- Refined and processed carbs like those found in white bread should be avoided when trying to lose weight.
- Instead, stick to carbs that are full of fiber and give your body energy.
- Squash, beans, and sweet potatoeswill satisfy your carb cravingwithout adding extra pounds.
The following is an adapted excerpt from "The Pizza Diet: How I Lost 100 Pounds Eating My Favorite Food - and You Can, Too!" by Chef Pasquale Cozzolino:
Besides serving up a third of the day's fiber, a 1-cup serving of this highly nutritious, naturally sweet veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
This fruit provides one of the best and easiest-to-get sources of fiber. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over 5 years. And a study at the University of Western Australia found that the Pink Lady variety had the highest level of antioxidant avonoids—a fat-burning compound—of any apple.
This fruit that comes in its own wrapper boosts bloating bacteria in your stomach and is a prime source of potassium, which can help diminish water retention. Each medium banana contains about 36 grams of good carbs: Their low glycemic index means carbs are slowly released into your body, preventing sugar crashes and spurring muscle recovery.
Barley is a terrific appetite suppressant because it contains 6 grams of belly-filling, mostly soluble ber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugars and increased satiety. It also has tons of health benefits like decreased in inflammation and stabilized blood sugar levels.
Beans are a great source of protein that includes ber, which means they keep your blood sugar from spiking and provide the building blocks of muscle growth. One cup of black beans has 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber; they're also rich in folate, a B vitamin that stokes muscle growth, and copper, which strengthens tendons. On top of that, a Spanish study showed that consuming four weekly servings of beans or legumes accelerates weight loss.
Lentils, chickpeas, peas, and beans—they're all magic bullets for belly-fat loss. In one 4-week Spanish study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that includes four weekly servings of legumes aids weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet that doesn't include them. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure.
Quinoa is higher in protein than any other grain, and it packs a hefty dose of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats and B vitamins. Try quinoa in the morning. It has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs.
Sweet potatoes can be called the king of slow carbs because they're digested slowly and keep you feeling fuller and energized longer, plus they are loaded with fiber, nutrients and can help you burn fat. The magic ingredients here are carotenoids, antioxidants that stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, which prevents calories from being converted into fat. And their high vitamin profile (including A, C and B6) gives you more energy to burn at the gym.
In most of the country you'll find them dried, frozen or canned. But they're worth seeking out because they are a true superpower fruit. Animal studies at the University of Michigan have found that tart cherries have the power to reduce belly fat and alter the expression of fat genes.
You know brown is better, but do you know why? It's because whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient rich and full of fiber. Just be careful—most breads in the bread aisle are filled with high-fructose corn syrup or a blend of whole and enriched wheats. It's worth splurging on the pricier stuff, often found in the freezer section.
As with whole-wheat bread, you're getting all three parts of the grain, with fiber to increase satiety and prevent overeating. For variety, try pasta made from lentils, chickpeas, black beans or quinoa; all are full of fiber.
Packed with protein and probiotics, a cup of yogurt will satisfy hunger and improve your gut health, a key factor in weight loss. It is also rich in vitamin D and calcium, and it's one of the few foods containing conjugated linoleic acid, a special fat that studies show may reduce body fat. But you need to get the right kind to take advantage of this benefits. Most yogurts are full of sugar and fruity sweeteners. Shop for plain Greek yogurt.