10 Non-Diet Foods that Help You Lose Weight (and 5 that Make You Gain It)

You won't find cottage cheese or rice cakes anywhere on this list—just real foods that keep you fuller longer.

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Yogurt

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Kick off your weight-loss efforts beginning with breakfast. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that eating a serving of yogurt daily was associated with weight loss over the four-year study span. It may be that the good bacteria in yogurt gets your gut in shape, which may protect against weight gain. For best results, stick to plain, unsweetened yogurts and add your own healthful yogurt toppings—chopped-up fruit and nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla. Here are more foods that boost your good gut bacteria.

Berries

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When you want something pleasantly sweet, grab a handful of strawberries and blueberries. These fruits are rife with antioxidants called anthocyanins, which can keep the numbers on the scale from rising. Research in a 2016 issue of the British Medical Journal suggests the people who ate the most of these flavonoid-packed foods gained the least amount of weight over a 24-year period. You'll get all you need in a half-cup serving of blues a day. These fruits are nutritional powerhouses for your body.

Cauliflower

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You probably know the prescription to eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies every day—and that includes white cauliflower. In a 2015 PLOS Medicine study, eating more of this non-starchy veggie was linked to weighing 1.37 pounds less after four years. If caulilflower leaves you uninspired, try one of these trendy new ways to cook it up: Look for bags of "cauliflower rice" at the grocery store (it's simply ground-up cauliflower), and use it as a carb substitute. Or steam, freeze, and blend the mild vegetable into your morning smoothie. (Seriously!) Here are some neat tricks to making a healthy smoothie.

Tofu

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Soy is high on the list of foods that can help you shed pounds, so consider a veggie-heavy stir fry for dinner tonight. In the PLOS Medicine study mentioned above, eating more tofu or soy foods helped study participants weigh 2.5 pounds less at the study's end. One reason: It's packed with protein (9 grams) and contains just 80 calories per serving. Tofu is a favorite for vegetarians and vegans, along with these other animal-free comfort foods.

Grapefruit

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You may have heard of the Grapefruit Diet, a super low-cal diet that requires eating grapefruit at each meal. It's actually not recommended, because your body needs more calories than that to thrive. However, there may be something to regularly noshing on citrus fruits. In a 2006 study, people who ate half of a fresh grapefruit before each meal lost about 3.5 pounds after 12 weeks. The placebo group, on the other hand, lost only about a half pound. Researchers aren't sure why, but it may be that grapefruit helps reduce insulin levels after eating. Read more about the surprising health benefits of grapefruit (plus two dangers to watch out for).

Walnuts

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You probably know that nuts like almonds, pecans, and cashews, are nutritional superstars, but you may still be wary of them because of all the fat and calories they pack in. Worry no more. In a 2014 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that eating a handful of nuts every day can help prevent both obesity and type 2 diabetes. The winning combo of fat, protein, and fiber may boost satiety and satisfaction, helping you stick with a healthy eating plan.

Water

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Okay, we admit: It's not the most exciting choice, and you've probably heard it already. But until now, there hasn't been really good evidence that H20 can help get you to a healthy weight. New research in the Annals of Family Medicine sheds some light. Per the study, adults who are dehydrated have a 59 percent greater odds of being obese compared to those who drink enough every day. Notice, though, that doesn't necessarily mean you need to chug a gallon of water—just don't get dehydrated. You can do just that by sipping when you're thirsty and eating a diet filled with H20-filled fruits and veggies. These are the signs that you need to be drinking more water.

Chickpeas

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Time to load up on the legumes! A 2016 analysis of 21 previous research trials discovered that people who ate one serving of beans, lentils, chickpeas, or dried peas per day lost about one pound after six weeks compared to those who didn't pack in these pulses—whether they were dieting or not. With loads of fiber, legumes keep bellies fuller longer and may also reduce fat absorption. Hidden bonus: Chickpeas may rev up your sex drive!

Wild rice

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Wild rice, an aquatic grass seed, offers up more fiber and protein than brown rice, according to the Whole Grains Council. It's also—you guessed it—considered a whole grain. If you're cutting calories in an effort to lose weight, incorporating whole grains helped dieters lose more belly fat over 12 weeks compared to those who ate the same amount of calories in refined grains, per 2008 research. Thank the filling power of fiber in grains for the waist-whittling benefits. Other whole grain options: quinoa, amaranth, and rye. Here are science-backed reasons to eat more whole grains.

Olive oil

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Pass the fat, please. People who ate a Mediterranean-style diet (featuring fruits and veggies, legumes, lean meats, and fish) that was supplemented with about 1.5 ounces of extra virgin olive oil per day, lost more weight and belly fat compared to a control group, in new research in The Lancet. The best part? They achieved weight loss success without counting calories or worrying about how many grams of fat they were eating. Can you say food freedom? Here's how to make your diet more Mediterranean.

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