17 Packaged Foods That Can Help You Lose 10 Pounds This Month
When you’re busy, tired, and hungry, packaged foods can be your worst enemy—or your best friend. It all depends on what makes it into your grocery cart.
Some packaged foods have healthier ingredients
Today, there are products that may help you eat fewer 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. Also, if you’re trying to lose weight, be sure to follow these tips to clean up your diet.
Beans are lean and pack a protein punch
Nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read it Before You Eat It—Taking You from Label to Table, calls beans “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 fibre. 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. Use the beans in this tasty greens side dish.
Whole wheat bread could boost metabolism
“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 fibre requirements burned about 100 more calories per day than those who dined on refined grains. The reason: The increase in whole grains seemed to elevate their resting metabolic rate, the normal rate at which their bodies burn calories. White bread has fewer nutrients, including fibre—they’re stripped away in processing—but hearty whole-grain loaves 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-fibre, vitamin B-rich, mineral-dense nutrition punch.” (Also, check out the nutrient-packed seed that is worthy of replacing your everyday grains.)
Sparkling water can fill you up
Good hydration is always important, but especially when you’re trying to lose 10 pounds since 2016 research published in the European Journal of Nutrition shows that drinking water before meals can help reduce the number of calories you’ll consume. And it turns out, earlier research suggests that the bubbles in carbonated water do an even better job of filling you up. Plenty of brands have naturally-flavoured bubbly versions with zero calories, such as Bubly 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. Check out these flavoured water recipes that are beyond refreshing.
Salmon in a pouch could aid fat loss
Ansel 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; evidence from 2015 published in the journal PLOS One indicates these healthy fats could aid weight loss.
Try eating salmon in a quinoa and squash grain bowl.
Cocoa nibs deliver iron and fibre
Blatner calls these crushed bits of cacao bean “Nature’s chocolate chip.” Because they’re minimally processed, they retain all their rich chocolate flavour, as well as antioxidants and nutrients including iron and fibre (they do come from a bean, after all), without added sugar. Try adding a few to oatmeal or energy bars for a healthy chocolate fix.
Probiotic foods fight bloat
There’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, nuts, and pumpkin seed snacks. Try having coconut kefir for breakfast, as it has many health benefits.
Unsweetened almond milk has fewer calories
Nut 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 flavoured versions, which can have added sugar. You want to aim for 6 grams of sugar or less per cup of almond milk. Check out our guide to learn more about plant-based milks.
Cauliflower rice won’t spike blood sugar
Swapping this cruciferous vegetable 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 fibre to fill you up, Zeitlin says. That fibre 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 to save you kitchen time and calories. Want to make it from scratch? Here’s how to make healthy cauliflower pizza.
Dry-roasted chickpeas offer a healthy crunch
Waist-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 fibre 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.
Tea can satisfy a sweet tooth
Brewed 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 flavours 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.”
Pulse pasta is more nutritious and filling
Swapping white flour pasta for noodles made from lentils, chickpeas, or edamame packs protein and fibre 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. You can also try butternut squash and kale ravioli for a healthy pasta option.
Dehydrated fruit has no added sugar
Freeze-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. (Psst: These are the best fruits for people with diabetes.)
Popcorn has filling fibre
This super snack is a whole grain, which makes it a naturally a good source of fibre that can help fill you up and keep you full, says Zeitlin. Research from 2012 published in Nutrition Journal suggests that popcorn is a more satisfying snack than potato chips. Stick to air-popped varieties to avoid extra sugar and fat.
Whole seeded crackers keep you full
Crackers 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.
Snack bars can be a smart on-the-go snack
“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 fibre per bar. You can also make your homemade healthy snack bars.)
Pre-bagged greens or coleslaw
Washing 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 favourite. “It makes a great Asian noodle bowl and has tons of fibre,” she says. (Try our Mexican and Korean Fusion Kimchi Coleslaw.)
Low-cal ice cream hits the spot
In case that treat-flavoured 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. Check out our favourite healthy pints—Zeitlin also loves 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 flavours to choose from,” she adds, “although my favourite is still the chocolate mocha chip.”
Now that you know what to put in your cart, check out natural appetite suppressants that really work.