3 Small Diet Changes That May Lead to Weight Loss

Eat well without feeling deprived.

two women in kitchen prepare a healthy meal with fruits and vegetables

Updated on September 13, 2023.

When you think of trying to lose weight, what comes to mind? Are you concerned about skipping foods you love? Do you worry about feeling hungry all the time or eating meals that aren’t tasty? 

In fact, making drastic changes to your diet, especially ones that you can’t maintain, could set you up for a rough road. Instead, try these research-backed tweaks that can help you make wise food choices and cut calories.

Be smart about fruit

Many fruits are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates. That might sound like it could lead to weight gain. But, in fact, fruit is a vital part of a healthy diet.

A 2019 review of studies published in Frontiers in Nutrition found that regularly eating whole, fresh fruit was linked to either no weight change or offered protection against weight gain. (Whole fruit means fruit that isn’t processed or used as an ingredient in another dish.)

That’s likely because fruit is different from processed, artificially sweetened foods in a few important ways. While eating too much sugar is in general associated with health issues and extra pounds, fruit is filled with fiber, water, and a variety of vitamins and nutrients. This can help you feel fuller for longer and boost your overall health.

Though eating any whole fruit offers health benefits, a 2020 review of studies, published in Nutrients, put together a list of the most common fruits eaten in the United States that are linked to healthy weight management. These smart choices included apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, grapes, lemons, oranges, peaches, strawberries, and watermelon. 

Tip: For about 100 calories, have one medium-size apple, 1 cup of grapes, 16 medium strawberries, or 2 cups of watermelon. 

Ditch the white bread and white rice

Refined grains like white bread and white rice lack the filling and healthful fiber, minerals, and other nutrients found in whole-grain breads, brown rice, and other whole-grain foods. But there are other reasons to say “no thanks” to refined grains.

For one thing, swapping out refined grains for whole grains has shown steady weight benefits. A 2019 meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients, for example, found that higher whole grain intake is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI). It can also positively affect the way body weight changes over time.

Whole grains may also help protect you from diabetes. For a study published BMJ in 2020, researchers looked at data from about 200,000 people over several decades to discover who developed type 2 diabetes and how this related to whole grain intake. Those who ate more whole grains, including dark bread and brown rice, had a significantly lower risk of the condition.

That’s not all. If you already have diabetes or difficulty managing your blood sugar, eating whole grains may have a positive effect. A 2022 meta-analysis of 32 studies published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, for example, found that it helped regulate fasting glucose levels.

Tip: Challenge yourself to ditch white bread for 10 days and see how much you really miss it. Try some whole grain options instead. You could boost both your health and weight loss efforts. 

Pump up the volume

Foods that are whipped or puffed with air may help you feel full without a lot of calories. The idea is that the food’s volume—the amount of space it takes up—can help with feeling satisfied. 

Take popcorn. It’s light and airy, so you end up eating about a third fewer calories than you would with an equivalent amount of more calorie-dense snacks, like potato chips. 

If you use cream cheese or other spreads, try the whipped variety. They have fewer calories and fat than regular varieties.

Tip: Try whipping air into eggs for fluffy omelets. To get maximum volume, mix them in a blender. When you’re ready to cook, don’t hold back on loading them up with nutrient-dense but calorie-light vegetables.

Article sources open article sources

Guyenet SJ. Impact of Whole, Fresh Fruit Consumption on Energy Intake and Adiposity: A Systematic Review. Front Nutr. 2019 May 8;6:66.
Dreher ML, Ford NA. A Comprehensive Critical Assessment of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Weight Loss in Women. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 29;12(7):1919.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Raw Fruits Poster (Text Version / Accessible Version). Page last updated December 13, 2017.
Maki KC, Palacios OM, Koecher K, et al. The Relationship between Whole Grain Intake and Body Weight: Results of Meta-Analyses of Observational Studies and Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2019 May 31;11(6):1245. 
Hu Y, Ding M, Sampson L, et al. Intake of whole grain foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2020 Jul 8;370:m2206. 
Li Z, Yan H, Chen L, et al. Effects of whole grain intake on glycemic control: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Diabetes Investig. 2022 Nov;13(11):1814-1824.
Osterholt KM, Roe LS, Rolls BJ. Incorporation of air into a snack food reduces energy intake. Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):351-8. 
Appleton KM, Newbury A, Almiron-Roig E, et al. Sensory and physical characteristics of foods that impact food intake without affecting acceptability: Systematic review and meta-analyses. Obes Rev. 2021 Aug;22(8):e13234. 
Rolls BJ, Bell EA, Waugh BA. Increasing the volume of a food by incorporating air affects satiety in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2):361-8. 

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