr. 2015, Web.
Linda J. Vorvick, "Fiber," University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland Medical Center, 17 Aug. 2014, Web.
Mandy Oaklander, "What's Healthier: Quinoa or Brown Rice," Prevention, Rodale, Inc., 26 Apr. 2016, Web.
"Is Pomegranate a Superfood?" NHS Choices, UK Department of Health, 26 Aug. 2015, Web.