Foods That Fight Fat
It's easy to become frustrated when you're trying to shed the baby weight, but you don't have to slash calories (especially if you're breastfeeding!) or feel like you're starving to earn lasting results. "Losing weight successfully is all about moderation and balance," says Ruth Frechman, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Burbank, California. "You want to have a healthy mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat in your diet to keep you feeling full and satisfied." That said, some foods do a better job of filling you up than others. To keep you from raiding the fridge or swiping snacks from your little ones, include these choices in your diet.
Whole grains Foods like whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, oatmeal and other high-fiber offerings are a smart way to keep you feeling satisfied. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends 25-29 grams of fiber a day for women, many of which can come from whole grains. The soluble fibers found in most grains help regulate blood sugars and slow the absorption of carbohydrates so you feel fuller, longer.
"Healthy" fats Don't think of all fats as a four-letter word. Monounsaturated fats -- found in almonds, peanuts, pecans and other nuts; pumpkin, sesame and other seeds; avocados and olives -- are actually good for you, and your waistline. They not only help supply your body with energy and carry important nutrients, they also fill you up fast. One study found that among people on a low-fat diet, those who had a few ounces of almonds daily, for example, reduced their waistlines by about 6 1/2inches in six months. But remember, since they're calorically dense, these foods can be fattening if eaten in excess. Try measuring out a small 1-ounce bag of almonds (23 pieces have about 160 calories) or a quarter-cup of avocado (58 calories) to keep you satisfied.
Fruits and veggies Low in calories, high in fiber and packed with nutrients, most fruits and vegetables are a definite "do" when you're looking to lose the baby weight. "Most kinds of produce can be very filling, since they contain a lot of water, plus they're full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are important for new moms," says Frechman. Try and include a rainbow of fresh produce every day -- orange carrots, red tomatoes, leafy greens, pink grapefruit, red grapes -- to get all the antioxidants you need.
Vegetarian-friendly protein Stock up on peanut butter -- and eggs, and beans. All are great protein-rich sources, which take longer for your body to digest, and ultimately will keep you more satisfied than carbs alone. One study found women who ate an egg-based breakfast consumed an average of 420 fewer calories over a 36-hour period than those who ate a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories. Another study found subjects who snacked on peanut butter felt fuller and ate less than usual in their regular diet.
Soups Have a cup of soup before your next meal and chances are you'll reduce your total calorie intake. One study from Penn State found that those who had a broth-based soup before a lunch entrée reduced their total calorie intake by 20 percent (compared to those who skipped the appetizer). Just steer clear of cream-based soups, which can significantly boost your overall calorie count.