NUTRITION and FITNESS

Eat to lose: The 7 best foods to help you shed pounds

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Diets are all about cutting calories, right?

Well, maybe not.

If you’ve ever tried following a commercial diet, you know counting calories and weighing yourself can derail your goals completely. And while it may seem like restricting your intake of food is the best way to shed pounds, consuming enough calories is actually key.

To get the scoop on the foods that can help you get to that target weight, Fox News talked to Lauren Blake, RD, LDN, manager of sports nutrition at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, to find out how to eat your way to the body of your dreams.

Avocado

Despite previous attitudes toward fat, the healthy kind shouldn’t be your foe, a 2016 study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology suggests. Avocado contains healthy fats that can help you stay full and satisfied, Blake said. “I like to call avocado nature’s butter,” Blake, who recommended smearing it on a piece of whole-wheat toast, told Fox News. “If I don’t have avocado in my house, it’s time to go to the store!”

Berries

A 2015 study published in the journal BMJ found that people whose diets were rich in flavonoids — which are present in foods like berries, onions and even wine — tended to gain less weight as they aged. Blake is also a fan of them for their high fiber and water content. “They’re a bit lower on the glycemic index, so they’re not gonna spike your blood sugar as quickly,” she said.

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Lentils and beans

Fibrous foods like lentils and beans help you stay fuller longer, Blake explained. “Fiber comes from all plant foods, and typically, plants have more calories so you can eat more of them,” she said. “I’d rather be told I can eat more of something than less of something!” Research backs up that notion: A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested simply focusing on fiber may offer more benefits than following a more restrictive diet plan.

Lean protein

Fatty fish like salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and lean, non-dark meat like chicken or turkey can also help ward off unwanted pounds, Blake said. Its protein, whether from plants or animals, can help keep you full, she explained. Part of the Mediterranean diet, lean proteins have long been hailed as powerful weight-loss tools, several studies suggest.

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Non-starchy veggies

For weight loss, Blake advises her clients to fill half of their plates with non-starchy vegetables like bell peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Starchy veggies, on the other hand, include potatoes, peas and corn. In a 2015 study published in PLOS One, Harvard University researchers found that, after 24 years, men and women who consumed non-starchy produce, which is higher in fiber and lower in carbs, tended to lose weight. Like berries, non-starchy foods are lower on the glycemic index, meaning they lead to fewer blood sugar spikes and less hunger.

Whole grains

Although wheat and bread alone have become topics for debate in holistic wellness circles, Blake said whole grains — which are also rich in fiber — are an important part of a healthy diet. That doesn’t mean you should binge on bread, though! “I love things like brown rice and oatmeal,” Blake said, “[because] those are really great whole grains that typically have a little more fiber than bread.” If you’re going to opt for bread, Blake recommended looking for the 100 percent whole-wheat variety.

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Dark chocolate

Also rich in flavonoids and healthy fats, dark chocolate has become somewhat of a superfood for weight loss in recent years. Research has linked its consumption to everything from curbed sweet cravings to reduced blood sugar spikes. Blake suggested enjoying a piece of the treat in bar form or mixing dark cocoa powder into a protein-packed smoothie with almond or peanut butter. Go ahead, indulge!