From Lean Protein to Kale: What Are the Best Weight Loss Foods?

Popular diets are popular because they work, even if only for a short time. And they work because they follow the number one rule to weight loss: they restrict calories in some way. That’s right, every single diet out there uses some form of calorie control, typically by cutting out food groups or certain items that add empty calories to the diet – like decreasing portion sizes, or cutting out sugar, refined grains, and processed foods. Which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that no matter what diet you’re on, you will only lose weight if you eat fewer calories than you burn.

But the calorie rule for weight loss doesn’t mean the type of food you choose isn’t important. Your body also needs good nutrition to thrive and live a long healthy life. That’s why the best diets cut calories and focus on quality, emphasizing more whole foods and good nutrition.

Top Foods to Eat to Lose Weight

Fact: Nobody has ever gotten fat from eating one donut and nobody has ever gotten a six pack from eating one salad.

All foods, even the highest calorie junk foods, can fit into a healthy weight loss diet. And while you could theoretically lose weight eating unhealthy foods, having a little more balance and good nutrition in your diet is going to do a little more than just help you shed pounds. Nutritious foods support better moods, energy levels, appetite control and when coupled with the right fitness routine can support a better overall body composition – more lean mass and less body fat.

To set yourself up for diet victory, regardless of the type of meal plan you are on, here are some of the top things to look for in your weight loss food choices.

Whole Foods

Clean eating stems from the mentality of eating less processed ingredients and more whole foods. Or in other words, eating more real food.

One of the top things that you can do for your health, is to eat real food. This is the stuff we have been eating for hundreds of years and are biologically designed to consume. Real food is any natural, whole food with ingredients you recognize. If your Great Great Grandparents were here today, would they be able to readily identify the food you are eating? Can you picture these ingredients in your head and visualize you making it at home? Did it grow like that? How much processing and manipulation took place to get the food to where it is now?

Real foods provide real nutrition that keeps our bodies running like a well-oiled machine. Whereas highly processed foods, high in sugar, sodium and trans fats, might play a role in increased inflammation and counteract weight loss efforts (2). One study showed your body may even burn twice as many calories digesting less processed foods. And growing research continues to suggest that eating a diet consisting of mostly whole foods is associated with more weight loss (3,4,5). Look for options with ingredients you can pronounce and recognize, or choose more fresh options that don’t even need an ingredients label.

Real Foods Include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean meats and Seafood
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans and Lentils

The best real food options include whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.

Nutrient Dense Foods

The easiest way to decrease your calories and increase your nutrition intake is by choosing more nutrient dense foods. These are the foods that have the most nutrition per calorie, compared to other options that may be higher in empty calories, added fat and sugar.

Many of the most nutritious low-calorie foods you can find tend to be non-starchy vegetables. This includes nearly all veggies, except peas, corn, potatoes, and starchy squash – that tend to be a little higher in carbs and calories. While all vegetables are an excellent choice for a healthy diet, choosing non-starchy ones more often is an easy way to cut calories without having to sacrifice portion control. And research suggests that eating more veggies can help control appetite and improve mood, which can definitely make cutting calories a little easier (6,7)!

The best nutrient dense foods include:

  • Bright colored fruits and veggies
    • Dark leafy greens
    • Red and orange veggies
    • Dark colored berries
  • Lean proteins
    • Seafood
    • Non-fat dairy
    • Poultry
    • Grass-fed meats
  • High Fiber Grains and Starches
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Ancient Grains
    • Sprouted Grain Breads

Aim to stack half of your plate or meals with non-starchy veggies to maximize your nutrition intake and give your diet a healthy boost.

Other great sources of nutrient-dense foods include whole grains, fruits, and lean proteins. Did you know that melon and strawberries are the lowest calories and carb fruits you can choose?

High Fiber Foods

Fiber is a great, calorie-free way to control appetite and promote health (8). There are two types of fiber found in plant foods – soluble and insoluble, and both hold unique benefits.

Although technically a carb, insoluble fiber is not easily absorbed by the body. Meaning you don’t get calories from insoluble fiber the same way you do other carbohydrates. And because what goes in, must come out, it still needs to be pushed through your system – which is exactly how this type of fiber help keeps things moving along.

Soluble fiber, on the other hand, can be dissolved in water to form a gel-like substance – which is what happens in your stomach when you eat this type of fiber. Water gets drawn into your gut and allows the fiber to expand, helping you feel more full. This process is also thought to help draw out cholesterol from the body providing heart health benefits to you (9)!

It’s important to note that added fiber may not provide the same benefits as naturally occurring fiber from whole foods. No to mention naturally occurring fiber tends to be found in naturally nutritious plant sources that contain other important nutrients, whereas added fiber can be added to anything, even a candy bar!

Some of the best high fiber foods include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels
  • Cabbage
  • Artichoke
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Peaches and Nectarines
  • Cherries and Plums
  • Berries
  • Whole Grains
  • Sprouted Grains
  • Almonds
  • Avocado

The top sources of fiber in the diet are plant based foods, like fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Lean Protein

Research has linked high protein diets to better appetite control and some research even suggests that high protein diets may help you lose more weight (10,11,12). In addition, your burn slightly more calories digesting protein compared to fat and carbs, because of something called the thermic effect of food (TEF) – essentially you burn calories digesting food to get more calories.

But not all proteins are created equal. When looking at animal sources like meat, dairy, and fish, leaner options tend to provide excellent nutrition for less fat and calories, making them a great choice for an energy-controlled diet. The exception is fatty fish and eggs whose fat content also provides key nutrients like omega-3s and vitamin D.

Eat more lean proteins like:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • White Fish
  • Shrimp
  • Egg Whites
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Non-fat dairy
  • Tofu
  • Edamame

Look to grass-fed meats, pasture raised poultry and eggs, wild caught fish and low fat dairy for some of the best waist friendly protein choices to include.

When it comes to vegan or vegetarian options, stock up on lower fat options like beans, tofu, whole grains and lentils, over large portions of nuts and seeds.

Worst Foods for Weight Loss

It’s not just what you eat to lose weight, but also what you are not eating. Are you making your calories count with quality, nutrient-dense foods that can promote more weight loss? Or are you only focusing on the amount you are eating?

Eliminating the right foods from your diet, like added sugar and empty calories, can make cutting your intake easier and allow you to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time.

How Many Grams of Sugar Per Day Should You Eat?

Added sugar tops the list for one of the most impactful foods to avoid when trying to shed pounds. Not only are there over 50 different names for added sugar on the ingredients label, but it is found on just about every packaged food you can imagine – even bread and low fat salad dressings can be full of sugar.

The US Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping added sugar intake below 10 percent of total calories consumed and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25g of added sugar per day.

Eating more whole, real foods is one way to cut down on added sugar. One study suggests that more than half of the average U.S. diet consists of ultra-processed foods, and that these foods account for over 90% of added sugar intake (13). You can avoid processed foods all together, or learn to check the ingredients labels.

What is Processed Food?

While all foods are processed to some degree, some foods are more heavily processed than others. What is commonly considered a processed food, is any food that has gone through one or more changes in form from how it is found in nature – by either cooking, genetically altering, or adding multiple ingredients, etc. Another common way to determine how processed a food is, is by checking the ingredients label and looking for a shorter list full of more ingredients you recognize as food, and less added sugar, salts and artificial ingredients and preservatives.

Some studies suggest that decreasing your intake of heavily processed may be more beneficial for weight management. With one study reporting your body may even burn twice as many calories digesting less processed foods (14). And growing research continues to suggest that eating a diet consisting of mostly whole foods is associated with more weight loss (15,16).

Instead of choosing more processed foods, look for “real foods”. This is the stuff we have been eating for hundreds of years and are biologically designed to consume. Real food is any natural, whole food with ingredients you recognize. If your Great Great Grandparents were here today, would they be able to readily identify the food you are eating? Can you picture these ingredients in your head and visualize you making it at home? Did it grow like that? How much processing and manipulation took place to get the food to where it is now?

Real foods provide real nutrition that keep our bodies running like a well oiled machine. Whereas highly processed foods, high in sugar, sodium and trans fats, might play a role in increased inflammation and counteract weight loss efforts (17).

What are Empty Calories?

Empty calorie foods are simply options that contain little to no nutritional value per calorie, essentially the opposite of nutrient dense foods. Identifying and eliminating empty calories from your diet is a great approach to weight control because you are creating a calorie deficit without decreasing your overall nutrient intake significantly.

Most empty calories will come from refined grains, foods high in added sugar, processed foods, higher fat foods and desserts. Here are some easy examples of empty calories you may want to limit your intake of for faster weight loss:

  1. Soda and sugar sweetened beverages
  2. Candy
  3. Fried foods
  4. High sugar, high calorie desserts
  5. Pastries
  6. Pretzels and potato chips
  7. High fat meat like sausage and bacon
  8. Oils and butter

Bottom Line

There’s not one single food I would say you have to have in your diet to lose weight or any food that you shouldn’t have either. There aren’t any foods that are going to help speed up your metabolism or radically change your results, and the only way to lose weight no matter what you are eating is to cut calories.

With that, the best foods for weight loss also tend to be the most nutritious, allowing you to cut calories and shed pounds without sacrificing your health. But no matter what, you always want to choose foods you enjoy eating, otherwise, it’s going to make sticking to your eating plan pretty difficult. And once you find the foods that work for you, learning how to portion and track your intake will take you even further.

Looking for a quick and easy solution to nutritious food, that is delicious and will keep your diet on track? Check out our Trifecta meal plans.

I read an article yesterday that said eating kale would “make you fat.”

Yes, kale. The same kale that has a whopping 30 calories per cup, is packed with fiber, antioxidants, and calcium, and could help fight inflammation and provide cardiovascular support.

Damn you, kale, for being so unhealthy.

This is the Internet, and at this point I’m supposed to link to the anti-kale article. But I don’t want to send any traffic to that site because that would only perpetuate the damage that’s been done. This isn’t about whether kale is healthy or not (it is), this is about a bigger issue and one that is slowly but surely tearing at the seams of health content.

So I’m drawing the line and doing what I rarely do: criticizing the specific work of another journalist. And it won’t be pretty or nice.

The author argues that kale makes the so-called fat list because,

“Kale is barely edible until it’s sprinkled with raisins and drizzled with salad dressing.”

By that reasoning, technically every food will make you fat and we just stop eating. If we are to judge foods based on how we can manipulate them, we’ve created a trapdoor that will make you second guess every single thing you put in your mouth and dump you in a dietary dungeon of doubt.

That’s not only dumb. It’s dangerous.

Kale Is Not the Problem

If kale is off limits, where are we to draw the line?

That’s the main problem with this article, which in total listed 11 foods, including:

  • Hummus
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Green juice
  • Coconut water
  • Gluten-free snacks
  • Supergrains
  • Raw foods

I don’t know about you, but I eat all of these foods frequently and for a reason: they are good for you. The problem is the article leverages “science” and pull-quotes in a misleading context that makes these foods seem like they might be bad.

They are not.

If we are to follow the advice of this article, we should now avoid fruits, vegetables, nuts, gluten-free foods, veggie juice, grains, and anything that isn’t cooked.

As the author is quick to assert, “Foods that pack nutritional benefits may also pack on the pounds.”

Really?

Guess what? It’s not just foods with “nutritional benefits.” Overeating anything will pack on pounds. So why steer people away from foods that have so many health benefits?

I don’t know when it happened, but we’ve made eating nearly impossible and are creating eating disorders in people who have orderly eating habits.

On one side we have people saying, “Don’t eat these healthy foods because they have too many calories and they’ll make you fat.”

On the other side, we have people saying, “Avoid these foods and eat as much of you want from the ‘approved’ list and you’ll be just fine.”

Both arguments are flawed.

This article is everything that is wrong with the health and fitness industry. That’s why I need to call out the offenders for allowing this crap to be published. A line must be drawn.

This wasn’t some blog. It was a major magazine doing an even more major disservice. And they should be embarrassed for publishing this food-shaming post. Here’s why: Writing health content comes with a social responsibility. People will read this and instead of consulting with a nutritionist or doctor, they’ll treat it as gospel. Maybe not everyone, but enough people that it will impact eating behaviors in a very dangerous way.

So if you’re unwilling to respect and acknowledge that responsibility then you just shouldn’t be creating health content. You want to know why people are frustrated by diets and workouts?

Because of advice (like what’s found in the kale article) that’s confusing, damaging, and creates a bad relationship with food.

Most people don’t have a background in fitness or nutrition. They read lists like the one in the kale article and trust the “reputable” sources.

I have no doubt that the editors of the article would defend their decision by saying readers should “read between the lines” and understand context. The only line I read was, “these 11 foods will make you fat.”

Are you trying to help people or just earn more page views?

I hope the traffic was worth it because each click of this page led to another person frustrated and confused about what they are supposed to eat and what to believe.

So instead of continuing to castigate the stupidity, let’s do something about it and provide diet advice that will empower rather than terrify and confuse.

Use Knowledge, Not Fear

The health and fitness industry needs to take a stand. It needs to work harder to bridge the gap between science and mainstream media. We need to do a better job of providing information people can use, trust, and understand. And we need to stop sending so many mixed messages.

In the world of health and fitness, using “absolutes” is absolutely stupid.

So let’s start with a simple concept that should help: We need to stop trying to blame one food group for making people fat or causing obesity. That’s not why people are gaining weight. And if you take it one step farther, there really isn’t much of a debate of good and bad foods.

Most people actually know what is bad for them.

Many lifestyle and behavioral issues contribute to the battle between weight gain and loss. We eat too much food. Food marketers make it hard to know what good for us. And most of us don’t understand the deep psychological reasons why we struggle to eat better and for good reason; it’s highly personalized. Combine that with lots of sitting, tons of daily stress, less exercise, and declining sleep, and you have everything needed for a society battling weight gain.

Yes, some foods are more likely to be unhealthy and be bad for any type of weight loss program. And yes, some people need to be wary of what they eat less so because of the “dangers” of the foods and more so because of psychological dependencies and triggers of how eating of food (think desserts) might trigger an uncontrollable urge to eat much more of those foods.

But to label a food as bad or fattening is more of a disservice than help.

There’s a time and place for dessert, gluten, grains, packaged foods (think yogurt or protein powder, for example), and whatever else might be on the next numbered-item danger food list.

What’s most important is that the majority of your diet is based on whole food sources: fruits, vegetables, nut, legumes, animal proteins, and yes, even starches and grains (I eat bread and don’t think most have any reason to avoid it…of course, assuming no sensitivity or allergy.)

If 80 to 90 percent of your daily intake (total amount of calories consumed) was filled with those foods, then the remainder could be left for what you wanted.

I realize that doesn’t leave a ton of room to splurge each day. But let’s put it this way: you could eat a small dessert every single day. This isn’t a strategy that will work for everyone because they can’t limit it to a just one dessert, but that fact remains that if only 10 to 20 percent came from those bad foods, you could still lose weight. I’ve seen it happen with literally thousands of people.

The Only Diet Advice You Really Need

Your job is less about trying to remove every potentially dangerous food, and more about understanding your own body, what works for you, what foods trigger eating issues, and what food sensitivities you may have.

If you’re worried that you’re sensitive to gluten, get tested and know for sure. The same can be said for lactose, nuts, and any other sensitivity- or allergen-containing food.

If you don’t like grains or feel like crap when you eat them, then go ahead and avoid. But there are mountains of research that show they’re not inherently bad, so we shouldn’t apply a person preference to a global standard. I don’t care how many books are written: grains are not bad. And they don’t make everyone fat. That’s not an opinion; it’s scientific fact.

The same can be said for the calorie equation. Yes, other factors can impact how your body processes calories, but saying calories don’t matter is like saying the earth is flat. We have too much science that says otherwise.

Instead of fighting over who is right, the world of health and fitness needs to stand together and create clarity. Offer a buffet of options rather than casting one diet approach as night and the other as day. Extremist suggestions are not the long-term solution for the vast majority of people.

Stop presenting “magic solutions” and promises of a removal mentality, and start addressing the lifestyle factors that makes it hard to lose fat. Spend less time making up solutions, and more time making weight gain and weight loss easier to understand.

Right now people are frustrated because they are confused.

And that confusion is creating a lack of control and a universe of doubt, disbelief, and discouragement.

We are getting fatter not because of what we don’t know but, instead, because of what we think we know. Too many messages. Too many competing ideas. Too much inconsistency and extremes.

Want to know what really makes people fat? Misinformation.

Want to put someone on a diet? Start with news outlets and journalists that are feeding you a daily dose of bad information that is contributing to the problem.

It’s not the carbs, the sugar, the high fructose corn syrup, gluten, fat, or any other singular nutrient that is fueling the obesity crisis.

It’s the messages and information we share that ultimately leaves most people searching for magic bullet solutions that won’t work in the long run.

Simplify the message. Cut back on the serving sizes of misinformation, and then we’ll see a shift that starts with a healthier mind and converts to a healthier body.

Green smoothies are an ideal fat burning food as they are nutrient-rich, loaded with fiber and low in fat. However, there is an art to making a weight loss smoothie.

These seven tips will help you create the perfect weight loss shake.

Tip #1: Start with water or plant milks. Water or plant milks like almond, coconut, hemp and cashew milk are low in fat and calories. Almond milk helps give your weight loss green smoothie a creamy texture, while making it more filling. It’s also very easy to make.

While it might be tempting to use milk or yogurt, I don’t recommend using these foods in green smoothies. Milk and yogurt add unnecessary fat and calories and have other possible negative health consequences that could undermine your health and weight loss goals.

If you are concerned about calcium, find out how you make your green smoothies have more calcium than a glass of milk.

Tip #2: Add a pinch of healthy fat. Add 1/4 of an avocado, or a tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseed, or some fresh young coconut to give your smoothie some heart healthy fats. Nut milks are good, too!

Fat doesn’t make you fat. Healthy, plant-based fats are good for you and can help you lose weight.

Keep the fat content low, however, as too much fat and fruit in the same green smoothie might cause gas and bloating. Fat is also a dense source of calories. While calories from whole foods are better for you, too many calories from any source may sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Tip #3: Sweeten it with fruit. Don’t be afraid to use bananas, mangoes, grapes, and other sweet fruit in a weight loss green smoothie. These fruits will sweeten your smoothies without making you fat. The naturally-occurring sugars found in fruits do not cause weight gain.

Skip the honey, agave, and maple syrup. Any concentrated sugars will turn a healthy, weight loss smoothie into a sugar bomb. Refined and concentrated, processed sugar will hinder your ability to lose weight.

If you absolutely must add a sweetener to your smoothie, try dates. However, wean yourself off of them as soon as you can since dates are a dried food with concentrated sugars.

Tip #4: Use a quality protein powder. Feel free to use a quality, plant-based protein powder in your green smoothies. Protein powder boosts the protein content, and it helps you feel full and satisfied. I use NutriBiotic vegan rice protein powder

in my green smoothies.

You can also increase the protein content of your green smoothies naturally using chia seeds and goji berries, as well as higher protein greens like kale and dandelion greens.

Tip #5: Make it a meal. I have found it very effective to use green smoothies as a meal replacement. Replacing one meal each day with a smoothie is an easy way to lower daily calorie intake. It also increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables while boosting your water and fiber intake – all great things for weight loss.

Most recipes that I post on my website have around 350 calories. This is NOT a lot of calories for a weight loss meal. My green smoothie meals fill me up without making me hungry (and susceptible to cravings) an hour later.

By the way, the best time to have a weight loss green smoothie is in the morning. Have it for breakfast and you’re less likely to crave unhealthy foods at lunch.

Tip #6: Stick with fresh, whole foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables and dark leafy greens are packed full of fiber, naturally water rich, and full of micronutrients that boost your metabolism.

If you are looking to save money, buy frozen fruits or buy fresh in bulk and freeze for later use. Avoid canned fruit as it is often soaked in syrup and nutritionally inferior to fresh fruit.

Tip #7: Don’t rely only on green smoothies for weight loss. Green smoothies can certainly help you lose weight, but a long-term change in diet and lifestyle will provide long term results.

While green smoothies were instrumental in my 40-pound weight loss, I could not have gained all of the health benefits and reached my weight loss goal without also cleaning up other areas of my diet.

I have found that green smoothies work best when they are part of a balanced, whole foods diet. (Read more about what I eat when I’m not drinking green smoothies.)

Try A Green Smoothie-Boosted Meal Plan

Davy and I have dedicated our lives to helping people just like you improve your diet so that you can boost energy, self-confidence, and focus while you go after your big life goals. Following a step-by-step plan and putting a support system into place will help you reach your ideal weight faster and with a greater chance of success.

Cleansing with green smoothies and whole-foods will supercharge your body and facilitate weight loss so you can have lasting results. Effectively lose weight (and bust through a plateau), increase energy, sleep better, improve digestion, decrease bloating, crave healthy foods, and clear away the mental fog.

If you are ready to embrace your true potential without struggle, anxiety, or feeling deprived then check out our Reset 28 cleanse!

Plant-based whole foods are naturally lower in calories and higher in fiber. That means no more counting calories, logging food into your phone or computer every time you take a bite!

Find out how I lost 40 pounds with green smoothies and delicious, simple meals.

The Best Weight Loss Smoothie Foods

All fruits and vegetables are great for weight loss, but there are a few that stand out in the crowd. Foods that are low in calories and high in fiber are going make weight loss more effective.

Some of the best ingredients to add to your weight loss green smoothies are grapefruit, pumpkin, kale, apples (with skin), blueberries, pomegranates, chia seeds, raspberries, pears (with skin), strawberries, bananas, oranges, broccoli, celery, cucumber, carrots and all leafy greens.

Even raw oats can provide a filing texture to a green smoothie while adding protein, healthy fat and fiber.

Weight Loss Smoothie Ratio

A good ratio of fruits to greens that I recommend for weight loss smoothies is this: 2 pieces of fruit (a banana and apple, for example) to 2 or 3 cups (packed) or handfuls of leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards) and 8 ounces of water or homemade nut milk.

Add either a tablespoon of chia seeds (soaked in water for 5 minutes), 1/4 avocado, or 1/4 cup of raw oats. Finish with a scoop of protein powder, if desired.

If you like this, please share!

New Measured Weight for One Cup Raw Kale Reduces Nutrient Intake of Individuals Following the Wahls™ Diet☆

Kale is a nutrient-dense, dark-green leafy vegetable often eaten raw in salads or added to smoothies. The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 26 reports the weight for one cup raw, chopped kale as 67 grams, among the highest for raw leafy vegetables. Objectives: Measure the weight of one cup moderately packed raw kale with stems and tough midrib parts removed and evaluate the impact of the new cup weight on nutrient intake of individuals consumingraw kale. Methods: Six staff members measured curly and lacinato kale using standard procedures and 14 study participantsconsuming 4-6 cups raw leafy vegetables/day measured one cup curly kale in their usual manner. Twenty-seven dietary recalls obtained from participants following the Wahls™ diet were entered intothe Nutrition Data System for Research and then recalculated using staff-measured curly kale cup weight. Results: Mean(SE) staff cup weight for lacinato kale was significantly higher than curly kale . Percent refuse was also higher for lacinato kale . Mean(SD) weight of moderately packed participant-measured cups was similar to staff cup weightbutfirmly packed participant cupsweighed more . Intake of vitamins K, C, A, manganese, copper, and folatewere significantly lower for diets calculated with the staff cup weight (p<0.0001). Conclusions: The new measured cup weight of raw kale is lower than previously reportedand reduces nutrient levels in diets containing raw kale. Verification of cup weights for other raw leafy vegetables may be warranted.

What are the health benefits of kale?

Share on PinterestConsuming kale may help boost digestive health, among other benefits.

Kale contains fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamins C and K, iron, and a wide range of other nutrients that can help prevent various health problems.

Antioxidants help the body remove unwanted toxins that result from natural processes and environmental pressures.

These toxins, known as free radicals, are unstable molecules. If too many build up in the body, they can lead to cell damage. This may result in health problems such as inflammation and diseases. Experts believe that free radicals may play a role in the development of cancer, for example.

Learn more here about antioxidant foods.

Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association recommend consuming foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. There is evidence that some of these may offer protection against diabetes.

Fiber: A 2018 study concluded that people who consume the highest amounts of dietary fiber appear to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consuming dietary fiber might also lower blood glucose levels, the authors note.

Antioxidants: Authors of a 2012 article note that high blood sugar levels can trigger the production of free radicals. They note that antioxidants, such as vitamin C and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can help reduce complications that may occur with diabetes. Both of these antioxidants are present in kale.

Which foods can help stabilize blood sugar levels?

Heart disease

Various nutrients in kale may support heart health.

Potassium: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend increasing the intake of potassium while reducing the consumption of added salt, or sodium. This, say the AHA, can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. A cup of cooked kale provides 3.6% of an adult’s daily needs for potassium.

Fiber: A Cochrane review from 2016 found a link between consuming fiber and a lower blood lipid (fat) levels and blood pressure. People who consumed more fiber were more likely to have lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.

People need both soluble and insoluble fiber. Learn more here about both types.

Cancer

Chlorophyll: Kale and other green vegetables that contain chlorophyll can help prevent the body from absorbing heterocyclic amines. These chemicals occur when people grill animal-derived foods at a high temperature. Experts have linked them with cancer.

The human body cannot absorb much chlorophyll, but chlorophyll binds to these carcinogens and prevents the body from absorbing them. In this way, kale may limit the risk of cancer, and pairing a chargrilled steak with green vegetables may help reduce the negative impact.

Antioxidants: The vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium, and other antioxidants in kale may help prevent cancer. Studies have not found that supplements have the same effect, but people who have a high intake of fruits and vegetables appear to have a lower risk of developing various cancers. This may be due to the antioxidants these foods contain.

Fiber: A high consumption of fiber may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study from 2015.

How does a person’s diet affect their cancer risk? Find out here.

Bone health

Calcium and phosphorus are crucial for healthy bone formation.

Some research has suggested that a high intake of vitamin K may help reduce the risk of bone fractures.

A cup of cooked kale provides almost five times an adult’s daily need for vitamin K, around 15–18% of their calcium need, and about 7% of the daily phosphorus requirement.

Get some more tips on increasing bone density.

Digestion

Kale is high in fiber and water, both of which help prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.

Which foods can boost digestion?

Skin and hair

Kale is a good source of beta-carotene, the carotenoid that the body converts into vitamin A as it needs it.

Beta-carotene and vitamin A are necessary for the growth and maintenance of all body tissues, including the skin and hair.

The body uses vitamin C to build and maintain collagen, a protein that provides structure for skin, hair, and bones. Vitamin C is also present in kale.

A cup of cooked kale provides at least 20% of a person’s daily need for vitamin A and over 23% of the daily requirement for vitamin C.

Which other foods can boost hair growth?

Eye health

Kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin, an antioxidant combination that may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc also play a role in eye health. All of these are present in kale.

For more tips on what to eat for eye health, click here.

6 Things You Don’t Know About Kale

Our love of kale is no secret. But even though it’s the hottest vegetable on the scene, many of its more healthful attributes remain a mystery to the general public.

Here are five backed-up-by data reasons why your main green squeeze could (and should) be here to stay-and one important fact to remember:

1. It has more vitamin C than an orange. One cup of chopped kale has 134 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, while a medium orange fruit has 113 percent of the daily C requirement. That’s particularly noteworthy because a cup of kale weighs just 67 grams, while a medium orange weighs 131 grams. In other words? Gram for gram, kale has more than twice the vitamin C as an orange.

RELATED: The Best-Tasting Green Juices

2. It’s…kind of fatty (in a good way!). We don’t typically think of our greens as sources of even healthful fats. But kale is actually a great source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain health, reduces Type 2 diabetes risk, and boots heart health as well. Each cup has 121mg of ALA, according to Drew Ramsey’s book 50 Shades of Kale.

3. It might be the queen of vitamin A. Kale has 133 percent of a person’s daily vitamin A requirement-more than any other leafy green.

4. Kale even beats milk in the calcium department. It’s worth noting that kale has 150mg of calcium per 100 grams, while milk has 125mg.

5. It’s better with a friend. Kale has plenty of phytonutrients, such as quercetin, which helps combat inflammation and prevent arterial plaque formation, and sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting compound. But many of its top health-promoting compounds are rendered more effective when you eat the stuff in combination with another food. Pair kale with fats like avocado, olive oil, or even parmesan to make fat-soluble carotenoids more available to the body. And acid from lemon juice helps make kale’s iron more bioavailable as well.

RELATED: 10 New Ways to Eat Kale

6. The leafy green is more likely to be ‘dirty.’ According to the Environmental Working Group, kale is one of the most likely crops to have residual pesticides. The organization recommends choosing organic kale (or growing it yourself!).

More on Huffington Post Healthy Living:

8 Habits of Insanely Fit People

5 Superfoods to Eat This Month

6 Things You Thought Wrong About Introverts

  • By Huffington Post Healthy Living Editors

Kale: Natural Weight-Loss Food

Kale is king. Along with broccoli, it is one of the nutrition stand-outs among vegetables. It fights fat through its ability to mingle in a variety of roles — in side dishes, combined in main dishes, or in salads.

For a green, kale is unusually high in fiber. This helps create the bulk you need to fill you up and to keep you full for a good amount of time. Kale is also an excellent source of nutrients, especially vitamin A and calcium. With a combination of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, kale is a dieter’s dream food.

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Health Benefits

Though greens in general are nutritious foods, kale stands a head above the rest. Not only is it one of your best sources of beta-carotene, one of the antioxidants believed by many nutrition experts to be a major player in the battle against cancer, heart disease, and certain age-related chronic diseases, it also provides other important nutrients.

In addition to beta-carotene, kale posses other important carotenoids: lutein and zeaxathin. These carotenoids help keep UV rays from damaging the eyes and causing cataracts.

According to recent research results, kale is an incredible source of well-absorbed calcium, which is one of the many factors that may help prevent osteoporosis. It also provides decent amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium.

The manganese in kale helps your body’s own antioxidant defense system, superoxide dismutase, protecting you from damaging free radicals. Its folate and B6 team up to keep homocysteine levels down, which may help prevent heart disease, dementia, and osteoporosis bone fractures.

Don’t forget, kale’s a member of the cruciferous family, along with broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and collard greens. Research indicates that loading up on cruciferous vegetables and the organosulfur compounds they contain can help ward off certain cancers.

Selection and Storage

Kale looks like a darker green version of collards, but with frills. It also has a stronger flavor and a somewhat coarser texture. The smaller leaves are more tender and the flavor is more mild, but it grows stronger the longer it is stored. So unless you actually prefer a strong taste, use kale within a day or two of buying it. Wrap fresh kale in damp paper towels, and store it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Preparation and Serving Tips

Wash kale thoroughly before cooking, as it often has dirt and sand in its leaves. Hearty kale stands up well to cooking, so just about any method will do. But keep cooking time to a minimum to preserve nutrients and to keep kale’s strong odor from permeating the kitchen. Simmer the greens in a well-seasoned stock for 10 to 30 minutes, until tender. Don’t forget that most greens cook down a great deal. One pound of raw kale yields only about a half cup of cooked. Kale also works well in stir-fries, soups, and stews.

Kale is a weight-loss food that is packed with vitamins and antioxidants that may fight cancer while you’re fighting your waistline.

©Publications International, Ltd.

Weight Loss Diet: Start Your Day With Spinach Kale Smoothie To Lose Weight (Watch Video)

Spinach and kale for weight loss

Excessive eating may make you put on weight but there are some foods that could help you lose weight, even if you consume them in abundance. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are among those foods that may help you achieve your fitness goals. These vegetables are super low in calories and fats, and are extremely filling, which means they will satiate you hunger without adding in extra calories. It’s always best to feed your body with nutrient-dense foods right in the morning. As the digestive system works best in the morning, the body is able to process nutrients in a better way. Also, it gives you ample energy to carry on with the entire day ahead.
Even though it is recommended to eat your heaviest meal for breakfast, somehow, it is not easy to sit through a heavy meal at the start of the day. It is an ironical situation but we are sure it happens with many people. For them, smoothies come to the rescue. This spinach kale smoothie is the best thing you can have for breakfast. Apart from nutrient-dense spinach and kale, it also contains yogurt and cucumber, offering a mixed bag of wellness. All these foods contain many essential nutrients and their anti-oxidative properties keep your overall health in place.
This amazing smoothie recipe has been shared by food vlogger Manjula Jain, through a video on her YouTube channel ‘Manjula’s Kitchen’. Watch it here –

Spinach Kale Smoothie Recipe Video –

(Also Read: Drink This Oats Smoothie To Lose Weight)

About Neha GroverLove for reading roused her writing instincts. Neha is guilty of having a deep-set fixation with anything caffeinated. When she is not pouring out her nest of thoughts onto the screen, you can see her reading while sipping on coffee.

Kale smoothie recipes are some of the most popular green smoothie recipes in the world, and also one of my favorites thanks to how great my body feels after enjoying them.

Kale is what’s known as a “superfood”, which means that it’s packed with an exceptional amount of nutrients and is extremely healthy for you. It’s actually considered one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat (X).

It’s low in calories but big in nutrition, helping you fill up fast to lose weight quickly.

In this article I’m going to discuss what a kale smoothie is, how to make a kale smoothie, and I’ll even provide you with 11 delicious kale smoothie recipes to get you started.

What is a Kale Smoothie?

A kale smoothie recipe generally consists of 1 to 2 cups chopped kale leaves (ribs and thick stems removed), ½ to 1 cup of almond milk or Greek yogurt, fruit, and ice cubes. 1-2 teaspoons of honey is sometimes added as an optional sweetener.

Kale is a leafy cruciferous vegetable similar to cabbage, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts. There are several varieties with different colors and shapes.

Kale is also very high in antioxidants including beta-carotene and Vitamin C. It also contains the compounds Quercetin and Kaempferol, which has been shown to help fight cell damage and lower blood pressure (1,2,3).

How to Make a Kale Smoothie

For every kale smoothie recipe below, the preparation steps are pretty much the same:

  • Clean and remove thick stems from kale leaves.
  • Place chopped ingredients into a smoothie blender.
  • Blend until smooth. Add a liquid like almond milk or ice to thin out if needed.
  • Pour into two medium size glasses.

These ingredients are based on making 2 servings.

I recommend you use fresh ingredients, but you can also use frozen fruits if fresh isn’t available. Try to get organic both in frozen and fresh produce if possible.

I also recommend you serve these kale smoothies quickly since they generally taste best when cold.

Special Tip: For these kale recipes, cut or tear the leaf part off the stem so you have just the leafy pieces remaining. Wash and dry the leaves and then freeze into 1-cup servings. This way you’ll have the exact amount you need without having to cut it up every time.

Kale Smoothie Recipes

The 11 kale smoothie recipes below use a variety of ingredients to provide a unique and delicious smoothie experience.

My favorite fruits to use are bananas, strawberries, and pineapple. What’s yours? Please share in the comments at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

1. Kale Banana Smoothie

This delicious Kale Banana smoothie is a family favorite around our house. It’s easy to make and is loaded with a ton of healthy nutrients.

Bananas are a great sources of potassium, which is imperative to healthy kidneys and controlling blood pressure (4).

One medium sized banana only contains 105 calories (5).

They’re also high in fiber. Eating foods that are high in fiber and low in calories like bananas have been shown to help with weight loss (6).

Kale Banana Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves, ribs and thick stems removed
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)

2. Kale Apple Smoothie

I enjoy this Apple Kale Smoothie often because the ingredients are always on hand. Kale and apples are staples in my kitchen and it’s rare when I’m not stocked up on these two nutritious foods.

Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. They also contain plant compounds called polyphenols, which can have numerous health benefits include lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease and assisting with weight loss (7,8,9).

Eating at least one apple per day has been associated with lowering the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and decreasing blood sugar levels (10).

Kale Apple Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups chopped kale leaves, ribs and thick stems removed
  • 1 apple (I like Gala), cut into chunks
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)

3. Kale Spinach Smoothie

My daughter loves the new Wonder Woman movie. I tell her that if Wonder Woman drank smoothies, this would probably be her favorite. This Kale Spinach smoothie is not only loaded with nutrients, it also tastes yummy, too.

Spinach and kale are two of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and have been shown to help fight all kinds of health issues.

Kale and spinach can be great allies in attacking oxidative stress, which attacks our DNA. Limiting oxidative stress can lower the risk of diabetes, cancer and slow down the ageing process. (11)

Spinach has also been linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer (12).

Kale Spinach Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 8-10 fresh or frozen strawberries or mixed berries
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)

4. Kale Almond Milk Smoothie

This Kale Almond Milk Smoothie is a great example of when simple meets healthy. It is super easy to make.

I often reach for this smoothie for breakfast on days when I’m not overly starving or as an afternoon snack.

Almond milk is not only dairy free, but it’s also very low in calories, typically half that of even skim milk. That’s especially true when you use unsweetened almond milk (13,14).

A unique benefit from almonds is that it has been shown to reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your body and increase the “good” HDL cholesterol (15).

Kale Almond Milk Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)

5. Blueberry Kale Smoothie

Blueberry Kale Smoothies are wonderful on hot days because they’re surprisingly refreshing and not too thick. This recipe is easily thickened if so desired, but I like it as is, icy, healthy and delicious.

Kale and blueberries are both low calorie superfoods that help fight cancer, lower blood pressure and together bring an incredible amount of vitamin C (16,17).

Blueberries have also shown the ability to improve memory loss, which makes this a good recipe for older adults at risk for dementia (18).

Blueberry Kale Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 ½ cup blueberries
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)

6. Kale Mango Smoothie

I love the creamy and luscious flavor of mangos. This Kale Mango Smoothie always reminds me of a tropical beach.

Mangoes are a low calorie fruit with high amounts of Vitamins A and C. These vitamins are great for your immune system and eye health (19).

Mangoes are also high in plant compounds and antioxidants that have been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases and cancers (20).

Kale Mango Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen mango, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)

7. Kale Pineapple Smoothie

This Kale and Pineapple Smoothie recipe is like drinking a tropical dessert full of nutrition that’s delicious no matter the season or weather. It’s a healthy treat that’s easy to make and very good for you, too.

The combination of kale and pineapple deliver a hefty amount of vitamins C, K and plenty of manganese (21,22).

Bromelain, only found in pineapples, is a plant compound that is associated with many unique health benefits including: reducing inflammation, lowering cancer risk and improving gut health (23,24,25).

Kale Pineapple Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)

8. Strawberry Banana Kale Smoothie

When I first I tried this Strawberry Banana Kale Smoothie I knew I had found my new healthy sweet tooth fix. This is an easy sell to the kids as well as being loaded with healthy ingredients.

The anthocyanins in strawberries help give them the bright red color but also help with decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Strawberries also assist in lowering oxidative stress, which helps lower the risk of both types of diabetes (26,27,28).

Strawberry Banana Kale Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey

9. Kale Yogurt Smoothie

This Kale Yogurt Smoothie makes a great breakfast smoothie to start your day. It’s packed lots of with protein and nutrients.

I’ve always been a big fan of Greek yogurt over regular yogurt because it’s simply better for you.

Greek yogurt can contains lots of protein, much more than regular yogurt, which not only gives you more energy it also helps with appetite suppression (29,30).

It’s lower in natural occurring lactose (or milk sugar) than regular yogurt, and is also a good source of gut repairing probiotics (31).

Kale Yogurt Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup berries (strawberries or blueberries)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)

10. Berry Kale Smoothie

Berry Kale Smoothies are delicious no matter which berry you use to make it. I like to try different berries based on what’s in season to keep my taste buds surprised and happy.

Berries are incredibly rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants act like the National Guard in our bodies fighting off the free radicals and reducing the damage to our DNA (32,33)

Berry Kale Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of berries (blueberries, raspberries)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 8 ice cubes (optional)

11. Kale Peanut Butter Smoothie

This tasty Kale Peanut Butter Smoothie just so happens to be vegan without even trying and leaves me with no desire to reach for a snack after.

Although peanut butter does contain a high proportion of fats, used sparingly it can be beneficial for your health. Peanut butter is high in Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, helps lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. (34,35)

Kale Peanut Butter Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped kale leaves, (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Conclusion

Any of these kale smoothie recipes can help with weight management and improved overall health, and I recommend you try them all to see which one you like best.

Also try experimenting with exotic fruits, or other vegetables like carrots or celery to give it a different flavor and nutrition profile.

No matter which recipe is your favorite, if you drink these kale smoothies on a regular basis, you can bet you’re providing your body with the nutrition it craves and it will respond with better health.

Kale for weight loss

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