Whether you’re at a backyard barbecues, a ballgame, on the beach or basking in the sun, a big part of summer fun is the food: Favorites you’ve had since school days that signal the season of sunshine is here, and you’re enjoying it. If you’re on a weight loss program, some of those perfect-for-summer foods can actually help you on your journey. So exactly which are the summer slim-down foods that help you lose weight?
These six options are more than just delicious summer favorites—thanks to the right combinations of nutrients, they’re also foods that help you lose weight :
1. Cool cucumber, local tomatoes and slices of watermelon
What do these foods have in common? Water. Thanks to their high water content, all three of these summer favorites don’t just cool you down, but they’re low in calorie density—which, according to Science Daily. means you can eat a lot of volume without eating a lot of calories. When scientists had obese women in a study add more water-rich foods to their diet plans, they lose 30 percent more weight during the first six months of dieting than those who didn’t focus on adding water-rich foods.
If you’re a watermelon lover, keep track of your portions: Because it’s high on the glycemic index, one cup of the luscious fruit counts as one SmartCarb on Nutrisystem program. Tomatoes and cucumbers, though, are unlimited foods, and count towards your four daily servings of non-starchy vegetables. Pile them on your plate next to your backyard burger or in a fresh, chilly summer salad to help you lose weight.
2. Cool, creamy smoothies and frozen Greek yogurt treats
Greek yogurt has 17 grams of belly-filling, hunger-fighting protein in every 100 calories, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). And it’s also got calcium, which can help more of your weight loss come from fat.
Combine this thicker, creamier yogurt with berries for a cool parfait, or mix them in and freeze in popsicle molds for a fat-fighting fro-yo dessert. Smoothie lover? Double up on the weight loss power of Greek yogurt: Mix in leafy greens with your favorite fruit, Greek yogurt and ice for bonus nutrients and fiber to make your smoothie more filling. The sweetness of the fruit will help mask the flavor of the spinach or other leafy greens, getting you closer to your four daily servings of non-starchy vegetables.
3. Summer berries
Berries are sweeter (and cheaper!) in the summer, and they’re a top choice on our list of foods that help you lose weight. Those fresh little red, blue and black gems are low on the glycemic index, so they won’t spike your blood sugar. That’s thanks to their fiber content: One cup of raspberries, for instance has nine grams of this filling nutrient, meaning the serving can help you feel fuller for longer. That fiber can also help you lose weight around your middle: According to one study published in Science Daily, for every 10 grams of fiber you eat per day, you could have as much as four percent less fat around your belly.
Blueberries may be especially helpful at targeting belly fat. In one 2009 study on rats, the rodents who were given blueberries as part of their weight loss diet lost more belly fat than those losing weight on a berry-free nutrition plan.
4. Tall glasses of iced green tea
Green tea never seems to stop having new benefits: According to nature.com, it’s been shown in studies to help reduce cancer risk, diabetes risk, and even help participants lose weight. In one specific study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, obese participants who drank four cups of green tea per day lost significantly more weight over eight weeks than those who drank four cups of water.
Try having a cold glass as a pre-lunch or -dinner drink for bonus weight loss benefits. A study conducted (published in Obesity) asked one group of adults aged 55-75 to have a 16-ounce beverage before each meal while on a diet, they lost 44 percent more weight over 12 weeks than another group that was on the same diet, but didn’t drink. It’s that simple: A pre-meal drink can make you feel more full, so you’ll eat less and lose more.
5. Hit the trail for a hike with some healthy fat
If summer means a hike with family or friends, give your trail mix a boost: Make sure it includes almonds. The monounsaturated fat in these nuts has been shown to help dieters lose belly fat, according to Science Daily. Since fat can help you feel full faster than carbohydrates, it can also make your trail mix help you lose weight while you trek.
But even if you don’t have a caloric deficit on your hiking day, including almonds can help you shed fat around your middle. In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), of 48 people with elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol, those who ate a daily snack of almonds lost fat in their bellies and legs, even when they didn’t lose weight.
6. Fresh, whole fruit
When you’re looking for foods that help you lose weight, whole foods are always a great choice. When it comes to fruit, the reason is the fiber: Snapping into a medium-sized apple delivers 125 calories, but comes with 4.9 grams of the filling nutrient.