Diet & Weight Loss
When you’re busy, tired, and hungry, packaged foods can be your worst enemy—or your best friend. It all depends on what makes it into your grocery cart. Here’s how to shop yourself slim.
Packaged food comes clean
Big Foot Productions/Shutterstock
The diet food of the past may have been cardboard-tasting, fake-sugar-laden garbage, but today there are products that can help you slash calories, stave off hunger pangs, and keep portions reasonable without sacrificing taste. (A lot of them will help fill in nutritional gaps in your diet, too). “Even though whole foods are the foundation of a healthy diet, it’s simply not practical to eat a diet that consists entirely of whole foods,” says Karen Ansel, RD, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer. “The good news is that packaged foods have made a lot of progress when it comes to cleaning up their ingredient lists.” We asked pros, including Ansel, for their top picks to help you lose 10 pounds and came up with one killer grocery list. Make sure to stock up on these healthy foods that are way more nutritious than you thought.
Beans are lean and pack a protein punch
Nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read it Before You Eat It—Taking You from Label to Table, calls these superfoods “one of the most underrated in the store.” They’re cheap, shelf stable, versatile, and an amazing source of two key components of any weight loss regimen: lean, plant-based protein and filling fiber. Dried beans take a little more prep work, so she likes canned beans as a pantry staple. They’re pre-cooked, which means they’re ready to eat with a twist of a can opener, and you can even use the protein- and carb-rich liquid they’re stored in, known as aquafaba, as a vegan-friendly egg substitute.
Whole wheat bread could boost metabolism
“Bread is a processed food—we don’t just pick it off the tree in slices,” says nutritionist Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition. But it could be critical for weight loss. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate enough whole grains to meet their daily fiber requirements lost about 100 more calories per day than those who dined on refined grains. The reason: their resting metabolic rate, the normal rate at which their bodies burn calories, was elevated. White breads have more of their nutrients, including fiber, stripped away in processing, but hearty whole grain loaves such as those from Dave’s Killer Bread, Ezekiel 4:9, or Alvarado Street Bakery should be part of your weekly grocery list, says Zeitlin. She also loves sprouted grain breads, which she says “can be easier to digest for anyone with sensitivities or intolerances, while still packing that high-fiber, vitamin B-rich, mineral-dense nutrition punch.” Make sure to eat these healthy foods in moderation.