What staple foods should I eat for healthy weight loss?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
When trying to lose weight your diet staples should be lean proteins, lots of non starchy vegetables, limited amounts of fruit and a little bit of healthy fat to keep you satisfied and full.

Make 1/2 of your plate full of waist-friendly fruits and veggies. They are high in volume and satiety (that feeling of fullness) but low in calories per bite. They will crowd out other higher calories foods such as fatty meats, chicken with the skin on, and refined grains.

Americans are falling short of the recommended minimum 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily. Try to eat this much each day.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

Fill your pantry with 100% whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, lean protein and low fat dairy. A Mediterranean based diet has been shown very effective for eating healthier and reducing chronic disease.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

A balanced plate is the best way to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to support weight loss. Here are some great tips for helping you to incorporate a healthy weight loss:

For healthy weight loss, you should eat the following staple foods:

  1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables - shoot for 6 to 9 (1/2c) servings a day. This helps to fill you up with lower calorie, nutrient rich foods
  2. Eat more whole grains - make ½ your grains whole. This is a great source of complex carbohydrates that provide longer-lasting energy.
  3. Choose unsaturated fats and oils - though all fat should be limited as it is a dense source of calories, unsaturated options provide essential fatty acids, and are better for your heart. Limit saturated fats such as butter or margarine.
  4. Choose heart healthy proteins - protein helps to fill you up and is essential, but most animal proteins are also a source of calorically dense fat. Choose fish, skinless poultry and egg whites most often, to get a good source of protein while limiting fat.
  5. Select low-fat dairy products - choosing low fat cheeses, yogurts, and milk help to provide your body with protein, but not a lot of additional fat. 
  6. Limit sugar - for a healthy weight and longer-lasting energy, keep sugar and sweets to a minimum.
Cindy Guirino
Nutrition & Dietetics

Five Fantastic Foods for healthy weight loss include:

  1. Legumes: beans, lentils, peas
  2. High Fiber Cereals: All-Bran
  3. Fresh Fruit: Berries are Best!
  4. Fresh Vegetables: Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Carrots!
  5. Non-caloric beverages: Water, Tea, Coffee
Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine

Low-sodium chicken broth and broth-based vegetable and bean soups are ideal pantry items. Always read the labels to ensure sodium levels are less than 350 milligrams per serving. Stock up on 100% whole grain pasta, whole grain couscous and brown rice. "Multigrain" does not mean it is healthy. The label must read 100% whole wheat. Canned wild fish, including salmon and tuna, are other foods to have on hand. These contain omega-3 fatty acids. Low-sodium canned tomatoes and beans, whole grain cereals and oatmeal are other good options. Do not buy fast-cooking oatmeal; it raises your blood sugar too quickly.

Also, stock up on natural style peanut butter or other nut butters, olive oil, canola oil and breads made with flax or sprouted wheat; these are an excellent source of protein and good fats, and have a smaller percentage of carbohydrates.

Sasson E. Moulavi, MD
General Practice

You must eat at least 16 ounces of lean protein per day such as, fish chicken or tofu. You must also eat 5 serving of vegetables especially green leafy vegetables. Kale for example has as much protein calorie per calorie as meat.

Nuts (not roasted in oils) are a great choice due to protein and healthy fats. Fruits may be a problem because of high sugar content, I advise people to stay away from fruit until they are closer to a healthy weight.

Use only olive or Canola oil. No palm, Lard or Animal fats.

Low fat cheese, Soy and almond milk are great as well.

Some ideas for lunch and dinner and snacks

6 ounces of chicken with a kale salad.

Handful of almonds, low fat cheese.

High protein cereal (Kashi or Smart for Life) with almond or soymilk.

Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics

Sticking to a routine could be a productive way to lose weight. By eating stables, such as oatmeal for breakfast, yogurt for lunch and fish for dinner, you avoid the calorie fluctuations of different foods. This approach may be too boring for some people. On the bright side, it makes shopping quick and easy. KISS = Keep It Simple Sweetie.

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

Whole grains, lean protein, plenty of fruits and vegetables and good sources of calcium like low fat milk and yogurt are all staples of a healthy weight loss plan.  It may be easier than you think to fit these in.  Check out this menu for a day of healthy eating:

For breakfast, enjoy an egg with spinach and tomato on a whole grain English muffin with a side of fresh fruit.  Quiet the mid-morning munchies with yogurt.  For lunch, enjoy a large salad with your favorite vegetables, beans and grilled chicken or fish topped with a vinaigrette dressing.  Before your afternoon workout, fuel up with a small apple or banana with a smear of peanut butter.  At dinner, try quinoa (a protein-rich whole grain that looks a little like couscous) with salmon and broccoli. 

Be sure to mind your portions.  Even healthy foods can pack on the pounds if your portions are too large. 

In a weight loss diet your goal is to take less calories in( eat less) than calories out ( burn more). At the same time you want to get maximum nutrients in your body to assist you with energy supply ( for those fat burning workouts). You are aiming for foods with highest amount of nutrients and the least amount of calories. People who eat dense nutrient diet are healthier, having fewer cravings and are naturally closer to their ideal body weight.


Each gram of carbohydrates or protein yields 4 calories, but each gram of fat yields 9 calories. Having said that it makes sense to include more protein and complex carbohydrates in our weight loss menu and limit the fats, to just the heart healthy fats from nuts and seeds.


Normally, about 10 percent of total calories you burn are spent to digest the foods you eat. When you eat foods that are more complex to digest( like protein or complex carbohydrates) you burn more calories to break down the food. This is called the thermic effect of foods. Thermic effects of the three major macro-nutrients are:

Protein 20%, Carbohydrates 8% and Fats 2% of calories consumed.

All the facts above brings us to the conclusion that a restricted caloric diet containing following foods leads to a healthy weight loss:

** Fiber rich Fruits, Dark leafy greens: vegetables and grains which help you 
     sustain energy and feel full for longer.

** Lean Proteins:
like fish and poultry.

** Low amount of Fats:
including only healthy fats from nuts and seeds.

Dominique Adair
This may sound kooky, but the weight loss foods you should start with are the ones you like – provided they are healthy foods!  Nutritionists like foods that are nutrient dense.  That means they provide the most amount of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, and other health promoting compounds) per calorie.  Think of it like “bang for your buck.”  If your buck is a calorie, you want to get as many nutrients as possible for that buck.  To continue this budget analogy, think of a healthy weight loss program like being on a slightly tighter economic budget.  You have to cover your basics (car payment, home, etc.), and then hopefully you have a little extra left over for fun purchases.  Healthy weight loss follows the same model.  You want to make sure your body’s basics are covered with nutrients, and then use a little left over for the occasional extras (read “desserts”).

So the best foods for weight loss are those nutrient dense foods that you like.  Here are some categories and examples to help you organize your preferences:

1. Grains (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc.)
2. Fruits (Mango, berries, apples, oranges, etc.)
3. Vegetables (green beans, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, etc.)
4. Lean protein (tofu, poultry, eggs, beans/legumes, etc.)
5. Dairy (non-fat milk, milk products, and milk alternatives like rice and soy milks)
6. Healthy fats (unsaturated oils like olive, canola, walnut, grape seed, flaxseed as well as nuts themselves)

Try to find 4 healthy foods from each category that YOU enjoy and those are the healthiest foods for weight loss FOR YOU.   Sometimes trying to eat the latest greatest foods can backfire (especially if you don’t like them), so start with your own preferences, and make portion appropriate choices…And every once in a while enjoy a treat food too.
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

A few staple foods for achieving healthy weight loss are:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yams (and sweet potatoes)
  • Brown rice
  • Green, yellow, orange, purple, or red fibrous, nutrient dense vegetables
  • Fresh fruit (tropical fruits in moderation)
  • Nonfat dairy products
  • High-quality whey protein
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Chicken and turkey breast, skinless and boneless, including ground chicken or turkey, but choose the leanest varieties available
  • Eggs (including egg substitutes like Egg Beaters) and egg whites, fish, and very lean red meats
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.