Not all calories are created equal. Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in your body. They can have vastly different effects on your hunger, hormones and the number of calories you burn.
Vegetables have a lot of fiber and are full of nutrition like essential minerals and vitamins that may help your body improve metabolism and subsequently burn belly fat. Including these in your diet may help you not just in your weight loss journey, but also to live a long and healthy life.
A lot of health freaks swear by chilli peppers for burning fat. Recent studies have demonstrated that the heat generated by consumption of chillies helps utilise more calories and essentially oxidises layers of fat in the body. But, if you don’t like the burn of the chilli peppers, all non-hot varieties of the fruit may also do the trick, as they contain ‘capsaicin,’ which is responsible for burning fat.
“With a bit more fiber than white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a satisfying sweet flavor that plays well with foods like kale and black beans,” says Moore. “My favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is to simply roast them, with the skin on.” After all, the skin is where a good amount of the veggie’s filling fiber sits. You can also cook up sweet potato crust pizza or sweet potato beet hash.
Mushrooms are delicious and loved by vegetarians and non-vegetarians, alike. They have even started making appearance as an ingredient in coffees to increase their nutritional value. Mushrooms have been known to promote weight loss and fat burn by regulating the levels of glucose in the blood. Added bonus? They’re rich in protein and can help you increase your metabolism, resulting in fat loss.
“With almost 9 grams of fiber per cup, green peas can help you meet your fiber goals and feel full with ease,” says Moore. “I usually keep frozen green peas on hand to add bright green color to soups, puree into a pea pesto, or simply enjoy as a side dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.” You can also add the green gems to green pea soup or healthy farro fried rice.
This veggie contains just 27 calories per cup, per the USDA National Nutrient Database. “It provides fiber, which helps to slow digestion and promote a feeling of fullness,” says Devje. “Cauliflower is also fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in sodium.” Whip up some healthy cauliflower rice, cauliflower tacos or carrot cauliflower soup.
Enjoy this winter squash any time you can get your hands on it. “It serves as an ideal low-calorie alternative to conventional spaghetti,” says Devje. A cup of the cooked squash contains just 42 calories, per the USDA Nutrient Database. “It’s also low in fat and provides fiber to help you stay full for longer,” she says. Add the veggie to chicken spaghetti squash, marinara spaghetti squash or chickpea kale curry stuffed spaghetti squash.
“These cruciferous vegetables are loaded with fiber to help you feel full fast and stay satiated for a while,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, a dietitian in Dallas. “They’re very low in calories but have the ability to make you feel less hungry after eating them.” A cup of Brussels sprouts has just 38 calories, per the USDA National Nutrient Database. Whip up grilled Brussels sprouts, Brussels sprouts with grape honey glaze or sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts.
Low in calories and high in fibre, pumpkin is one of the best vegetables to include in your weight loss diet. Whether you like to blanch it and eat it in salads or add pumpkin powder to your smoothies and vegetable drinks, pumpkin can help you reach your body goals quicker.
“This is one of my favorite vegetables for its versatility,” says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, a culinary dietitian in Atlanta. “It’s also a great way to get in some extra fiber. I like to roast broccoli that’s tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and spices. I’ll eat it as a side dish or make it part of a main by adding it to pasta.” Cook up roasted cauliflower and broccoli, a healthy broccoli slaw or beef with broccoli.
“It’s lower in calories, packs a nutritional punch and is versatile to use in all sorts of recipes,” says Devje. Like other leafy greens, spinach is considered a powerhouse vegetable, per a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says it’s strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases — including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancers. Enjoy spinach in a healthy green smoothie, in a lupini bean salad or in a Mason-jar salad.