Eat Vegetables To Lose Weight
Here are 5 of the best-kept secrets on losing weight with vegetables:
1. They are a good protein source.
Most people think of "protein foods" to be meat and dairy. Savvy shoppers also know that legumes are a great source of protein. Very few people are aware that low-calorie vegetables like salad greens are also very protein dense.
For example, my favorite "spring mix" of organic salad greens (by Earthbound Farm, and available at Costco,) has only 15 calories but 1 gram of protein. 1 gram of protein doesn't sound like much, but you have to look at the protein to calorie ratio. If you were able to eat 300 calories worth of this delicious salad mix, you'd enjoy 20 grams of healthy, muscle-building protein and 20 grams of healthy, body-cleansing fiber. That doesn't even mention the wonderful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that make up the "free prize" in every box.
Of course, because fiber and protein are so filling, it would be very tough to eat 300 calories of this salad mix. In fact, to get 300 calories, you'd need to eat 20 servings (that's 40 cups of salad!) But hey, that's part of my point. If you'd like to eat more and weigh less, befriend some veggies!
One of my other favorite vegetables is broccoli. One cup of chopped broccoli is about 30 calories. It has 2.5 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Now compare that to one of those pesky little "100 calorie packs" of junk food. As one of my clients pointed out today (with the slightest bit of exaggeration, but not much!): "you get about two Doritos." Those tiny junk food treats will not fill you up because they have little or no protein or fiber. In fact, they may contain fats that trigger a hunger response. Instead, you could enjoy a big plate of 3 cups of broccoli. You'll be stuffed!
What about celery? I think most people think of it as "eating water." It couldn't possibly contain protein or fiber, could it? Yes, it could- in fact, it contains 2 grams of fiber and almost a whole gram of protein in a mere 19 calories. Best of all, for those 19 calories you get 1 cup of chopped celery. That will fill you up.
Beans have more calories, but they are also a great source of protein. 1 cup of cooked black beans contains 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein for 230 calories. Not bad at all.
2. They are very filling.
As mentioned above, protein and fiber satiate. Veggies offer plenty of both while keeping the calories low. If you are very hungry but would like to lose weight, your best bet is to learn to love your veggies.
People with tremendous willpower lose weight while eating their favorite foods. They just eat much less of them. This is very tough because junk foods do not satiate, so you have to constantly deny your hunger. This goes against our very instinct to survive. This is also one reason why many people lose large amounts of weight just to put it on again. They are not able to ignore their hunger indefinitely.
If you learn to add vegetables to everything you eat, you will naturally feel fuller and more satisfied. This is a way of life that you can sustain indefinitely. This is a secret to long-term weight loss.
3. They are a cheap insurance policy. They protect you from stroke, heart disease, and cancer.
It seems like every day a different fruit or vegetable is profiled in the newspaper or on TV for its great antioxidant, mineral or vitamin powers. Vegetables have the power to heal. They help us rebuild, fight infection, and even avoid cancers and heart disease. Isn't this reason enough to learn to love them?
4. They have the best fiber-to-calorie ratio of all foods.
If you're a member of MyFitnessTrainer.com and you've spent any time in the Free Fitness Library, you know all about the fiber to calorie ratio. A high fiber to calorie ratio means that a food will make you feel full and even trick your body into burning more calories while you eat fewer calories. This is critical to weight loss. The trick is to convince your body that you're pigging out while you really eat a calorie deficit. The secret to success with this technique is to eat your veggies.
Going back to my favorite salad greens, they have a fiber to calorie ratio of 1:15. That is phenomenal. This is the kind of food that almost takes more calories to chew and process than what it provides.
Remember that generally with meals a fiber to calorie ratio of 1:100 is good.
5. You can eat all you want of many types of vegetables while losing weight.
There are lots of veggies that are, in effect, "free foods." They do provide calories, but they'll never be the reason for a lack of weight loss. In fact, you could probably get away with not even recording the calories for many of these foods, and still lose 2 lbs a week. Here is a list (though definitely not complete,) of some foods you can eat a LOT of:
In conclusion, Grandma knew what she was talking about when she said to eat your veggies. All I have to add to it is some extra motivation: it's one of the most effective ways to lose weight!