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The Natural Diet: Best Foods for Weight Loss

You can eat more and still lose weight.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It seems natural: You want to lose weight fast, so you do a diet slash-and-burn, eating less and thinking about food more. The usual result also seems pretty natural: You feel denied, so you give up. Repeat as diet fads come and go.

Enough already! Why not eat more for weight loss and weight maintenance, instead of less?

How to Eat More … and Still Lose Weight

The trick to eating for weight loss isn’t really so tricky: It’s as simple as eating more colorful, good-for-you fruits and vegetables.

Now we all know we’re supposed to eat fruits and veggies for their vitamins and minerals, their roughage, and powerful disease-fighting benefits. But apparently good nutrition just isn’t alluring enough for most of us. Only 20% of Americans eat as many as five pieces of fruits and veggies a day.

So maybe it’s time we turn the tables and instead look at fruits and veggies as a delicious way to “cheat” on a healthy weight loss diet. From fire-engine red bell peppers, and buttery-yellow zucchini, to juicy grapes as purple as wine, “eating enough produce seems to be one of the key elements in weight loss and weight maintenance,” says Dave Grotto, RD, LDN, dietitian and author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.

So how does eating more food actually help you weigh less?

The Secrets of Fruits and Vegetables

The first secret of fruits and veggies is simple: they’re nutrient dense. This means that for their weight, most produce is low in calories; so you can eat a lot more when your diet is rich in veggies and fruits -- and still not consume a whole lot of calories. Just try that with chocolate!

The second secret: Satiety. All produce, from a juicy pear to a crispy bunch of red lettuce is packed with water and fiber, says Seattle dietitian Kerry Neville, MS, RD, and both of these not only keep the calories down, they make you feel fuller longer. This means you could be satisfying cravings for something sweet or crunchy every day -- and still lose weight.

Think about it. Maybe you’re in a 3 p.m. slump and want a snack to get you through to dinner. Which will fill your belly better, a palmful of potato chips with 155 calories, or three cups of whole strawberries with 138 calories? A can of sweetened cola at 136 calories, or a heaping cup of grapes with about the same number? In each case, the produce lets you eat a lot more, fills you up fast, and keeps you full longer.

The Real Fruits and Vegetables Bonus

Along with helping in a weight loss diet, don’t forget the ultimate boon when you enjoy crisp veggies and succulent fruit: You’re getting disease-fighting nutrition with all that taste, too.

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