Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
You don’t need to starve yourself on a wacky fad diet if you want to look better in your shorts or swimsuit this summer.
The secret to weight loss is to choose healthy foods and take in fewer calories than you burn. And it's just easier to make better food choices in summertime, when heavy, high-calorie dishes seem less appealing. The best foods for weight loss in summer are light, refreshing and, most important, keep you out of the hot kitchen.The single easiest way to trim calories from your summer diet, experts say, is to load up on nature’s bounty. Produce is at its peak in summer. Delicious fruits and vegetables abound at farmers' markets and in your local grocery. Besides being low in calories, produce is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
"Enjoy fresh produce in season. You will be thrilled at how fresh, delicious, and satisfying it tastes," says Susan Moores, RD, a St. Paul, Minn. nutrition consultant. "Save the oranges and apples for fall, and load up on fresh berries, melons, greens, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, pea pods, and all the super-nutritious and low-calorie fruits, greens and vegetables that grow in the garden this time of year."
As a bonus, you can forget about portion control when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, Moores say.
"Go for it, because it is hard to do much damage to your waistline with these super-nutritious edibles," says Moores
To keep your cool and cut your time in the kitchen, start with prepared produce, such as cut-up fruit and washed greens. Add rotisserie chicken, prepared soups, and pre-threaded kabobs when you need something a bit heartier. Pre-prepped foods may cost a little extra, but they save time in the kitchen.
Here are dietitian's picks for some of the best foods to help with weight loss during the summer.
Best Summer Weight Loss Food No. 1: Chilled SoupsMoores loves all kind of produce but says cold soups are among her favorite low-calorie dishes. Chilled soups like gazpacho or cucumber-dill that contain lots of chunky vegetables are a great way to start a meal.
"Research shows that a low-calorie, broth-based soup at the beginning of the meal will fill you so you eat less at the meal," Moores says.
Best Summer Weight Loss Food No. 2: WatermelonWho doesn’t love diving into a crisp, juicy slice of watermelon when it's hot outside?
"Half of the watermelon comes from water," Moores says. "It’s a wonderful way to satisfy thirst and a yen for something sweet."
Best Summer Weight Loss Food No. 3: Grilled VeggiesFor Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a plate of grilled vegetables is a summertime must-have. She recommends keeping a plate of grilled onions, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, asparagus, and garlic in your fridge. You can use them to make dishes like:
- Grilled vegetable and goat cheese salads
- Grilled vegetable pitas
- Grilled vegetable, ricotta, and fresh herb pasta and frittatas