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Published on June 18, 2021

8 Best Foods for Dieters to Eat Healthily

8 Best Foods for Dieters to Eat Healthily
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When looking to start a healthy diet, it can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many diet foods to choose from, and the media gives us mixed messages about which foods are healthy constantly. Luckily, a registered dietitian is here to quickly break down the best diet foods for dieters looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, I’ll also provide some ideas on how to simply and easily incorporate these foods into your diet.

Here are the eight best diet food for a healthy body.

1. Nuts

Nuts often get a bad reputation due to their fat content. However, that is exactly what makes them great! Nuts have plenty of healthy fats called polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and fiber. These nutrients help to provide satiety after a meal and keep dieters full longer.

In addition to keeping you full, nuts have also been shown to help improve your health. For example, one study found that nuts helped improve blood glucose control, weight control, and heart health.[1]

One thing to keep in mind with nut consumption is that because of their high levels of fat, they have a lot of calories. It’s important that when you are eating nuts, you do so in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume about four servings of unsalted nuts per week. One serving of nuts is equal to a small handful of whole nuts (1.5 ounces). If you choose to use nut butter instead, a serving size is two tablespoons.[2]

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2. Lean Protein

When you’re dieting or looking to build muscle, you must eat enough protein. We hear this message all the time from personal trainers, magazines, and nutrition coaches, but what foods are they really talking about?

When you’re looking to increase your protein consumption, you want to focus on lean sources of protein. This includes things such as chicken breast and lean beef. Lean protein sources exclude items such as beef or pork, which have more saturated fat (an unhealthy type of fat that you should aim to reduce your intakes of).

In addition to helping you build muscle, protein is actually harder for our body to digest, meaning that we burn more calories in trying to do so. This is referred to as the “thermic effect of food.” Since our body has to work harder to digest lean protein, we end up storing fewer usable calories than if we eat carbohydrates or fat.[3]

3. Fish

Fish, like chicken breast or lean beef, is a high-protein food that is overall low in fat. While certain fishes, such as salmon, are fattier, these contain healthful fats similar to those found in nuts. The fat in fish also provides other nutrients to the body, such as Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, and various mental health disorders, such as depression and dementia.[4]

Fish can also be a great protein source for individuals who follow a plant-forward, Mediterranean, or pescatarian diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults in the US eat two to three servings of fish per week with one serving being about the size of your palm (4 ounces).

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4. Whole Grains

While we’ve discussed the fact that protein has a much higher thermic effect on food than carbohydrates or fats, it is still crucial that we have healthy carbohydrates as a part of our diet. To do this, dieters will want to focus on choosing whole grain foods.

Whole grain products are less refined than their counterparts, meaning that they have more nutrients in them. Whole grains provide the body with fiber, which helps keep you feeling full longer and promotes satiety. Fiber can also help lower cholesterol and prevent blood clot formation.

Whole-grain foods also help the body to maintain a steady blood glucose level, something that’s important for all dieters but especially crucial for those with pre-diabetes or diabetes. These foods also supply the body with various vitamins and minerals, such as iron, Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, copper, and antioxidants.[5]

If you’re looking for a way to introduce whole grains into your diet, try incorporating oatmeal into your breakfast! If plain old oatmeal feels too boring, you may want to try making Bircher Muesli, a blend of oats and any toppings you prefer, soaked overnight.

5. Legumes

While you have probably heard of nuts, lean protein, and whole grains, the term “legumes” may be a bit more foreign. Legumes are a category of vegetable and include items such as green peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

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According to the American Diabetes Association, regular intake of legumes can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and improve blood glucose control for those who have already developed this disease. They have also been shown to improve heart health, and research shows that they may improve weight control, which is key for dieters.[6]

Some legumes, such as chickpeas and beans, can also serve as a great source of lean protein for individuals who are looking to follow a more plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet. Throwing some chickpeas or rinsed, unsalted black beans on top of a salad or brown rice bowl can be a delicious way to get protein and keep yourself full without consuming animal products!

6. Berries

As we have noted, fiber is an extremely important nutrient for dieters. It can help improve blood glucose stability and improve heart health, all while keeping you full and satisfied after meals. Berries, like nuts and whole grains, are high in fiber. In addition, berries provide our bodies with antioxidants, which are substances that can help. prevent cell damage.[7]

It is best to consume antioxidants in whole foods rather than supplements, so go ahead and add some berries into your day! If you are still not convinced, check out these other benefits that fresh or frozen berries can provide.

7. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens are yet another great source of fiber as well as other vitamins and minerals. For example, kale and spinach are high in Vitamins A, E, C, and K. Other dark leafy greens such as broccoli and mustard greens are high in many of the B-vitamins.

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Dark leafy greens also provide a high level of antioxidants, which, as previously noted, help prevent cell damage. Antioxidants have been known to help prevent osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases.[8] These greens are also low in calories and carbohydrates, which is helpful for those looking to slim down.

Adding dark leafy greens into your diet is so easy! They are the perfect base for a salad, or you can make a sandwich or wrap that includes them.

8. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt, which we’ve already seen is very helpful for those individuals who are dieting. Additionally, greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates than its regular counterpart.[9] Greek yogurt also provides your body with probiotics, which can help to improve gut health and reduce bloating.

When looking for greek yogurt, be sure to choose one that is lower in sugar to prevent the intake of unnecessary calories. Go for an unsweetened yogurt if possible, and add your own toppings such as berries or nuts to give it more flavor.

In Conclusion

If you are looking to start a diet while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s not difficult. As we’ve discussed, there are so many healthful foods that many of us are already eating in our daily lives. If you are not eating some of these foods, it is so easy to start!

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If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, don’t be afraid to grab a handful of nuts as a snack or make some oatmeal for breakfast in the morning. These foods will help keep you full and provide your body with many of the nutrients it needs to help your diet on track.

More Diet Tips

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Samantha Klig, RD

Registered Dietitian

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Published on July 14, 2021

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)
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We’ve all had late-night cravings. Those times when you would lie in bed but your mind is on the fridge. You try to fight it, but you find out that you can’t. Food—you want food—to chew and to drink and to swallow. It usually goes this way: after much hesitation, you would get off your bed and walk over to the kitchen where you would stand for seconds and maybe even minutes contemplating a lot of things.

You have heard about it—read about it, too—the famous “eating late at night isn’t good for you.” You know well about how eating late at night can cause you stress and make you gain weight. But you just want to eat—and eat you must.

But what must you eat? What are your best and most healthy options? Here are the 13 best foods to eat at night.

1. Turkey

If you aren’t a vegetarian, then you most probably love turkey. It is not only very tasty and delicious, but it is quite nutritious, too. Turkey contains a lot of protein. As little as 28 grams of turkey already contains eight grams of protein.[1]

It also contains some amount of vitamins and a nutritive compound called selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring the thyroid gland functions properly.

Turkey passes as one of the best foods to eat at night because the protein tryptophan, which it contains in a considerable amount, is believed to promote tiredness and thus, sleepiness.[2]

2. Fish

Another great choice for non-vegetarians is fish, especially fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These are considered healthy choices because they contain a considerable amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body regulate its calcium levels and is good for your kidneys, parathyroid glands, skin, etc.

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Fatty fishes also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of healthy fatty acids that can serve as anti-inflammatory agents and are good for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to be able to increase the amount of serotonin produced by the nervous system, and thus, make sleep feel better.[3] This means that fishes would not keep you awake! You don’t have to roll from side to side trying to fall asleep after eating them.

Fishes also contain nutritive oils that are good for your body and skin.

3. White Rice

White rice is just rice that has no bran germ—that is, both bran and germ have to be removed as a result of processing from brown rice to make it white rice. This removal of bran and germ causes white rice to contain lower fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants when compared with brown rice. However, white rice still contains a commendable amount of nutrients such as thiamine, folate, and manganese and so is great as a late-night meal.

White rice has a high Glycemic Index. (GI). A food’s glycemic index is simply the measure of the rate at which that food increases the body’s sugar level. Taking in foods with a GI index, such as rice, can improve the quality of one’s sleep. This is as long as one takes these foods one hour before sleep. If you plan to sleep by 7 p.m, then it is a good idea to eat white rice by 6.p.m.[4]

4. Bananas

Finally, Something for vegetarians. A fruit! Bananas not only taste good, but they are also rich in the compounds potassium and tryptophan, making them one of the best foods to eat at night.

Tryptophan, as earlier stated, is an essential protein that plays a role in relaxation. Some bananas before meals can improve the quality of your sleep. Plus, they contain vitamins and are rich in antioxidants. They also contain compounds that are capable of making bowel movements easier.

5. Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers, crackers being a source of carbohydrates and cheese a source of tryptophan, can help balance the body’s sugar level. When you take cheese and crackers together, more tryptophan is made available to your brain.[5] The sugar in cheese feeds your brain, and tryptophan helps with the production of melatonin.

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This means that there would be more serotonin and melatonin production in your nervous system when you take cheese and crackers together. Serotonin improves the quality of a person’s sleep.

6. Warm Cereals

Cereals are great sources of fiber. Ones like oats also contain an impressive amount of melatonin, which improves sleep.

Before bed, a hot bowl of cereal and maybe even whole grains are a good choice. They do not contain a lot of calories and would most likely not keep you awake.

7. Yoghurt

Yogurt tastes good, and kids and adults love them. They are also a rich source of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral to the body. It is necessary for the growth of bone and teeth, and skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles need it for muscular contractions to happen.

Your body also needs calcium to produce melatonin from tryptophan. If calcium levels are low, there will be a reduced rate of production of melatonin—and thus, low quality sleep. Yogurt also contains casein. Casein is believed to reduce early morning hunger.

Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack and one of the best foods to eat at night.

8. Eggs

Eggs are great sources of protein and don’t contain many calories. As a late-night snack, eggs are a great pick. They are easy to cook and can go along with many different kinds of snacks.

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Eggs also contain tryptophan, which—as you must now already know—can improve the quality of one’s sleep.

9. Protein-Pineapple Smoothie

As you may have noticed, most of the snacks and foods on this list of best foods to eat at night are protein-rich foods. Protein-rich meals taken around bedtime can boost muscle repair. They can also combat age-related muscle mass loss especially in people who frequently exercise.

As a late-night snack, you can blend some pineapple pieces into milk. Milk is a great source of the protein tryptophan from which the body produces melatonin. Pineapples do not contain a lot of calories and might not prove a threat to your body’s normal digestive functions. Pineapples can also boost your body’s serotonin levels.[6]

10. Tart Cherries

Juices made from tart cherries are great alongside other snacks, such as crackers and cheese. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory effects. Even though in small quantities, tart cherries contain the sleep hormone melatonin. They also contain procyanidin B-2, which is believed to keep stable the essential amino acid tryptophan.[7]

Tart Cherries have low calories, too. This means that they are not too heavy and do not pose the threat of fat deposition, and they would not keep you awake.

11. Honey

Honey harvested from bees is nutritious and does not contain a lot of calories. It is known to be capable of increasing the production of melatonin in one’s body.[8]

It also contains healthy sugars, such as fructose and glucose, and can have a healthy effect on your body’s sugar level. Honey is one of the best food to eat late at night.

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12. Popcorn

When it isn’t swathed in sugar and milk and other fatty stuff, popcorn presents as a great late-night snack. Popcorn is a low-calorie snack and contains a rich amount of fiber.[9] High-fiber grains are believed to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Also, popcorn contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants believed to improve circulation and in general, health.

13. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are amazing. They taste so good. Do you like french fries? Then baked sweet potato fries are a great pick you might want to consider.

As a late-night snack, you can very well bake sweet potatoes instead of frying them. They are easier to prepare when baked and do not contain so much fat. Sweet potatoes contain a good quantity of fiber and vitamins.[10]They also contain some great amounts of protein.

Final Thoughts

When next you have the craving for a late-night meal, you should know that not all meals are great when eaten at night. Some are about right, and others could contribute to excessive weight gain, heart diseases, digestive disorders, and other health issues.

Have you ever woken up with swollen eye bags, felt nauseous, or had malaise after a late-night meal? Then it’s possible the meal was not a great pick.

When choosing the best meals and snacks to eat at night, you should choose meals that contain low calories—not more than 200 calories—and have high protein content. Proteins like tryptophan enhance the quality of sleep. Some of these foods include eggs, turkey, cheese, bananas, yogurt, juices, etc.

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Remember, eating healthy is a great way to remain healthy.

More Healthy Snacks Options

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

Reference

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