Cutting is critical when you’re trying to lose weight. You cut calories. You cut fat. Basically, anything that’s crammed with carbs, sweetened with sugar or dipped in a deep fryer is suddenly off-limits.
But dieting doesn’t have to require deprivation. Many delicious (and healthy) foods can still be part of your dining repertoire. Some members of the produce family are so light in calories and fat that you can eat them with (relative) abandon.
The one category of foods that you can eat loads of without suffering the consequences of weight gain are nonstarchy vegetables, says Alexis Supan, an outpatient dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine. “Mostly any vegetable besides potato, corn and peas, you can eat endlessly,” she says.
A cup of chopped broccoli or a grilled portobello mushroom contains just 30 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. You can chow down on two entire cups of lettuce and consume less than 16 calories. Because of its high water content, a whole tomato has a mere 22 calories. Cauliflower, kale, carrots and sprouts are similarly nutrient-dense and light in calories.
These produce mainstays bring a few other things to the table. “What makes them so incredible and so beneficial for weight maintenance and weight loss is they are high in macronutrients [such as carbohydrates] and micronutrients [vitamins and minerals]. And they’re rich in fiber,” says Beata Rydyger, a registered nutritionist based in Los Angeles. Fiber keeps your blood sugar levels stable, which helps you avoid sudden attacks of the munchies that might otherwise make you crave junk foods.
If vegetables aren’t your favorite foods, you might be thinking how unappealing this way of eating sounds. But there are ways to spice up your veggies to make them more palatable.
Roast them in olive oil spray, then add a blend of garlic and other herbs and spices, Supan suggests. If you love dip, which tends to be high in fat, use salsa instead to add even more vegetables into the mix. Or blend a ranch flavor packet into plain Greek yogurt. “Now you have a really high-protein, very healthy dip that you can use along with your vegetables,” she says.
To learn about other foods you can eat without gaining weight, from AARP, CLICK HERE.