Grab a pen and paper, open up your notes app, or press that printer button—we’re about to reveal your ultimate, go-to grocery shopping list for weight loss.
Before we get into the best foods to include on a weight loss grocery list, keep in mind that these foods alone won’t promote weight loss. Weight loss will only come with healthy eating patterns and a balanced diet. It will also require you to consume fewer calories than you burn. The CDC recommends you focus on substitution rather than addition when it comes to weight loss.
“If you start eating fruits and vegetables in addition to what you usually eat, you are adding calories and may gain weight. The key is substitution. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of some other higher-calorie food,” says the CDC.
A healthy grocery list for weight loss needs to have these types of foods, as recommended by the CDC:
- Vegetables (particularly foods rich in prebiotics)
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats
- Lean meats
- Nuts & seeds
- Low-fat dairy products
Read on to find specific examples of each of these types of food along with a science-backed explanation of exactly how they support weight loss. And for more on healthy eating, don’t miss 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
Flax, Chia, and Hemp Seeds
When you double fiber intake from 12 to 24 grams per day, you may burn up to an additional 92 calories per day, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. An easy way to boost your fiber intake right away? Stock up on seeds. Rich in anti-inflammatory, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and plant protein, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are must-haves in a weight loss diet. Tip: Make sure to grind flaxseeds before eating—your body can’t digest the whole seed, so unless you grind it, you won’t be able to access its benefits.
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Beans, beans, they’ll help you lose weight! A meta-analysis of all available clinical trials on the effects of eating pulses showed that adding just 3/4 cup of beans to your diet every day for six weeks can help you lose 0.75 pounds. Some ideas to eat more legumes: Add chickpeas to salads, black beans to quesadillas, peas to pasta, and simmered kidney beans as a side to grilled chicken.
An apple a day will help keep the weight at bay. As apples are high in fiber, low in calories, and rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants, it’s no surprise they can promote weight loss. A trial published in the journal Appetite found that when women ate three apples per day for 10 weeks—without changing anything else with their diet—they lost two pounds. Another observational study of over 120,000 participants, which was published in PLoS Medicine, discovered that people who ate apples lost an average of 1.24 pounds per daily serving over a four-year period.
Nuts may be high in calories, but they’re still a potent tool for weight loss when eaten in moderation. A study published in the journal Obesity show that those who consume two or more portions of nuts a week had a 31 percent lower risk of weight gain compared to those who never or rarely ate them. Nuts don’t just prevent weight gain, they also promote weight loss. When 65 overweight or obese individuals supplemented their diet with nuts over the course of 24 weeks, they had a 62% greater reduction in weight and BMI, 50% greater reduction in waist circumference, and 56% greater reduction in fat mass as compared to those who supplemented their diet with healthy complex carbs.
Avocados truly live up to their hype—and we’re not just talking about their ability to make any dish Instagram-worthy. Healthy fats are an essential part of a weight loss diet as they promote satiety and are also essential for helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Add half an avocado to your lunch, and a study published in Nutrition Journal found that you can experience a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. That’s how you feel fuller for longer.
TK Special antioxidants called catechins which are found in high amounts in green tea, especially matcha green tea, are believed to rev up the metabolism and increase your body’s ability to burn fat. One small study found that women who drank matcha grade green tea before brisk walking workouts burned more fat than exercisers who did not drink matcha. Plus, an analysis of 14 studies published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal showed that people who drank a high concentration of green tea lost up to 7.7 pounds more than subjects who did not drink green tea.
Curious about the 12 Side Effects of Eating Oatmeal? We’ll give you a sneak peek: they can help you lose weight. A Nutrients trial had a group of participants consume 100 grams of oats per day. After one year, researchers checked back in with the groups and found that oat-eaters experienced a significant reduction in weight—2 pounds. The researchers note that short- and long-term oat intake also has an effect on controlling hyperglycemia and lowering blood lipids.
Stock your fridge with high-protein yogurts like Greek yogurt or Icelandic yogurt, and you’ll help your body melt away fat. A study in the journal Appetite compared the satiety effects of high-, moderate-, and low-protein yogurts on women. Researchers found that Greek yogurt, with the highest protein content of 12-15 grams per serving, had the greatest effect on squashing appetite.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Forget those bottled salad dressings or canola oil for frying and grab yourself a bottle of olive oil. Rich in monounsaturated fats and oleic acid—two fats known to have satiating and anti-inflammatory effects, olive oil has been found to encourage weight loss. In a Journal of Women’s Health study, researchers found that when participants consumed 3 tablespoons of olive oil per day for 8 weeks, they lost more weight than those who followed a lower-fat diet.
Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Olive Oil
Toss that cereal and grab a carton of eggs. Eggs are one of the 10 Best Breakfast Foods That Keep You Full, According to a Dietitian thanks to their high protein content. As we’ve noted, keeping you full for longer can help you lose weight in the long run. A Nutrition Research study found that eating eggs for breakfast can make you feel more full and help you eat fewer calories throughout the day compared to eating a bagel.
Whole Grain Bread
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to cut bread out of your diet if you want to lose weight. In fact, keeping bread—the right bread, that’s rich in fiber and made with whole grains—in your diet can help you lose weight. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that swapping refined grains for whole grains increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. Unlike nutrient-devoid refined grains, whole grains are rich in satiating, heart-healthy fiber.
Berries are high in fiber and antioxidants—what we now know is a winning combo for weight loss. One study showed that when people ate a 65-calorie berry snack, they ended up eating less food at their next meal compared to those who ate the same caloric amount from candy. Why not add more berries to your diet with the help of these The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies.