If you actually need to lose weight, you’d probably love a magic food that you could eat as much as you want without impacting your weight. Real talk: Anyone who claims they’ve discovered that is basically doling out bullshit.
“There is not a lot of evidence for specific foods speeding up your metabolism,” admits Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, PhD, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, department of nutrition. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t foods that can contribute to weight loss as part of a reduced-calorie diet and active lifestyle — after all, a girl’s gotta eat.
Here’s what Zidenberg-Cherr advises: Eat foods that make you feel full and satisfied, and your body won’t want to consume as many calories, so you’ll ultimately shed stubborn pounds. Think of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — particularly ones that taste especially good in summer months, because you’ll want to fill up on them, and those with supposed superpowers, according to science. Here’s what you’ll want to dig into from summer’s bounty:
1. Chilled Soups
Often vegetable-based, chilled soups contain lots of fiber — a macronutrient that’s proven to reduce appetite and total calorie intake, promoting weight loss over time. Because soup is largely made up of calorie-free water, you can consume a large serving — which takes up room in your belly — for a reasonable number of calories. (Depending on the recipe, two cups of tomato-based gazpacho can clock in under 100 calories.)
This summer staple contains the kind of fiber that binds with and carries fat out of your system. But it gets better: Watermelon also contains a high percentage of water, which helps keep you hydrated and thus can increase your overall calorie expenditure, according to several studies. (FWIW, one cup contains fewer calories than any other summer fruit.)
Like many fruits, they’re packed with fiber and other nutrients. But they’re also one of the lower-calorie fruits— and easier to manage than a whole watermelon when you’re food shopping.
4. Summer Squash
Zucchini has its own merits — i.e., it’s low in calories — but its best trick is standing in for higher-calorie pasta. (Just spiralize and sauté, or swap for noodles in a pasta recipe.)
In season starting in midsummer, kale is already every healthy person’s salad staple. But the nutrient-dense green can also add a solid dose of fiber to a Greek yogurt-based smoothie. This combo makes a super-filling and refreshing summer snack that fends off urges to reach for higher-calorie snacks, according to Zidenberg-Cherr.
6. Grilled Vegetables
Crowd your BBQ plate with grilled veggies — they’re lower in calories and fat, and higher in fiber than the second cheeseburger you’d be craving had you not filled up on eggplant, sweet peppers, and onions.
7. Grilled Seafood
“One of the most satisfying ways to eat and control weight is to include lean protein in every meal,” Zidenberg-Cherr says, and research suggests that just digesting protein can burn a bunch of calories. Grilled fish is a perfect source of summertime protein because it’s lighter and leaner than, say, a steak. (FWIW: Richer proteins such as steak can stick around in your stomach forever — which will keep you full, for sure, but won’t necessarily make you feel your best in the heat.)
The main reasons these bad boys taste refreshing AF is their high water content, which helps the body stay hydrated and stops dehydration from masquerading as hunger, according to registered dietitian Jessica Fishman Levinson of Nutritioulicious.
As if you need a reason to eat summer tomatoes (if you’ve tasted them, you’ve tasted heaven), they’re another great source of water you can eat.
Of course summer can’t happen without avocado (LY, guac 😘 !), but it’s the low-sugar fruit’s unique mix of healthy fats and fiber that gives it a special spot on this list. (Remember: Dietary fat slows digestion so you don’t end up eating more calories than your body needs.)