The big, fat (pun intended) irony about trying to drop pounds is that cutting calories has a pesky habit of making you eat more, and more of the wrong types of foods. Think about the last time you nibbled a plain green salad for lunch. How did you feel by 6 pm? Ready to eat an entire anything and then have seconds? Hunger is a real, physical need you can’t overcome with willpower alone. So eat already—and stock up on these foods, which will keep you satiated for hours:
Eggs: They’re a great source of hunger-quelling protein (about 6 g per egg), plus a recent study found that women following a low-fat diet who ate 2 eggs for breakfast at least 5 days a week lost 65% more weight and averaged an 83% greater reduction in waist circumference. Not a fan? Low-fat yogurt is a great source of (breakfast-happy) protein.
Almonds: These tasty nuts contain the healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, good-for-you fats that keep your appetite sated for hours. Studies back this up—one found that after 6 months, dieters whose eating plan included almonds lost 63% more weight, lost 50% more body fat, and shrunk their waistlines 55% more than those on a high-carb diet. They’re not exactly calorie free, so watch portions (1 ounce—or 28 nuts—is about 170 calories).
Avocados: How do I love these? In many many ways, but a few slices with a little lime juice is rich, satisfying, and loaded with so many important nutrients, including those healthy monounsaturated fats, plus vitamins and minerals like potassium and folate. No, they’re not calorie free, but a few slices have between 50 and 75 calories and will make any salad or sandwich SO much more satisfying (you can even throw avocado in a smoothie, which is common in Thai food).
Apples: I’m going to resist the urge to write anything about absentee doctors and regular apple consumption, but needless to say, eating one or two of these crunchy, portable fruits really can benefit your waistline: One study found that subjects who ate one apple before every meal lost 40% more weight than those who didn’t. Plus, they’re low in calories—about 65 for one that’s medium-size.
Oatmeal: This is the food weight loss dreams are made of. It contains high amounts of soluble fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you full for hours, and one study found that subjects who ate oatmeal for breakfast every day and also walked an average of 15 to 30 minutes daily lost about 10 pounds in 12 weeks.
Peanut butter: Despite the name, peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut, but they’re still high in those craving-quashing monounsaturated fats, and research has found that dieters who snack on peanuts or peanut butter lose more weight than those who don’t. My advice is to stick with the natural kind because it’s lower in added sugars—and spread some on those apple slices next time you get the 4 pm munchies.