Packaged food comes clean
Big Foot Productions/ShutterstockThe diet food of the past may have been cardboard-tasting, fake-sugar-laden garbage, but today there are products that can help you slash calories, stave off hunger pangs, and keep portions reasonable without sacrificing taste. (A lot of them will help fill in nutritional gaps in your diet, too). "Even though whole foods are the foundation of a healthy diet, it's simply not practical to eat a diet that consists entirely of whole foods," says Karen Ansel, RD, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer. "The good news is that packaged foods have made a lot of progress when it comes to cleaning up their ingredient lists." We asked pros, including Ansel, for their top picks to help you lose 10 pounds and came up with one killer grocery list.
Beans are lean and pack a protein punch
Alena Brozova/ShutterstockNutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read it Before You Eat It—Taking You from Label to Table, calls these superfoods "one of the most underrated in the store." They're cheap, shelf stable, versatile, and an amazing source of two key components of any weight loss regimen: lean, plant-based protein and filling fiber. Dried beans take a little more prep work, so she likes canned beans as a pantry staple. They're pre-cooked, which means they're ready to eat with a twist of a can opener, and you can even use the protein- and carb-rich liquid they're stored in, known as aquafaba, as a vegan-friendly egg substitute. Don't miss these other non-diet foods to help you lose weight.
Whole wheat bread could boost metabolism
MSPhotographic/Shutterstock"Bread is a processed food—we don't just pick it off the tree in slices," says nutritionist Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition. But it could be critical for weight loss. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate enough whole grains to meet their daily fiber requirements lost about 100 more calories per day than those who dined on refined grains. The reason: their resting metabolic rate, the normal rate at which their bodies burn calories, was elevated. White breads have more of their nutrients, including fiber, stripped away in processing, but hearty whole grain loaves such as those from Dave's Killer Bread, Ezekiel 4:9, or Alvarado Street Bakery should be part of your weekly grocery list, says Zeitlin. She also loves sprouted grain breads, which she says "can be easier to digest for anyone with sensitivities or intolerances, while still packing that high-fiber, vitamin B-rich, mineral-dense nutrition punch."
Sparkling water fills you up
Benjamin Lozovsky/ShutterstockGood hydration is always important, but especially when you're trying to lose 10 pounds since research shows that drinking water before meals can help reduce the number of calories you'll consume. And it turns out, per other research, that the bubbles in carbonated water do an even better job of filling you up. Plenty of brands have naturally flavored bubbly versions with zero calories: Hint, Dry, Spindrift, and La Croix. Swap them for soda or use them to make a mocktail, and you'll save yourself around 150 calories per drink says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Superfood Swap.
Content continues below ad
Salmon in a pouch could aid fat loss
Keith Homan/ShutterstockAnsel is a fan of salmon (tuna is another good choice) in pouches, which she says make it "super easy to get your fish fix." "Hardly anybody eats the recommended two weekly servings of fish," Ansel says. Besides being a lean protein, which takes more work to digest than simple carbs and helps build calorie-torching muscle, fatty fish such as salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient some preliminary evidence indicates could aid fat loss.
Cocoa nibs deliver iron and fiber
Svetoslav Radkov/ShutterstockBlatner calls these crushed bits of cacao bean "Nature's chocolate chip." Because they're minimally processed, they retain all their rich chocolate flavor, as well as antioxidants and nutrients including iron and fiber (they do come from a bean, after all), without added sugar. Try adding a few to oatmeal for a healthy chocolate fix. Here's what you need to know about the health benefits of chocolate.
Probiotic foods fight bloat
Stephanie Frey/ShutterstockThere's plenty of emerging research that the gut-healthy bacteria in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi may help fight bloat and aid digestion, says Zeitlin. She likes fermented vegetables from Farmhouse Cultures, Good Culture Cottage Cheese, and SunBiotics nuts and pumpkin seed snacks. Check out this list for more foods that boost your good gut bacteria.
Unsweetened almond milk has fewer calories
kubais/ShutterstockNut milks aren't just for people with lactose intolerance. Glass for glass, almond milk has fewer calories than cow's milk, zero saturated fat, and bonus vitamin E. Taub-Dix likes to use it in sauces and smoothies to keep calories in check. Just beware of sweetened or flavored versions, which can have added sugar. You want to aim for 6 grams of sugar or less per cup of almond milk.
Content continues below ad
Cauliflower rice won't spike blood sugar
AS Food studio/ShutterstockSwapping this crucifer for white-flour products like rice and pizza crust blunts the glycemic impact of those popular carbs—meaning it won't trigger a spike in blood sugar, which can lead to weight gain—and adds fiber to fill you up, Zeitlin says. That fiber can be the secret ingredient you need to lose 10 pounds. You can buy it pre-riced in the frozen foods section, or find "flour," pizza crusts, or pre-made pizzas under the Caulipower label to save you kitchen time and calories.
Dry-roasted chickpeas offer a healthy crunch
Rugged Studio/ShutterstockWaist-friendly snacking can be tough to come by, but companies like The Good Bean toss these crunchy legumes with seasonings for awesome mixtures (they have other varieties of beans too) that are full of fiber and plant-based protein, according to nutritionist Maya Feller, RD, of Maya Feller Nutrition and a regular contributor on Good Morning America. You can eat them out of the bag or toss them on salads or into soup or stir fries. Chickpea snacks are just one of those new healthy foods that are totally worth the hype.
Tea can satisfy a sweet tooth
Natasha Breen/ShutterstockBrewed tea has plenty of health perks depending on the variety (green tea, which is rich in antioxidants called catechins, is famous for its metabolism-boosting properties) but Blatner likes dessert teas in flavors like chocolate mint and red velvet to satisfy a sweet tooth. "One of the biggest things I hear from clients is that they need something sweet after a meal," she says. "This is a way to get your chocolate fix for zero calories." Check out more of the healthiest foods you can find at the supermarket.
Pulse pasta is more nutritious and filling
Giuseppe Amagliani/ShutterstockSwapping white flour pasta for noodles made from lentils, chickpeas, or edamame packs protein and fiber into a dish that's traditionally lacking both, says Zeitlin. And because pasta alternatives are so filling as a result, it's way easier to stick to the recommended portions and avoid overeating. She likes the brands Banza and Explore Cuisine. Here are more healthy pasta alternatives to try this week.
Content continues below ad
Dehydrated fruit has no added sugar
Geshas/ShutterstockFreeze-dried fruit is great for all the same reasons as the dried variety—it lasts longer and is more durable than fresh—but unlike dried fruit, it generally has no added sugar, says Blatner. Freeze-dried fruit makes a great snack or addition to trail mix or cereal. Blatner even has a client who spikes her bottled water with a few pieces.
Popcorn has filling fiber
Byjeng/ShutterstockThis supersnack is a whole grain, which makes it a naturally a good source of fiber that can help fill you up and keep you full, says Zeitlin. Research has found that it's more satisfying a snack than potato chips. And because it's a high-volume food, you get a lot per serving—three cups, in fact. Stick to air-popped varieties to avoid extra sugar and fat. Zeitlin likes Quinn Brand for their microwave-safe bags and natural flavors like white cheddar and Vermont maple kettle corn. Be sure to check out these other weight-loss foods to help you lose weight fast.
Yogurt helps prevent weight gain
pinkomelet/ShutterstockThis dairy product ranked No. 1 in the foods inversely associated with weight gain in a Harvard study. In other words, regularly downing the creamy stuff may help you lose 10 pounds, likely due to nutrients such as protein and calcium, and also possibly gut-loving probiotics. Ansel likes her yogurt low-fat without a lot of added sugar, from brands like Siggis and Skyr. Here are more of the best fat-burning foods you can eat.
Whole seeded crackers keep you full
13Smile/ShutterstockCrackers are complex carbs, which means they take longer for your body to digest, so you stay fuller longer, and they can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids, according to Feller. "I love to use seeded crackers as a base for hummus or cheese," she says.
Content continues below ad
Cow's milk packs in the protein
Keith Homan/ShutterstockPlant-based milks are all the rage, but don't count cows out completely. "Nothing beats it for calcium, and it's a super quick source of high-quality protein," says Ansel. Plus, new varieties on the market like Fairlife are actually higher in protein and calcium than standard milk and completely lactose-free for those with digestive issues.
Snack bars can be a smart on-the-go snack
AP/REX/Shutterstock"These can be a lifesaver and have also really come a long way in the cleaner foods department," says Zeitlin. Just make sure to stick to bars that use whole foods—like nuts and dates—in their ingredients list, have five grams of sugar or less, and contain at least three grams each of protein and fiber per bar. Brands she likes: RXbars, Kind Bars, Larabar, and Mediterra. Don't miss these 42 fast, easy tips to help you lose weight.
Hardboiled eggs are a compact protein boost
Africa Studio/ShutterstockWhen you need breakfast or a snack on the go, or a pre-dinner bite that will just take the edge off your hunger without spoiling your appetite, eggs are the answer. They're full of lean, muscle-building protein, plus their yolks have antioxidants galore. If you are as strapped for time as most Americans, don't feel bad about buying them pre-boiled—Blatner does it and she's a nutritionist. You can eat it straight up or slice it and add it to salad for a protein boost. Here are some other healthy eating tips you should know.
Pre-bagged greens or coleslaw
ATesevich/ShutterstockWashing a head of lettuce has deterred many a well-intentioned dieter from getting her daily allotment of leafy greens. Keep a bag of spinach or shredded cabbage in your crisper, and you can grab a handful at your leisure to toss into smoothies, salads, grain bowls, or as a base for lean protein like chicken or fish. Coleslaw mix is Blatner's favorite. "It makes a great Asian noodle bowl and has tons of fiber," she says.
Content continues below ad
Low-cal ice cream hits the spot
Leena Robinson/ShutterstockIn case that treat-flavored tea isn't cutting it after dinner, head to your grocer's freezer section. "Low-calorie ice creams are a huge trend right now, and they can definitely help satisfy a sweet tooth without going overboard," says Zeitlin. Her favorite RD-approved version is Halo Top, because their first three ingredients are whole foods (milk, cream, eggs). It is both low in calories and a good source of protein, which helps you satisfy a craving without overindulging. "Plus, they have so many delicious flavors to choose from," she adds, "although my favorite is still the chocolate mocha chip."
Now that you know what to put in your cart, these are the unhealthiest supermarket foods to avoid at all costs.