Achieving sustainable weight loss takes a more nuanced approach to your diet than “calories in, calories out.” The reality is that you need to eat the right foods (fresh produce, legumes, nuts and seeds and intact whole grains), avoid the weight gain-promoting substances (salt, oil, sweeteners), and address food addiction to achieve excellent health and optimal weight.
I designed my Nutritarian diet to include a wide portfolio of protective plant foods, which supply a full spectrum of phytonutrients. This eating style is hormonally favorable, offers the full portfolio of anticancer superfoods, and maximizes the number of micronutrients per calorie.
Let’s take a look at some of the healthful plant foods that make up the Nutritarian diet and how they promote weight loss.
Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables
High in nutrients, low in calories, these foods take up room in the stomach, leading to a feeling of satiety. They are also rich in fiber, phytochemicals and micronutrients, and very low in calories.
Put it into action: Eat three or more of these every day: Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, collards, and watercress: salad greens, such as lettuce, arugula, and spinach; alliums such as onions, garlic, and scallions; bell peppers, eggplant, asparagus, zucchini, etc.
Start your meal with a salad
When it comes to salad, the bigger, the better. Studies have found that eating a salad at the start of a meal reduces calorie intake from the meal by blunting your appetite and improving satiety value of meals. Women who started their lunch with a salad consumed fewer calories from the rest of the meal. The larger the salad, the fewer calories they consumed at lunch.1,2
Put it into action: To your lettuce, add some tomatoes, sliced red onion, shredded carrots, and some raw cruciferous like arugula, radishes, or cabbage. Your choice of dressing is important. Including fat in your salad makes the salad more filling and helps your body absorb carotenoids from the raw vegetables. But whole food fat sources – nuts, seeds, and avocado – are superior to oils. Keep reading to learn how nuts and seeds promote a healthy weight.
Beans are filling and low-glycemic
Looking for the best starchy food? Beans, lentils, and split peas are especially high in indigestible carbohydrates (fiber and resistant starch). They slow the absorption of sugars from a meal, and reduce the elevation in glucose and insulin following the meal. Plus, these indigestible starches provide sustenance for the beneficial bacteria of the gut microbiome.3
Beans promote satiety, helping to reduce total calorie intake, and studies suggest beans in one meal can even blunt the blood glucose response of the next meal.4,5 An analysis of 21 randomized controlled trials on bean or lentil containing diets vs. a diet with the same number of calories but no beans found the bean groups lost more weight than the control groups.6 Whole grains often get more attention, but beans are more healthful than whole grains. A dietary intervention study directly comparing the two in patients with type 2 diabetes found beans were superior to whole grains for improving body weight and cardiovascular risk factors.7
Put it into action: Variety is the spice of life, so broaden your mealtime horizons by experimenting with different varieties of beans. Choose from adzuki beans, black beans, cannellini, chickpeas, edamame (and dried soy beans) green peas, lentils, kidney beans, Navy beans, pinto beans, and white beans.
Starving our microbial self: the deleterious consequences of a diet deficient in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates.
The acute effects of a pulse-containing meal on glycaemic responses and measures of satiety and satiation within and at a later meal.
Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials.
Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial.
Mushrooms will grow on you
One way to cut calories effortlessly is to add mushrooms to your daily diet. In the lab, mushroom phytochemicals inhibit human enzymes that digest carbohydrate, which could reduce calorie absorption.8 Studies also suggest that mushrooms increase satiety; that when people replace meat with mushrooms in their meals, they do not compensate by eating more calories from other foods.9 Here’s an example: A one-year long clinical trial in 73 obese adults instructed half to replace all red meat with mushrooms, and the other half to follow a standard weight loss diet. The mushroom group had lower calorie intake, lost more weight, and lower BMI, waist circumference, percent, body fat, and blood pressure compared to the standard diet group.10
Put it into action: Mushrooms add a depth of savory flavor – known as umami – to dishes. Branch out from the usual white button variety and try chanterelle, cremini, maitake, oyster, porcini, portobello, reishi, or shiitake.
Inhibitory potential of Grifola frondosa bioactive fractions on alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase for management of hyperglycemia.
Lack of energy compensation over 4 days when white button mushrooms are substituted for beef.
Positive effect of mushrooms substituted for meat on body weight, body composition, and health parameters.
Berries and pomegranate
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