Wouldn’t it be cool to live with a health and nutrition expert? My ex-roomie sure thinks so. Determined not to gain weight even though it’s sweater season, she still asks me every fall which rapid weight loss foods she should make for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Oh, and what about her post-workout shake?
Fortunately for her, there are many crisp-weather foods to enjoy once the leaves turn—and each one blasts fat with the perfect combination of fiber, protein and heart-healthy nutrients. Read on for the nutritionists’ top picks, load up on that pumpkin and get ready to spoon up some seriously delectable dinners. And to live your happiest and healthiest life ever—summer, spring, winter or fall.
1. Pumpkin Seed Pesto
"Blend [pumpkin seeds] with basil, parm and garlic for a twist on a nut-free pesto,” suggests Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh, a leading healthy meal kit delivery service. Or, you can toast them and sprinkle onto salads in lieu of toppings. Lewis also suggests adding them to soups for a dose of added protein.
2. Green Tea
"Just as the cool weather is coming, if you can drink 4-5 cups a day you may actually not only warm up but speed up your metabolism and even burn more calories (and fat, including belly fat!) in your sleep, thanks to its polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG,” explain The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. “It also contains the amino acid theanine that brings on a mental alertness and calmness that helps you to make rational decisions, so you can turn down fatty, caloric foods that you’d normally eat due to stress.” Editors at Eat This, Not That! found this to be true: Test panelists on The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
"The perfect meld of delectably crispy and bright with fresh flavor, this cruciferous veggie is one of our favorite superfoods. “Roast them with spices and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast,” suggests Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. “They’re excellent weight loss foods because they are loaded with fiber and detoxifying glucosinolates.”
4. Beet Hummus
“Blend into hummus to turn it a pretty pink,” suggests Lewis. “When boiling beets, add two tablespoons of lemon juice to help them keep their beautiful vibrant color.” Then, when you add them to your chickpea, tahini and olive oil mixture for hummus, you’ll get a stunning, hot pink shade for your final spread. Also, try sneaking beets into your favorite brownies or pancake recipe. “Your kids will have NO idea they are there!”
5. Dried Plums
Summer may be alllll about those fresh fruits, but autumn is a great time to incorporate dried fruits into your diet. “Dried plums are one of the best natural constipation remedies. A serving of four to five dried plums packs three full grams of fiber,” shares Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of the upcoming book, Body Kindness. “About half of that is insoluble, which helps speed food through the digestive tract. The other half is slow-moving soluble fiber, good for enhancing satiety, lowering cholesterol and regulating blood-sugar levels. They both add up to a very healthy gut.” And trim tummy!
6. Spaghetti Squash
“Just when the cooler weather has you craving warm, unhealthy comfort foods, spaghetti squash is one of the best replacements for spaghetti!” exclaim The Nutrition Twins. “It feels like a hearty meal, but one cup only has about 40 calories—more than 75% fewer calories than a cup of plain pasta.” Even better? It’s a good source of fiber, which means it will keep you fuller for longer and help keep belly bloat at bay.
“They may be small, but these sweet-tasting fruits contain a hefty amount of actinidin, a natural enzyme unique to kiwifruit that aids in digestion by breaking down protein in the body. Kiwifruit also contains prebiotic fiber, which primes the gut for healthy digestion,” says Scritchfield. “Research indicates that a daily serving of green kiwifruit helps increase bowel movements. So, cut in half, scoop with a spoon, and pop into your mouth like nature’s Tums (SunGold kiwis, with a yellow flesh and tropical taste, offer 3 times the vitamin C of oranges and as much potassium as a medium banana).” Did we mention they’re just hankering for a heavenly breakfast bowl?
“Almost all vegetables are good as they help to move gastric irritants out of the stomach that cause stomach distention and bloat, but fennel, which is in season and best in fall and winter helps ease gas and bloating that make the stomach look distended,” say The Nutrition Twins. “It also is a good source of potassium to help restore normal fluid balance and flush bloat.” Try slicing it raw into salads for a unique flavor profile or roasting it with salt and pepper and a squeeze of citrus.
Game, set, ‘shrooms. As in, time to add a hefty helping of this potent and nutrient-packed fungi to your next meal. Fall’s the perfect time (and the start of their peak season) to sautée them into a tomato-based sauce or roast them until crisp to add as a topping to tasty salads brimming with autumnal bounty (think: squash, pumpkin seeds, massaged kale). “Swapping any of the infinite types of hearty, umami-flavored mushrooms for meat will keep your belly flat due to their very low fat and calorie count and super nutrient profile,” explains Hever.
10. Brown Rice
“Healthy eating may be triggering gas overload,” offers Scritchfield. “Rice is the only starchy food that does not cause gas, research says.” To keep things healthy, stick to a fist-size portion with your meals.
11. Winter Squash
Yes, you can get ‘em in the fall (and should!). “Note: These winter squashes have thicker skins so require longer cook times than summer squash,” says Lewis. The outcome? A tantalizing, roasted veggie side that’s worthy of being an entrée (just stuff with beans, veggies and garlic or herbs for a tasty medley of flavors).
“Nature's perfect autumn weight loss food are apples,” says Hever. “Eat them raw, sprinkled with cinnamon, or baked as a seasonal treat. You cannot overeat them, there are myriad varieties as options, and studies show that enjoying an apple before a meal decreases total caloric intake at that meal.”
Bet you can’t have just one. And that’s okay, pop a handful of these nutrition superstars. “Pistachios are the perfect fall-flat belly food (harvested in early September with harvest lasting approximately six weeks and popular right through the holidays) are our favorite because they have a winning combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats to keep you satisfied throughout the day,” say The Nutrition Twins. In addition to keeping vending machine-cravings in check, the fact that you have to de-shell them, also helps you avoid mindless snacking. “Most snacks with a satisfying crunch also cause stomach irritation and bloat from salt, fat and from digestive distress, not pistachios! Also, their fall hues (green and red-purple colors) come from antioxidants!”
14. Dark Leafy Greens
These antioxidant-packed powerhouses are perfect to toss into fall soups, stir fries and more. Some ideas: “Massage your kale to help break down the fibers a bit, then sautée it with garlic and olive oil; Blend spinach in your morning smoothie with bananas for a green power breakfast; add swiss chard to your hearty fall soup recipes — it's texture is able to stand up to the longer cook times.”
15. Hot Peppers
“Hot peppers, one of the greatest weight loss foods of all, are in season in autumn,” offers Hever. “Hot pepper's capsaicin stimulates the metabolism to help you burn more calories.” Crunch-enthusiast?
Summer may be all about those slimming frozen desserts, but with fall in full swing? Enter: kefir. “This is like yogurt, but even better because it has more live active cultures to nourish your GI tract so the good bacteria thrive,” says Scritchfield. Worth noting: “Even though it's dairy, kefir is 99% lactose free because the kefir cultures break down lactose so you don't have to!” Try it with your breakfast or as a satisfying post-workout snack.
17. Baked or Roasted Potatoes
And add to that: yams and sweet potatoes. “They’re very low in fat, high in satiating complex carbohydrates and fiber that helps you stay lean and satisfied with delicious, comforting sweetness,” suggests Hever.
If you’re buying it from a can and not fresh, be sure to opt for the unsweetened variety of one of our favorite high fiber foods. “It makes a great, low-calorie dessert, just add cinnamon,” suggest The Nutrition Twins. “Pumpkin is only 40 calories and 5 grams of fiber per half-cup so it will keep your belly lean and flat while the fiber helps to flush unsightly belly bulges from constipation. You can also use pumpkin to replace oil in brownies and butter in other recipes to keep your recipes low-calorie and delicious and your belly flat.” Pumpkin brownies? Don’t mind if we do.
This citrus fruit is well worth befriending in your autumn routine if you haven’t already. “If you drink alcohol it can cause gas to form in your face and belly. Cut your alcohol in half by swapping a water with lemon between drinks. Try it over ice, sparkling, or hot water with lemon,” suggests Scritchfield. “The vitamin C in lemon helps break down the bloat.” Making fish? “You can also zest [a lemon] and then slice it and add to any fish recipe,” offers Lewis. Green tea with lemon? Even better, you overachiever, you.
“A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that dieters who ate whole grains lost more belly fat than those who ate refined grains,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Not only is quinoa made from the whole grain, but it contains 11 grams of satisfying protein per half cup to prevent crashing and binging. It’s fiber-rich too, [which helps to] flush wastes and toxins from the colon and flatten the belly.”
Oh tomatoes, let us count the ways we love you. “They contain the magical combination of water and potassium, which brings on an instant flat stomach by flushing excess sodium, water and bloat from your body and belly,” explain The Nutrition Twins. “Plus, they’re fiber-packed (goodbye constipation and the puffiness that comes with it!) and super low in calories, so you can eat a lot of them without gaining weight.”