18 Pantry Staples That Can Help You Lose Weight
What if the secret to shedding pounds was already in your kitchen? While fresh produce and lean protein are a huge part of a sustainable weight-loss diet, all of these healthy pantry staples can boost your metabolism and help your body burn more fat. Check out this list, and make sure to stock up the next time you're at the market.
— Additional reporting by Leta Shy
Apple Cider Vinegar
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar may help keep you from feeling hungry by slowing stomach emptying; it also lowers the glycemic index of high-carb foods, meaning it can help you feel fuller longer by slowing the release of glucose into your bloodstream.
Rich in protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids, tuna should be your go-to on busy nights when you need something quick. Add it to a simple salad for a more balanced meal, or try out our light and bright tuna salad recipe that kicks the fatty mayo out of the equation.
Pungent, spicy cayenne powder is a staple of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine that's known to kick up your body's temperature and boost your metabolism. An added bonus is that the capsaicin content in cayenne helps your brain release endorphins! If you're worried about cayenne being too spicy, try this Fall detox salad that calls for just a little but offers big benefits to your health.
Few beverages offer more aid to a weight-loss plan than green tea. It's been proven to boost metabolism and suppress appetite. In short, it's time to start sipping.
Quinoa is a protein-packed pseudograin that's rich in digestion-relieving fiber; it can help you feel satiated for long after you eat. Get creative with one of these quinoa recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or throw together one of these quick quinoa combinations when you're pressed for time. Try cooking up a big batch of quinoa on Sunday night, so it's ready to toss into a salad or serve alongside lean protein all week long.
Broth-based soups are a healthy eater's best friend; they fill you up, are relatively convenient, and are low in calories. Look for a low-sodium, BPA-free can or boxed soup for the healthiest option with the fewest preservatives.
Lower in carbs and high in fiber, it's time to make the switch to whole-wheat pasta. It's the more nutritious option when compared with white-flour pasta, and these noodles keep you satisfied for longer due to their fiber content — a must when you're trying to shed pounds.
A 2011 study found that people who ate an ounce of nuts a day had higher levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which can act as an appetite suppressant. Higher serotonin levels may also help diminish stress levels — a big help when it comes to the fight against belly fat.
Unsweetened Coconut Milk
When you're craving something rich, let unsweetened coconut milk come to the rescue! Both vegan- and Paleo-friendly, this ingredient can thicken up many recipes leaving you with the perfect (seemingly rich) texture that's full of good, healthy fats that can support weight-loss goals. Try this pumpkin bisque for yourself to taste the results.
Swap your breakfast cereal for a bowl of oatmeal, and you just may see the pounds disappear. A recent study found that those who ate oatmeal instead of cereal consumed the same amount of calories but felt fuller longer and more satisfied, thanks to oatmeal's high fiber content.
Back off the oil and butter, and keep low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth in your pantry. It can help you throw together a light soup, but you can save calories and cut back on fat when you use the wet sauté cooking technique. Simply use twice as much vegetable broth as you would oil. If a recipe calls for two tablespoons of olive oil, try four tablespoons of broth.
Skip refined sugar, and be sure to keep honey on hand. A little goes a long way with this sweet stuff, and it's much better than stripped-down white sugar that can cause your blood sugar to spike.
Besides being high in protein and fiber, lentils are also a great source of resistant starch, a type of carb that just might make you burn more fat and lose weight faster. Try adding these lentil recipes to your rotation.
Quick, easy, and inexpensive, keep this budget-friendly protein source in your pantry at all times. When you're stocked up on beans, you can always throw together a hearty, low-calorie meal that won't take too long to make. Check out these healthy bean recipes and try one out in your kitchen.
Fiber, protein, omega-3s — chia seeds have them all. Not only that, but they plump when added to liquid, which can make you feel more satisfied with smaller portions. Sprinkle chia seeds into your smoothies or on top of your oatmeal, or make an overnight chia pudding to enjoy for breakfast.
Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, an active component with anti-inflammatory benefits that's rich in antioxidants. In an animal study performed at Tufts University, researchers found that the curcumin found in turmeric appears to "reduce weight gain in mice and suppress the growth of fat tissue." While adequate studies haven't been performed on humans, even Dr. Weil believes that the results are promising!
Polenta is a low-fat complex carbohydrate that can make dinner a breeze while supporting your weight-loss goals; high in insoluble fiber, polenta can keep hunger at bay long after you eat. Look for it in firm tubes at the supermarket, or keep a box ready to go in your pantry. This polenta and bean dish is a perfect pantry dish for weight loss.