When it comes to slimming down, two (or more) foods can be better than one. That’s because each has different nutrients that work together. As a team, they can help you fend off hunger, stay full longer, and burn fat or calories better than they would solo.
Avocado and Dark Leafy Greens
A spinach or kale salad is low in calories and high in nutrients, but it can leave you wanting more. To make it more filling, top it with avocado. One study showed that people who had lunches that included the green fruit felt 23% more satisfied afterward than those who didn’t. That’s because it has a kind of good fat (monounsaturated) that staves off hunger. Bonus: Avocado also helps your body absorb more of the veggies’ disease-fighting antioxidants.
Chicken and Cayenne Pepper
Chicken breasts are known to be good for weight loss, and for good reason. One breast serves up 27 grams of protein for fewer than 150 calories. Protein takes longer to digest, and that can keep you full longer. Spice up this dinner staple with a rub or sauce made with cayenne pepper. It may boost your calorie burn and make you less hungry.
Oatmeal and Walnuts
A simple way to slim down: Eat the rough stuff. Simply adding more fiber to your diet can lead to weight loss. That’s because your body can’t break down fiber, so it slows down digestion and takes up space in your stomach. With 4 grams of fiber per cup, oatmeal can be a good source. Walnuts add another 2 grams, plus satisfying protein and crunch.
Eggs, Black Beans, and Peppers
Start your day with this protein-packed scramble. According to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who had eggs for breakfast ate 22% fewer calories at lunch — and less the entire day — than those who had a bagel. Black beans and peppers make this morning meal even more filling, thanks to a double dose of fiber.
Bean and Vegetable Soup
Add a broth-based vegetable soup to your lunch or dinner. The liquid fills your stomach, leaving less room for higher-calorie foods. One study showed that people who started with soup ate 20% fewer calories during a meal. Stirring in beans, such as chickpeas or black beans, can give it more staying power because they’re high in protein and fiber. In fact, eating 3 cups of beans a week has been shown to boost weight loss.
Steak and Broccoli
Too tired to hit the gym? This meal can help you out. Beef is rich in protein and iron, which your body uses to build red blood cells. They take oxygen to your organs, so falling short in those can zap your energy. Broccoli is the perfect side, because its vitamin C helps your body take in iron. A half-cup of this veggie has 65% of all the vitamin C you need in a day.
Green Tea and Lemon
If you need a pick-me-up, brew some green tea. The low-calorie drink is packed with antioxidants called catechins, which may help you burn more calories and fat. Japanese scientists found that people who drank a bottle of tea high in catechins each day shed more fat after 2 weeks than those who didn’t. To make it even healthier, add a squeeze of lemon — it helps your body absorb them.
Salmon and Sweet Potato
Fish is often called “brain food,” but it’s also good for your waist. Its omega-3 fats may help you lose body fat, and salmon is a top source. Plus, one 3-ounce serving packs in 17 grams of protein. Serve it with a baked sweet potato for a filling yet light meal. A 5-inch-long spud has 4 grams of fiber and just 112 calories.
Yogurt and Raspberries
This creamy treat may help turn up the fat burn. Research suggests that people who get more calcium and vitamin D as part of a weight loss plan shed more fat than those who don’t. So, look for a vitamin D-fortified yogurt, which serves up about 35% of all the calcium you need in a day. Top it with half a cup of raspberries for sweetness and 4 grams of fiber.
Mushrooms and Ground Beef
You can eat burgers and lose weight — the key is to swap at least 50% of the meat for chopped or ground mushrooms. With only 16 calories a cup, they can lighten any dish made with ground beef without skimping on flavor. They may also help keep your blood sugar levels steady, which helps curb cravings.
Olive Oil and Cauliflower
At just 27 calories a cup, cauliflower is a diet-friendly food. It’s also low on the glycemic index (GI), a measure of how much a food raises your blood sugar. One study showed that low-GI vegetables led to more weight loss than starchier ones, such as peas and corn. Drizzle chopped cauliflower with olive oil and roast it — this brings out the flavor, and olive oil’s fats can curb your appetite by making you feel full.
Pistachios and an Apple
Need a midday snack? This combo offers protein, healthy fats, and fiber to fend off hunger. With about 160 calories for 50 of them, pistachios are one of the lowest-calorie nuts. Plus, they’re usually packaged in their shells, which can slow you down and keep you from munching mindlessly. The apple adds sweetness and crunch to your treat, along with 4 grams of fiber.
Fish, Whole-Wheat Tortilla, and Salsa
One of the top reasons weight loss efforts fail is taste. Eating bland foods at every meal can lead to a junk food binge. So it’s important to have healthy, flavorful dishes in your lineup. Fish tacos are a perfect example: Make them with white fish for lean protein and a whole-wheat tortilla for fiber. Top them with some salsa for extra vitamins.
Dark Chocolate and Almonds
Swearing off sweets sounds like a good way to drop pounds, but it can backfire. Nixing them altogether can lead to overeating. With about 7 grams of sugar per ounce, dark chocolate is one dessert you can feel good about eating. Pairing it with high-protein almonds keeps your blood sugar levels steady, and that can keep you satisfied longer.