Food is necessary for life. It has become a cause for profit, for socializing, for peace. Food and its availability are crucial to human existence and food for weight loss? Now that has become a deafening chorus worldwide. But the reality remains- which food choices are great for weight loss and which ones are the losers?
We are here with information that’s up to date and localised so that you can confidently walk to the markets and buy that which will trim your waistline
Avocado, the fruit of the Persea Americana tree, stands out in the fruity crowd because of its unique shape and colour even when ripe! This fruit has an impressive list of essential vitamins including Vitamins K, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E. The minerals are folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus.
Avocado contains significant levels of monounsaturated fat and Omega 7 which is believed to hasten weight loss. Other factors in favour of Avocados for weight loss include the fact that they are readily available, cheap, low in sodium, cholesterol free, highly filling and works well with a lot of other foods. Their creamy texture when blended makes it ideal for smoothies, dressings, soups and sandwiches
Greek yoghurt or strained yoghurt contains protein, probiotics vitamin B12, Potassium, Iodine, Calcium. These nutrients are essential armoury in your weight loss quest! The protein helps to repair tissues, probiotics populates your gut with friendly microorganisms ensuring regularity, fewer cravings and leaves you feeling fuller after eating. Iodine powers your thyroid activating your metabolism while calcium and potassium help lower acidity, keeping Blood Pressure in check and helping with bone health. Vitamin B12 superabundant in Greek yoghurt is necessary for healthy brain function and energy
Water, aqua whatever your language is essential to life! Technically water is not food but because of its importance in our lives, I decided to give it a slot here. Our bodies are 60%water. Note that staying hydrated is essential for proper brain, kidney and liver function, bowel movement, skin health, energy generation and yes weight loss.
Drinking water for hydration is not the same as drinking other fluids aka juices, teas, sodas- yes the drinks contain water but they require more water for their digestion. Water intake, especially before meals, flushes out toxins, regulates temperature, reduces food intake and cravings
Again some studies suggest that cold water 30 minutes before meals may further help weight loss as the body will burn more calories to heat the water to normal body temperature.
Leafy green vegetables like pumpkin, carrot, lettuce, African spinach, waterleaf, spinach, atama, ewedu, garden egg, scent leaf, curry leaf, cabbage, beet greens are all weight loss friendly food items. A diet that includes leafy vegetables helps us to maintain our cardiovascular, eye, digestive hair and skin health keeping you in great shape!
Regular consumptions of leafy vegetable arms with your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Leafy greens are easily incorporated into meals like salads, soups, juices, fold-ins, smoothies or stir-fries. Edible leafy green offers a huge variety in taste, texture and use
Thinking of legumes? well, think of Lentils and the different kinds of beans in the markets -black-eyed, brown, black, cowpea, red kidney, green, pigeon, honey, green peas. We even found chickpeas, lentils, navy beans in the supermarkets. Legumes are rich in protein, fibre, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium
Beans are versatile ingredients as you can boil, steam, convert to pudding, use them in soups or eat as is. Legumes are low in fat, have no cholesterol, contain beneficial fats, soluble and insoluble fibre Legumes are cheap, highly filling, have a low glycaemic index and are available all year round.
Grapefruit is a less known member of the citrus family though no less effective at helping with weight management. Grapefruits are usually green or yellow skinned with a yellow or red bitter-sweet flesh. Grapefruit contains fibre, water, copious amounts of vitamin C, bioflavonoids, beta-carotene lycopene and enzymes that accelerate weight loss
The weight loss benefit of grapefruit is tied to the presence of the organic compound Nootkatone which activates the enzyme Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) This enzyme on activation boosts the body’s metabolism encouraging the conversion of stored fats to energy thereby enabling weight loss
Nuts are -well nutty. Different nuts are available for use as snacks, food flavourings and decoration. Nuts excellent for weight loss include walnuts, almond, peanuts, tiger nuts, Bambara groundnuts, Brazil, Macadamia and Pistachios
Nuts are great for weight loss when eaten in moderation. They can be used to enrich breakfast cereals, salads, smoothies and meals. The nutrient profile of nuts makes them a friendly companion to weight loss they contain antioxidants, fibre, folate, Vitamins E, B-Complex, C, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, proteins, carbohydrates. Nuts like walnut also contain other amino acids such as L-arginine, alpha-linoleic acids that work to protect the heart and also reduce LDL and triglycerides
Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. In Nigeria, organic eggs from free-range birds raised in the farmyard setting of our villages are excellent sources of high-quality egg protein free from chemicals, pesticides and drugs
Eggs can come from chicken, turkey, duck, quail and goose. Eggs are versatile menu items as they can be used in countless dishes, are cheap and readily available. Eggs are great for weight loss as they supply you with Vitamins B2, D, B6, B12, A, E, K and minerals like Selenium, Zinc, Iron and Copper, Lecithin
Need I say more? —an egg a day keeps them flab away!
YAM AND COCOYAM
Root tubers like yam, potatoes, sweet potatoes have finally made it to the renowned list of foods for weight loss. Yams have a glycaemic index of 54. A 2013 animal study in the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research noted that intake of yam extracts led to reduced food intake, blood glucose levels and hence body weight. Yam is a good source of fibre, vitamin C, B, manganese and of course carbohydrates
Cocoyam a tropical aroid, can be prepared as porridge, or boiled plain and eaten with sauce, stew or vegetables. Cocoyam is ideal for weight loss as it contains an impressive amount of fibre, complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene, vitamins A, B, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, potassium and magnesium are also present Cocoyam due to its fibre and complex carbs keep you full for longer thereby curbing cravings. A word of caution though, ask for the quick cooking edible cocoyam at the markets as the other types require longer cooking times or even overnight soaking to remove the harmful oxalates it contains
Sweet potatoes are another weight loss friendly root tuber. They are available as red-skinned, white skinned or dark purple variety. They are sweet to the taste, high in fibre and lends itself to boiling, roasting, frying, baking or mashing. Sweet potatoes are highly filling, available throughout the year, cheap and are a quick fill-in for those days you are undecided about what to eat
Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, C, Iron, fibre, protein, antioxidants, carotenoids. Sweet potatoes are a source of plant-based protein and together with its high fibre content keeps you fuller for longer making it ideal for weight loss. A word of caution-the glycaemic Index of potatoes is affected by the method of cooking! When sweet potatoes are baked/fried the glycaemic index notches up to 94 when compared to a GI of 44 on boiling!
Pretty yellow/green lemons are the dieters best friend. Lemon juice is a digestive and detoxifying agent cleansing the blood and liver. Lemon juice is known to increase metabolic rate making it super ideal for weight loss. The nutritional benefits of lemon include a high dose of vitamin C and water. Lemons contain Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, Water, Fibre and Citric Acid. They also help with cravings
Meat both white and red has taken so much bad flak that I shouldn’t be writing about it. Red meat aka beef, lamb, goat meat and a host of protein from game has gotten so demonized as being unhealthy that a lot of people side-line it at meals (me included until recently!)
That said, red beef still remains a star among proteins for weight loss. In Nigeria, fortunately, our beef is grass fed. Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner (234 calories,7g of fat), contains more Omega-3 fatty acids and has limited exposure to harmful chemicals which is a plus since the body uses fat as its storage for harmful substances
Turkey and chicken deserve a mention due to their high protein content of about 25g (for an 85g serving of cooked turkey) Turkey is rich in DHA Omega 3 acids. The protein from meat is essential for cell renewal.
Oranges are amazingly versatile fruits. From usage in beauty and cosmetics, diet, cooking, brewing, sports it is the most popular citrus fruit. This fruit is much loved because of its full and sweet flavour.
Oranges are ideal for weight loss especially when eaten with other foods. Its high water and fibre content mean that it leaves you feeling full and the fibre cleans the gut while its high vitamin C content works on the skin and hair leaving you radiant. Oranges contain carbohydrates, fibre, potassium, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A and C.
Whole grains, that is, unprocessed grains have a lot to offer weight loss candidates in terms of satiety, fibre and nutrients. Grains like brown rice (ofada rice), whole oats, guinea corn, millet, wheat, popcorn, Acha are great for weight loss. Whole grains are cereals with all the 3 parts intact –bran, germ and endosperm. What we are looking for here is grains as harvested in the fields as against grains that have been processed into flour
Grinding of grains into flour creates a calorie dense product that weight for weight on consumption gives more calories. And you are not guaranteed feeling full afterwards. So what to do?
As much as possible, eat more of cooked unprocessed grains as the cooking enables the grains to absorb water making them denser thereby more filling. The dry processed grains are more compact, less filling, hence you eat more! Whole grains contain B vitamin B iron, manganese, selenium, fibre.
Plantains are tropical foods high in resistant starch, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, and B6. They are a cheap non-seasonal crop of the same family with bananas. Plantains are highly filling and are a staple in the Niger Delta. Most recipes for plantain either call for roasting or boiling the plantain and then serving with sauce. A particularly popular recipe is roasted plantain with fish and pepper sauce, yummy. But as the weight conscious trooper that you are, add a generous helping of fresh leafy vegetable. Absolutely tasty Genius!
Their fibre content makes them ideal for fullness, regularity and slow digestion. A medium sized plantain has 57g of carbohydrates and 4gof fibre.
Salads for weight loss is ideal. I mean you are chomping on the good-for-you veggies in a bid to shed the flab accumulated over time. Salads are healthy with a capital H, nutrient full, easy to toss up and versatile in all respects.
You may eat plenty of good salad and still pack on the fat rather than lose it! This is due to the fat friendly and calorie dense ingredients included in the salad. The worst culprits here are the dressings. The idea here is to prep a salad that will be fresh, filling, flavourful, crunchy and yes tasty. As much as possible, use fresh ingredients!
Hot Peppers-Chili, Cayenne, Scotch bonnet, Cameroun, Danjarawa are powerful weight loss proponents. They come in a variety of shapes and colours and add crunch, flavour and kick to any dish. Red peppers contain vitamins A, C, K, carotenoids and a substance called capsaicin known to reduce appetite, create feelings of fullness and increase fat burning.
Sweet peppers on the hand have no capsaicin hence no heat but are great for weight loss. Sweet peppers refer to bell peppers- red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers contain over 30 different types of carotenoids. They also contain Vitamin B6, K, Thiamine, Niacin, Folate and fibre
Using peppers along with a healthy plant-based diet gives better results for weight loss
Green tea, a popular beverage for weight loss is made from dried leaves of the tea plant the Camellia Sinensis. Green tea’s ability to burn fat is attributed to its caffeine and antioxidant content. Caffeine is known to help burn fat and improve exercise performance. The antioxidant in green tea, catechins, is the weight loss star. Green tea is a natural diuretic, boosts metabolism, helps with loss of visceral fat (belly fat) and improves your complexion.
Fish, fish and more fish’! exclaimed my nephew Gozie during a visit to the market on a Friday evening. He just couldn’t believe the number and variety of fish on display! Fish is healthy, cheap, works well with many foods and are reasonably available year round.
Recipes for fish abound in many cultures. Fish contains; lean protein, omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, selenium, iodine and zinc. Boiling, roasting and steaming
The fish best for weight loss is oily fish. These are so named because of the abundant healthy oils in their liver, gut and underbelly. Fish categorised as oily include- salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines. And in our local parlance that will mean Shiny, Titus, Bonga .