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LED Foods: The Secret to Losing Weight Without Feeling Hungry

These foods are the unsung heroes of weight loss.

All in all, the formula to lose weight is quite simple: Tweak your eating habits to cut calories + add regular exercise to your routine to blast fat = a slimmer, healthier you.

Integrating that formula into your everyday life for lasting weight loss? Yea, that’s not as easy. 

Many people struggle to shed pounds because they think weight loss means they have to deprive themselves. I can no longer eat this. I shouldn’t have that. I can’t go out tonight because I have to go to the gym.

We look down at our plates and see more plate than actual food. We eat the amount of food we think will slim us down, and we’re left hungry, thinking that’s what it takes to lose weight.

In fact, feeling hungry is not a sign of being a “good dieter.” It might actually cause you to take your calorie-cutting efforts too far and sabotage your slim-down goal in the process.

When you fight against your natural appetite to feel satisfied, you eventually take it so far that you fall off the weight loss wagon and eat nearly an entire box of cookies and think, Eh, I’ll just start again on Monday. (PS: It happens to the best of us. Here’s how to survive a diet setback.) 

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can eat more, feel satisfied, and still lose weight. The trick is to fill your diet with low energy density (LED) foods.

“Energy density” is the amount of energy (or calories) per gram of food. LED foods provide fewer calories per gram of food, which means you can fill your plate and tummy for less calories.

What makes LED foods such a powerful weight loss tool? Their ingredients. LED foods are made of mostly water, and are either high in protein or fiber, or both.  

If a food is mostly water, it dilutes the calories in the food, so you can eat more of it guilt-free (score). If the LED food is also high in fiber or protein, those ingredients will help keep you full so you won’t want to eat more.

In general, LED foods include: veggies, fruits, lean proteins, certain whole grains, low-fat dairy, and broth-based soups. Here are some gold star LEDs to add to your diet:

  • 1 cup of broccoli = 90% water, 31 cals, 2.5 g of fiber + protein
  • 1 cup blackberries = 90% water, 62 cals, 7.5 g of fiber, 2 g protein  
  • 1 large apple = 85% water, 116 cals, 5.5 g of fiber  
  • 3 oz lean chicken breast = 70% water, 146 cals, 18 g of protein
  • ½ cup black beans = 65% water, 114 cals, 7.5 g of fiber + protein
  • 20 grapes = 85% water, 68 cals, 5 g of fiber, 1 g protein
  • 1 large tomato = 95% water, 33 cals, 2 g of fiber + protein
  • ½ cup brown rice (cooked) = 70% water, 109 cals, 2 g fiber + protein

To lose weight, it’s also important to eat fewer high energy density (HED) foods. HED foods have more calories per bite and way less nutrients. Think: fried foods, full-fat milk, fatty meats, and dry snack foods.

Stay full and satisfied and lose weight? With LEDs in your belly, it’s possible.

Here are more off-the-wall weight loss tricks (that actually work).

Duration: 1:04. Last Updated On: July 13, 2018, 6:11 p.m.
Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: July 13, 2018
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