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Unexpected foods to help you lose weight

Peanut Butter

 (iStock)

It’s no secret that losing weight isn’t easy; in fact, it can be downright frustrating.  Contrary to popular belief, weight loss is not just about exercising vigorously or eating a diet of solely fruits and vegetables.  Whether it’s because they speed up your metabolism or because they keep you feeling full, there are some foods that can help you lose weight, despite not being considered “healthy.”

String cheese is the perfect quick snack for any time of day – its small packaging allows for easy storage in your purse or briefcase.  String cheese is naturally low in calories, does not contain carbohydrates and is a lean protein, so you will feel full without having consumed too many calories.  From a nutritional perspective, string cheese provides valuable amounts of calcium and vitamin A.  Please be cautious, however, as string cheese often contains higher levels of sodium, it may not be appropriate for those on low-sodium diets.  To help reduce the sodium content, soak it in water before eating.

Apples and pears are low in calories, yet packed with fiber, which can help you feel full and control your appetite.  Furthermore, the high pectin levels in apples can help slow digestion and create a feeling of fullness.  Pears contain 12 percent of your daily suggested intake of vitamin C, which research suggests can help maintain a low body fat percentage.  When choosing pears and apples, aim to eat organic – they’ve been shown to contain less pesticide residues.

All-natural peanut butter is loaded with protein and fiber.  Together, they help you feel full and maintain this feeling longer, so naturally, you’ll eat less.  Research has shown that people who added 500 calories of peanuts to their regular diet consumed less at meals and increased their resting metabolism by 11 percent.  Be cautious when choosing your peanut butter: Read the ingredients and nutrition facts to ensure that it does not contain too much added sugar.  

Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which recent research has shown may increase energy expenditure and may prevent the formation of new fat cells.  Before you begin sprinkling this spice on all your meals, know that this research has not been carried out in humans – more research is needed before confirming pepper’s effects on weight loss.  Still, other peppers, such as jalapenos or chili peppers, have been shown to have modest effects on metabolism because of the compound which gives them their infamous heat, capsaicin.

Air-popped popcorn, in stark contrast to its cousin movie theatre popcorn, contains few calories and is full of fiber, which will help you keep you feeling full.  The hull of popcorn contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may also have disease-fighting properties.  When preparing popcorn, don’t add tons of butter and salt.  Instead, choose sodium-free seasonings or herbs to keep it healthy.  Pesky popcorn hull, which often lodges itself between your gums and teeth, can also get caught in the stomach and intestines of those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery or who have diverticulitis, so this food may not be appropriate for this population.

As a general rule, moderation is key when it comes to weight loss: moderate exercise, moderate calorie-cutting, etc.  It’s best to not make very drastic changes in your lifestyle; you want to be able to maintain your exercise regimen and healthful eating habits for the long term.  

Dr. David B. Samadi is the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. Dr. Samadi joined Fox News Channel in 2009 as a medical contributor. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.