If you feel like you're making smart moves to lose weight but the scale isn't moving the way you want, your diet may contain some sneaky foods that can lead to bloating, water retention (ahem, salt!), and a higher calorie intake. Veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, whole grains, and other smart choices loaded with fiber and protein will keep you fuller longer, all while working their nutrient-powered magic. When it comes to healthy eating and weight loss, these plant-based foods loved by registered dietitians have your back.
Peanut butter packs 8 grams of protein and up to 4 grams of fiber per serving, making it an ideal snack to help you fill up and stay satisfied. Peanuts contain L-arginine, an amino acid that works to improve blood flow throughout your body by helping blood vessels "relax" — all of which can help to mitigate fluid retention.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids plus minerals in salmon make it an ideal dinner choice. The vitamin D found in each fillet is linked with lowering your risk of chronic disease, and you'll also get 25% of your daily vitamin B6, which can help with mood and stress regulation.
Baked potatoes (yes — white potatoes!) are an excellent source of potassium, which can help beat bloat and counterbalance sodium. Since they've got filling fiber, spuds also help you stay fuller, longer. Avoid the deep fryer, though. Potatoes are a nutrient-dense food as long as they're not served the french-fry way.
Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut contain probiotics, a.k.a. friendly bacteria that help boost immunity, regulate gut function, and banish bloat. Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and skyr can provide probiotic benefits too. Choose ones that have five strains or more of bacterial cultures per 6-ounce serving.
Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios — at GH, we're nuts about nuts! People who snack on nuts may have lower abdominal fat than those who munch on carb-based treats, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, a heart-healthy (and more satisfying) pick than their grain-based counterparts.
Beans and lentils are everywhere these days, and we couldn't be happier about it. They're filled with fiber and plant-based protein, plus minerals and B-vitamins. Overall, beans reduce bloat by aiding your nervous and muscular systems, helping you build lean body mass.
Grains get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, but that's because refined grains (read: processed foods!) are linked to wider waists. 100% whole grains are bloat-busting superstars, however, as they're packed with minerals and de-puff by counter-balancing salt. Stick to brown rice, quinoa, wheat, barley, millet, farro, sorghum, and amaranth for the biggest benefits.
Add a cup of low-fat milk, a part-skim mozzarella stick, or a half cup of low-sodium cottage cheese to breakfast, and you may have a belly-busting win. While lots of research links calcium with lower body weights, results from a 2014 study suggest that calcium-containing foods may reduce waist circumference in those genetically predisposed to carrying weight in their midsection.
Another win for your morning cup of joe: Caffeinated coffee keeps things moving through the digestive tract. Since staying regular is key to a tighter-looking tummy, drinking about 8 to 16 ounces of java at the same time every day can help you stay on schedule. Remember: Sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, so skip fancy flavorings and synthetic sweeteners containing sugar alcohols, which can cause bloating.
Tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, and other salad staples all help you stay hydrated due to their high H2O content. That extra water can offset fluid retention caused by excess salt.
As a prebiotic-filled veggie, asparagus is a great addition to soups, pastas, and omelets, or served as a side dish. For extra bloat-beating benefits, try pairing asparagus sticks with other crudité and dipping in hummus.
The potassium in citrus helps combat bloat while the antioxidants fight inflammation, which is associated with belly-fat storage. Since a key part of beating the bulge is proper hydration, adding citrus to your H2O can help non-water drinkers to sip up and ultimately slim down!
Flavor foods with herbs and spices whenever you can. It'll encourage you cut back on high-sodium staples and avoid the salt shaker, a major player in bloating. Plus, many have mild diuretic effects, helping you flush out excess water. We love basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, tarragon, mint, oregano, and black and red chili peppers, to name a few.
Put these superfoods into action with GH's new cookbook, . It's your go-to guide for making smart swaps that can help you reduce that puffy feeling and improve your overall health — no deprivation required.
Once you have your meal plan set, look to Prevention's new book, , to get moving. It comes with a free MP3 player preloaded with music and workouts. Talk about motivation!