- You don’t have to focus on restricting or eliminating food groups to lose weight, dieticians say.
- Instead, try adding nutritious foods like protein sources, fiber-rich vegetables, and other whole foods.
- Focusing on what you can eat instead of depriving yourself can help make a diet sustainable.
According to dietitians, losing weight doesn’t have to feel restrictive — adding healthy options to your diet may be a more effective way to get results than cutting out certain foods.
To reduce body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit, eating fewer calories than you burn through exercise and activity. But you don’t have to cut out treats, eliminate carbs, or fast for long hours.
Instead, focus on getting enough protein, fiber, and whole foods, so you can enjoy meals while reducing overall calorie intake to lose weight and maintain it over the long term. dietitians said.
Eating more protein can keep you full and support your metabolism
One way to make your diet more satisfying and promote weight loss is to include a variety protein sources to help you feel full, sports dietitian Angie Asche previously told Insider.
“Satiety is a big factor,” Asche said. “If your goal is muscle strength and you want to reduce fat, increasing your intake may be helpful.”
Protein is an essential macronutrient for maintaining tissues such as muscle. Evidence suggests that consuming enough can help you lose weight by preserving muscle mass, keeping your metabolism strong while you burn fat.
The right amount of protein for most people is between 0.5 and 1 grams of protein per pound of body weight, sports dietitian Nancy Clark previously told Insider.
However, it’s possible to eat too much protein, which can cause you to overdo it on calories and won’t result in additional benefits in terms of weight loss or muscle building, according to Asche.
“Any excess, if you don’t want to gain weight, may not be helpful,” she said.
Fiber-rich foods help control appetite and maintain good digestion
Another strategy for eating more food and fewer calories is to fill up on fiber, a type of carbohydrate found in foods like legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Fiber slows digestion, which can keep you full after a meal to promote healthy weight loss. It also feeds beneficial bacteria in the digestive system known as the gut microbiome, which are linked to benefits such as healthy weight and reduced risk of disease.
According to dietitian Bianca Tamburello, meals and snacks high in fiber include oatmeal, black bean wraps, nuts and bowls of rice. The FDA recommends adults consume 28 grams of fiber per day.
Fill your plate with whole foods like vegetables to cut calories without feeling deprived
A common diet mistake is restricting foods to lose weight, which can make you cranky, hungry and less likely to stick to your plan, registered dietitian Jaclyn London previously told Insider.
Instead, prioritize adding healthy foods to make sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs, she said.
“Think ‘more’ – more produce, more fruit,” London said. “The more you think about including, the more satisfying your meals can be.”
A good place to start is to prepare the majority of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, a family physician who specializes in a food-as-medicine approach to health.
He said eating more whole foods can help you cut out processed foods, which are less nutritious and linked to a wide range of health issues like heart disease and cancer. Evidence also shows that processed foods are “hyperappetizing”, causing you to eat more than you intended.
Structuring your meals around nutrient-dense whole foods for about 90% of your diet leaves the remaining space in your calorie budget to indulge yourself, registered dietitian Georgie Fear previously told Insider.
“Think about the foods you like the most and find a frequency that works for you. It’s still healthy eating,” she said.