Vegetables are essential to a healthy diet. They are packed with nutrients that will help your body work efficiently and help you burn fat.
And because they are low in calories, you generally don’t need to worry about overeating them – this means you’ll be able to lose weight without starving yourself!
However, not all vegetables are created equal. The best vegetables for weight loss, such as those in the cruciferous family (ex. cabbage, broccoli), are low in calories.
Others, like potatoes or corn, can cause you to gain pounds because they’re high in starch and, therefore, calories.
How Do Vegetables Help You Lose Weight?
1. They’re low in calories.
Calories certainly aren’t everything when it comes to losing weight. Still, creating a calorie deficit each day has been proven time and again to help people shed pounds.
This means you need to find reliably low-calorie foods, and if there was ever a food group with this description, it would be vegetables.
2. They keep you fuller for longer.
Unlike pretzels, chips, soda, candy, and other processed foods, vegetables are high in fiber and water. This means they make you feel satisfied for longer and help you stave off hunger and unhealthy impulse snacks.
3. They help your blood sugar remain steady.
Spikes in blood sugar can often lead to energy highs followed by crashes. These crashes can then lead to overeating or snacking on high carbohydrate foods to give yourself energy and help you stay awake.
On the other hand, vegetables are again full of fiber and water, which will help your blood sugar remain steady throughout the day.
What Vegetables Should I Avoid to Lose Weight?
While you can rely on most vegetable varieties to help you lose weight, or at least add essential vitamins and minerals to your diet, there are some you’ll want to consume less than others.
I want to point out that I’m not saying that the following vegetables are unhealthy. Vegetables are healthy, and you should eat them as much as possible!
I much rather prefer that you eat these vegetables than for you to eat junk food. There is no comparison.
Having said that, here are the top 5 calorie dense vegetables:
1. Beans (Legumes)
Legumes (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans) in moderation can be good for you because they’re high in protein. Check out my blog post “Are Beans Good To Lose Weight?” to learn how to incorporate beans in your diet. However, keep in mind that eating too many of them can unnecessarily boost your calorie intake and keep you from dropping weight.
1 oz. beans: 41 calories, 2.6 g of fiber, 2.6 g of protein.
Another starchy vegetable, corn, is also not recommended for weight loss — mainly because of its high-calorie content. For example, one medium ear of sweet corn has 90 calories. Five medium-sized mushrooms, on the other hand, have just 20 calories.
1 oz. corn: 27 calories, 0.7 g of fiber, 1.0 g of protein.
Potatoes, including sweet potatoes, aren’t generally helpful for weight loss because of their high starch content. They also don’t tend to carry a lot of fiber compared with other vegetables. Furthermore, potatoes often come in particularly unhealthy forms — namely, as chips and fries or mashed with lots of gravy.
1 oz. Potato: 22 calories, 0.6 g of fiber, 0.6 g of protein.
Like beans, peas are “pulses.” In most cases, pulses are pretty nutritious. But they’re also higher in calories. It’s best to eat them in moderation for this reason.
1 oz. peas: 22 calories, 1.6 g of fiber, 1.5 g of protein.
Lastly, it’s best to go easy on parsnips for the same reasons you should go easy on potatoes — they’re starchy. And this makes them extra high in carbs.
If it helps, think about parsnips and other root veggies as grains because they’re virtually the same regarding their carb content.
1 oz. parsnips: 20 calories, 1.0 g of fiber, 0.4 g of protein.
What Are the Best Vegetables for Weight Loss?
When you’re looking for the best vegetables for weight loss, you’re mainly looking for three features:
- Low in calories
- High in protein
- High in fiber
Here are the 5 best vegetables for weight loss:
Cucumbers are not only low in calories, but they’re also super-high in water content. They are great at detoxifying the body too. Try adding them to a glass of water for a refreshing summer drink.
1 oz. cucumber: 4 calories, 0.1 g of fiber, 0.2 g of protein.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. They’re most well-known for boosting the immune system and have even been shown to improve cognitive abilities. Try them fresh on a salad or sautéed with olive oil.
1 oz. mushrooms: 6 calories, 0.3 g of fiber, 0.9 g of protein.
Another winner in terms of fiber content, asparagus is also a natural diuretic because it contains a high amount of asparagine — an amino acid. This makes it good for flushing out excess salt and fluids, especially when you’re ready to drop that “water weight” at the beginning of your weight loss journey.
1 oz. asparagus: 6 calories, 0.6 g of fiber, 0.6 g of protein.
4. Broccoli & Cauliflower
Broccoli and cauliflower are very similar in nutrition. They contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and folate. Their high fiber content and phytochemicals can even increase your rate of fat loss. Try making a delicious salad by marinating broccoli and cauliflower florets in some oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian spices.
1 oz. broccoli: 10 calories, 0.7 g of fiber, 0.8 g of protein.
1 oz. cauliflower: 7 calories, 0.7 g of fiber, 0.6 g of protein.
5. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens include veggies like spinach, lettuce, and arugula; full of fiber and low in calories. Most leafy greens go great in salads, smoothies, and sandwiches. You can also add them to soups and stews for bonus flavor, color, and nutrition.
1 oz. leafy green mix: 12 calories, 1.0 g of fiber, 1.0 g of protein.
Can I Just Eat Vegetables to Lose Weight?
You can do this, and it would probably help you lose weight, but I do not advise it because it’s simply unhealthy.
Eating a balanced diet is part of losing weight the healthy way. This means including all different types of foods — from beans and greens, to dairy and whole grains. Your body needs protein, fiber, carbs, fats, and vitamins and minerals not just to survive but to thrive.
With that said, eating a primarily plant-based diet will be best for your weight loss efforts.
Are Organic or Inorganic Vegetables Best for Weight Loss?
When it comes to organic vs. inorganic vegetables, the issue is mostly about nutritional content and the avoidance of chemicals. With this in mind, it’s generally always better to go with organic vegetables, which tend to be higher in nutritional content and lower in chemicals and preservatives.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. Not only are organic vegetables more expensive, but sometimes, you can’t even find an organic version of the vegetable you want. For this reason, try to simply focus on avoiding the non-organic varieties of the “dirty dozen.”
When not in their organic form, these are notoriously the most non-nutritious and chemically-laden vegetables and fruits:
- Kale, collard, and mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
On the other hand, here is the list of vegetables on the “clean 15”. This means they have the least pesticide residues.
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen sweet peas
How to Prepare Vegetables for Weight Loss
If your goal is to lose weight, you’re best off consuming vegetables that are prepared with as few cooking fats and sauces as possible. This means that the following would be the best ways to prepare your vegetables for weight loss:
Beyond that, these preparation methods are pretty diet-friendly too (as long as you go easy on the cooking fat):
With all that said, I’ll also note that you should aim to please your unique palate. Know what you like, and compromise when you need to in order to ultimately consume more veggies.
This is because forcing yourself to eat steamed carrots and zucchini every night won’t last. The inevitable “crash” will occur and could negate all your progress. It’s better to work with yourself from the get-go.
For instance, if the only way you’ll eat broccoli is sautéed with a bit of sesame oil, that’s okay. Some people can’t stand steamed broccoli, and a half teaspoon or so of sesame oil isn’t going to cancel out the positive effects of this vegetable.
On the other hand, here are a few prep methods you should really try to avoid:
- Breading and frying
- Covering in heavy sauce, dip, or cheese
Tips to Incorporate More Vegetables into Your Diet
1. Aim to make half your plate veggies (or fruit).
The American Heart Association recommends adults get about 4 ½ cups of veggies and fruits each day. To accomplish this, they recommend filling at least half of your plate with veggies or fruits at each meal.
A good tip here is to start thinking of your meals as a main dish of vegetables, along with a side dish of protein and a side dish of whole grains.
2. Start an herb garden.
Adding fresh herbs to your meals is both delicious and healthy. Unfortunately, we all know how expensive fresh herbs can be — and they definitely don’t last long. Having an herb garden in your kitchen will get you to consume more herbs and, thus, consume more vegetables.
3. Add vegetables to your favorite smoothies.
Do you love a good banana blueberry smoothie? Consider adding a handful of spinach the next time you make it.
The spinach will heighten your drink’s nutrition and displace some of the higher-calorie fruit. It also barely has a taste when blended with fruit, so you likely won’t even notice it.
4. Remember that substitution is the key.
Try substituting one part of each meal for vegetables. For instance, if you’re used to having an egg and two pieces of toast each morning, swap out one of the pieces of toast for a tomato or some lightly sautéed onions.
It’s not always easy to eat enough vegetables every day. But if you do, it will help your body work more efficiently and burn more fat than ever before!
This is because of the low-calorie and high-fiber content of most veggies. Certain vegetables, in particular, are beneficial when it comes to weight loss.
Cruciferous vegetables are a great example because they offer detoxifying properties and help with digestion.
Starchy vegetables, like potatoes and legumes, should be eaten sparingly because they are high in calories.
Which vegetables are your favorites?