Losing weight can be a challenge, especially when many different diet plans are available. Some diets may help you lose weight but may not be healthy because they eliminate natural and healthy foods such as fruits or whole grains. A balanced diet with a reduction in calories and portions is the healthy way to lose weight.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should be part of a healthy weight loss plan because they contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, carrots, or greens provide minimal calories. Loading up on four to five servings of vegetables a day can help to fill you up when cutting back on calories. Focus less on the starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes. Though fruits tend to have more calories than vegetables, they still are considered a low-calorie food. The fiber that is found in both fruits and vegetables adds bulk to the diet and helps you feel full with less food.
Load up at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. You should consume between 2.5 and 3 cups of veggies, and 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit each day, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Guidelines.
Whole grains are another great source of fiber in the diet and help to fill you up more than refined grains. When choosing grain products, you should look for the word “whole” and then the flour type as a first ingredient. Whole grains such as wheat breads, wheat pasta and brown or wild rice, can provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the diet. Though not necessarily low-calorie, they help to fill you up more than refined grains such as white breads or pastas. Each 6 to 7 ounces of grains daily, and make most of your grain servings whole grains.
The University of Tennessee notes that low-fat dairy products can help with weight management. Low-fat dairy products include low-fat or skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese. One cup of skim milk provides only 90 calories and many low-fat or fat-free yogurts have less than 100 calories per serving, making them great snacks or additions to meals. The USDA recommends 3 cups of dairy each day.
Meats and Proteins
Meat and other protein sources can contribute a significant amount of calories to the diet if not chosen wisely. When choosing beef you should look for lean cuts such as loin cuts and 93 percent lean ground beef or leaner. Poultry should be skinless due to the large amount of fat and calories in the skin. Beef or chicken servings should be about 3 oz. at a time. Fish is a great source of protein and should be incorporated twice per week in a 4 oz. serving. Eggs can also be a lower calorie protein source and provide the same amount of protein as one ounce of meat. Dried beans are low-fat, high in protein, and high in fiber, helping you to fill up with smaller amounts. Protein foods should make up 5 to 6 ounces of your daily food intake.