weight_loss[1]

superfoods for weight loss

People who are insulin resistant typically benefit from eating foods with a lower insulin load which helps normalise insulin and blood glucose.  Managing your appetite is easier once you get off the blood glucose roller coaster.

However people who are obese but are also insulin sensitive seem to benefit even more by reducing energy density and maximising nutrient density as much as possible.

Once your blood glucose levels are under control by reducing the insulin load of your diet, foods with a low energy density and high nutrient density will likely help you continue your journey towards optimum health and weight.

The chart below is from a recent pilot trial by Christopher Gardner of Stanford (Weight loss on low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate diets by insulin resistance status among overweight adults and adults with obesity: A randomized pilot trial) which showed that the people who were insulin resistant generally did better on a higher fat low carbohydrate diet while people who were more insulin sensitive did better on a lower fat, lower energy density approach.  Everyone in the study did better by eating more more nutrient dense unprocessed foods regardless of the macronutrient composition!

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Reducing energy density (i.e. more water, more fibre and less fat) enables you to maximise nutrient density across the board (i.e. essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids per calorie).

The chart below (click o enlarge) shows that the low energy density foods listed below are pretty much the most dense foods available!

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This chart below shows the nutrients provided by the top 10% of the foods when sorted by this ranking compared to all foods in the USDA database.

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These foods will enable you to minimise your energy intake (calories) without and minimise your chance of experiencing any nutritional deficiencies.  For example, if you were fasting or dieting, focusing on these foods would maximise your chance of long term successes and minimising cravings.

The foods listed below represent the top 10% of the USDA food database prioritised for high nutrient density and low energy density.  The highest ranking foods involve lean proteins, non starchy veggies and seafood.  High fat dairy, processed grains and energy dense nuts and seeds don’t make the list.

The nutrient dense, high fibre, low energy density foods listed below will help you feel full with fewer calories, increase satiety and make it easier to control appetite.  This approach is similar to a protein sparing modified fast which which reduces your dietary fat on the basis that it will be coming from your body. Adequate protein is also critical to building lean muscle mass which is critical to your metabolic health.

“A nourishing, balanced diet that provides all the required nutrients in the right proportions is the key to minimising appetite and eliminating hunger at minimal caloric intake.”

Paul Jaminet

Also included in the table are the nutrient density score, percentage of insulinogenic calories, insulin load, energy density and the multicriteria analysis score score (MCA) that combines all these factors.

vegetables

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
broccoli 23 36% 3 22 2.97
watercress 22 65% 2 11 2.89
spinach 20 49% 4 23 2.64
zucchini 18 40% 2 17 2.53
basil 17 47% 3 23 2.40
asparagus 16 50% 3 22 2.29
coriander 16 30% 2 23 2.27
brown mushrooms 16 73% 5 22 2.24
endive 15 23% 1 17 2.18
Chinese cabbage 15 54% 2 12 2.16
lettuce 14 50% 2 15 2.10
portabella mushrooms 14 55% 5 29 2.03
chicory greens 14 23% 2 23 2.00
okra 13 50% 3 22 1.98
white mushroom 13 65% 5 22 1.97
chard 13 51% 3 19 1.95
cauliflower 13 50% 4 25 1.94
beet greens 13 35% 2 22 1.90
parsley 13 48% 5 36 1.90
summer squash 12 45% 2 19 1.83
seaweed (wakame) 12 79% 11 45 1.81
escarole 11 24% 1 19 1.75
spirulina 11 70% 6 26 1.75
shitake mushroom 12 58% 7 39 1.74
dill 11 59% 8 43 1.73
chives 11 48% 4 30 1.72
arugula 11 45% 3 25 1.68
mung beans 10 74% 4 19 1.65
turnip greens 10 44% 4 29 1.64
dandelion greens 10 54% 7 45 1.59
celery 10 50% 3 18 1.57
alfalfa 9 19% 1 23 1.47
mustard greens 9 36% 3 27 1.45
cucumber 7 39% 1 12 1.34
pickles 7 39% 1 12 1.34
seaweed (kelp) 8 77% 10 43 1.34
banana pepper 8 36% 3 27 1.33
yeast extract spread 10 59% 27 185 1.26
cabbage 7 55% 4 23 1.25
radicchio 7 67% 4 23 1.25
bamboo shoots 7 60% 5 27 1.25
collards 7 37% 4 33 1.24
red peppers 6 40% 3 31 1.20
radishes 6 43% 2 16 1.18
snap beans 6 58% 3 15 1.16
peas 6 65% 7 42 1.15
Brussel sprouts 6 50% 6 42 1.14
kale 6 60% 5 28 1.13
pumpkin 5 76% 4 20 1.11
sauerkraut 5 39% 2 19 1.10
soybeans (sprouted) 6 49% 12 81 1.10
edamame 7 41% 13 121 1.08
paprika 9 27% 26 282 1.07
cloves 9 35% 35 274 1.06
onions 5 65% 6 32 1.03
chayote 5 40% 3 24 1.02
artichokes 5 49% 7 47 1.01
jalapeno peppers 5 37% 3 27 1.00
eggplant 4 35% 3 25 0.97
radishes 4 60% 3 18 0.97

grains and cereal

amazing-health-benefits-of-wheat-bran

food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
baker’s yeast 15 53% 16 105 1.97
All Bran 13 56% 55 259 1.53
wheat bran 10 38% 34 216 1.30

seafood

seafood-salad-5616x3744-shrimp-scallop-greens-738

food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
salmon 19 52% 20 156 2.40
fish roe 18 47% 18 143 2.26
crab 17 71% 14 83 2.23
oyster 16 59% 14 102 2.16
trout 16 45% 18 168 2.05
halibut 15 66% 17 111 1.98
lobster 14 71% 15 89 1.94
shrimp 13 69% 19 119 1.80
rockfish 13 66% 17 109 1.80
flounder 13 57% 12 86 1.78
pollock 13 69% 18 111 1.77
sturgeon 13 49% 16 135 1.77
crayfish 12 67% 13 82 1.75
anchovy 12 44% 22 210 1.52
caviar 13 33% 23 264 1.51
haddock 11 71% 19 116 1.49
tuna 12 52% 23 184 1.48
perch 10 62% 14 96 1.46
whiting 10 66% 18 116 1.45
white fish 10 70% 18 108 1.40
octopus 9 71% 28 164 1.28
cod 11 71% 48 290 1.24
cisco 9 29% 13 177 1.23
sardines 9 36% 16 185 1.17
sardine 9 37% 19 208 1.1
herring 9 36% 19 217 1.10
scallop 7 77% 22 111 1.09
clam 6 73% 25 142 0.92

animal products

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
lamb kidney 19 52% 15 112 2.41
lamb liver 19 48% 20 168 2.34
beef liver 17 59% 25 175 2.11
veal liver 17 55% 26 192 2.09
turkey liver 16 47% 21 189 1.92
beef kidney 14 52% 20 157 1.81
chicken liver 14 50% 20 172 1.78
ham 12 59% 17 113 1.62
lean beef 11 61% 23 149 1.52
veal 11 65% 24 151 1.48
pork liver 11 59% 23 165 1.46
chicken 10 60% 22 148 1.42
lamb heart 10 48% 19 161 1.33
turkey 9 65% 22 138 1.30
pork chop 9 57% 23 172 1.26
beef heart 9 52% 23 179 1.26
turkey heart 9 47% 20 174 1.22
pork shoulder 9 56% 22 162 1.21
leg ham 9 56% 22 165 1.19
turkey meat 8 52% 21 158 1.19
turkey drumstick 8 52% 21 158 1.19
ground beef 8 59% 20 144 1.18
ground pork 9 54% 25 185 1.17

dairy and eggs

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
whole egg 9 30% 10 143 1.28
cream cheese (low fat) 8 76% 19 105 1.21
kefir 6 64% 7 41 1.18
cottage cheese (low fat) 6 63% 13 81 1.05
Greek yogurt 5 63% 11 73 0.99

other approaches

The table below contains links to separate blog posts and printable .pdfs detailing optimal foods for a range of dietary approaches (sorted from most to least nutrient dense) that may be of interest depending on your situation and goals.   You can print them out to stick to your fridge or take on your next shopping expedition for some inspiration.

dietary approach printable .pdf
weight loss (insulin sensitive) download
autoimmune (nutrient dense) download
alkaline foods download
nutrient dense bulking download
nutrient dense (maintenance) download
weight loss (insulin resistant) download
autoimmune (diabetes friendly) download
zero carb download
diabetes and nutritional ketosis download
vegan (nutrient dense) download
vegan (diabetic friendly) download
therapeutic ketosis download
avoid download

If you’re not sure which approach is right for you and whether you are insulin resistant, this survey may help identify the optimal dietary approach for you.

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50 thoughts on “superfoods for weight loss”

  1. I thought parsley was a green vegetable, not a spice.

    Do spices really upset a diet, if consumed in spice like quantities?

    How about turmeric?

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    1. Hey Don. Good question. This weight loss approach is for someone who has their blood glucose under control but still has weight to lose. The intent is that if your blood glucose is still high you could use the ‘foods for diabetes and nutritional ketosis’ or even a combination of the two lists.

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    1. Tomato are about 65% insulinogenic calories. The insulin load is about 3g/100g so it’s not about to spike your glucose levels. Lots of vitamin C but not they don’t score really high overall.

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  2. Please help me ubderstand what % insulinogenic means exactly? Also…i assume this isn’t necessarily for a LCHF diet because sweet corn for instance wouldn’t be in such a diet. I also feel unsure what I should look at, glycemic load? Especially in Protein. How do i choose the best Protein to prevent insulin spike? What is a good glycemic load to keep insulin levels flat(ish)? 🙂

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  3. Wondering why the ND values bounce around for different foods. Celery is 1.03 in the above table, yet in other iterations of these tables on your other pages you can see ND values for celery of 1.44, 2.63, 1.27, 2.67.
    Insulinogenicity is more consistent, but varies from table to table. Insulin load and calories are most reliably represented across the food items.

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  4. I firstly want to thank you so much for the research and huge effort you have put into this site and the very valuable information. I am lost in the wilderness as a 60 year old woman. My question really is: With taking everything in to account using the superfoods for weight loss, I or anyone trying to lose fat would still have to ensure a decent calorie deficit wouldn’t they? I get stuck between low carb and lower calories and I have been bouncing around for years not really getting anywhere. Also is there an insulin load per meal that we should aim for?

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    1. In the end its about energy, but how your body processes energy is complex. Nutrient dense low energy density food will enable you to get the nutrients you need from your food while you are losing fat from your body which should give you the best chance of long term success without binging or any need for metabolic slowdown.

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      1. Metabolic slowdown does not happen when fasting and most data suggests fasting increase metabolic rate. The fear of a slow metabolism is what kept everyone eating more often.

        You cannot lose fat without fasting. Some people get away with less fasting than others (i.e. overnight) but insulin resistant people must fast for longer to reduce insulin levels in the body. Start 20:4. (Reducing eating window to 4 hrs every day). Continue if working. If not working increase fasts to 48hrs, perhaps throwing in a 48hr fast once a week. The 5:2 plan (fast for 2 days a week) has got people good results. When combined with Marty’s excellent info about insulinogenic foods fasting will result in fat loss. Break the fast with foods high in fat and fibre and low in carbs and it is easier to get back in the fasted state. It is just a case of how long you need to fast to bring those insulin levels down in the body. Butter Bob Briggs is good on this subject and very easy to understand. His latest videos are about fasting. Check him out on youtube.

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    2. Forget the calories. Eat more HFLC food, less often. Once a day is good for people who are not very insulin resistant and don’t have much weight to lose. This didn’t work for me so now I try not to eat sooner than every 48hours and it is working, been obese all my life and lost 70lbs so far this year. Fasting reduces the body’s levels of insulin. That is the key point I was missing when I was HFLC for the best part of the last decade, but still obese. The funny thing is that the more fat you eat at a meal the fuller you stay for longer. I haven’t eaten since last night and eating is the last thing I feel like doing even though it is lunch time now. (Because I ate keto ratios 80% calories from fat). People are scared of calories because they believe in CICO (calories in= calories out) but it is insulin that controls whether we are in a fed or fasted state. The obese have high insulin all the time so they are in the fed state all the time. It takes 2 days of fasting for their insulin levels to drop. If you are only a little overweight it may only take 16hrs for your insulin level to drop. If you eat food (even HFLC food) before your body’s insulin level has dropped down to baseline then you will not reach the fasted state and you will not be losing fat because you will not be in the fasted state. I recommend reading Dr Jason Fung’s The Obesity Code. His ideas changed my life. Now I realise losing weight is about the level of insulin in the body. Eating carbs raises insulin. Eating protein raises insulin. Eating fat doesn’t raise insulin as much. Eating nothing reduces insulin! So eat more fat, less often. While you are raising insulin with a meal make sure you eat enough food to satiate you so you can go the long haul with no food. Time spent not eating = fat loss, only once your insulin has lowered to baseline. That is why some people are thin and some are fat. The thin people reach their insulin baseline faster than the overweight ones. They reach the fasted state quickly. This is also why snacking (even HFLC snacks!) is a definite no no when trying to lose fat. Peace out and good luck with it.

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      1. Thanks for that Danielle. It seems like you have done the hard yards. Probably the missing link that I am also rejecting. Funny how we fear fasting but science is showing that it is the best solution for fat loss and longevity.

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