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Obesity has become one of the most prominent epidemics in the modern world. Busy schedules, desk jobs, and easy-to-eat foods leave very little time to dedicate to healthy habits.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), extra weight can lead to serious health implications such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and even cancers. It can reduce the quality of life and cause disability. (1)
It doesn’t help that most diet food is expensive and can add up to cost when consumed long term. For this reason, low-income families have the most risk of developing obesity and diabetes. (2)
But what most people don’t realize is that it isn’t necessary to eat high-cost foods to maintain optimal weight.
Budget-Friendly Foods for Weight Loss
Consume these foods as part of your daily diet to lose the extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.
1. Brown rice
Rice is the main staple cereal food group for many families in many cultures around the world. Recently, a debate has risen about white versus brown rice. But is there any merit to this debate?
White rice and brown rice have different glycemic indices (GI; a measure at which blood sugar rises after eating a certain food). Brown rice has an intact external high-fiber coating, which slows the rise of blood sugar after eating. (3)
A study done comparing white rice and brown rice intake showed that insulin resistance and levels of total and bad cholesterol reduced after consumption of brown rice. This finding suggested that eating brown rice may be a beneficial approach to a weight loss diet. (3)
However, in another study of 212 people, a link was found between the consumption of white rice and obesity. (4)
Oats are a great food to eat for weight management and also to improve the blood parameters associated with type 2 diabetes.
In one study, subjects with overweight who ate oats had reduced blood glucose levels in their fasting states and after eating. Over 1 year, it was also effective in reducing weight. (5)
Beans are also a staple food in many parts of the world. They are rich sources of protein, especially for vegetarians, and along with a cereal such as brown or white rice, they can make a filling meal.
In one study, eating beans was effective in reducing body fat percentage and waist circumference in women, indicating beans may have a positive effect in reducing abdominal obesity. (7)
Eggs are also foods that you probably already buy as part of your regular diet.
Several studies have proven the weight loss and satiety-increasing benefits of eggs. One study showed that consuming eggs for breakfast reduced energy consumption after a meal in people with obesity. (8)
5. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great protein-rich food for vegetarians. Greek yogurt is different from regular yogurt as it is higher in protein than regular yogurt. (9)
In one study, consuming Greek yogurt thrice a day during exercise days and twice on non-exercise days resulted in an improvement in muscle mass and reduction in body fat percentage in men. (9)
Popcorn is a fiber-rich snack that can help increase satiety, resulting in reduced overeating. One cup of popped corn contains 15 calories, 12 g of protein, and 0.8 g of fiber. (10)
Popcorn can be a cheaper snack alternative than other snacks marketed for weight loss.
7. Seasonal fruits
Fruits are good snacks to eat for weight loss and to improve overall health. They are abundant in fiber and can bring about satiety.
An evaluation of multiple trials conducted in different regions of the world revealed that consumption of fruits was associated with reduced weight. The top five fruits associated with weight loss were apples, pears, blueberries, grapes, prunes, and watermelon. (11)
Purchasing local seasonal fruits can be cost effective compared to buying imported fruits not native to the area.
Generally, vegetables are beneficial for health and weight reduction, and carrots are one of them. They are a great high-fiber, vitamin-rich snack.
A Japanese study evaluated the link between body mass index (BMI) and obesity and consumption of different vegetables, and carrot consumption was associated with reduced overall BMI. (12)
9. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are replete with fiber and have a moderate GI as compared to white potatoes. (13)
In one study, Taiwanese office workers consumed 132 g of sweet potato as a meal replacement for dinner. It was found effective as part of a weight loss diet along with other body measures. (14)
10. Green tea
Green tea can be used as a low-sugar beverage for weight loss. Green tea is teeming with polyphenols such as catechins. (15)
In an evaluation of various studies and trials on individuals with overweight and obesity, some green tea drinkers reported a minimal amount of weight loss in the range of 0.2–3.5 kg as compared to non-drinkers. (15)
While green tea may not be able to reduce significant weight effectively, it can be a cost-effective beverage option. It can be consumed hot or iced to reduce the consumption of high-sugar beverages.
How to Plan a Weight Loss Meal
One of the key factors that will influence weight loss is the total amount of calories consumed. When you consume a low-calorie diet of around 1,500 calories each day, you are consuming 500–750 fewer calories, which is recommended by various weight loss guidelines. (16)
Combining foods in this list along with high-fiber fruits and vegetables can help reduce your consumption of high-fat and high-sugar foods that can increase weight.
Moreover, several recipes are available online that provide a guide on making homemade healthy snacks that are not only cost effective but also ensure the use of high-quality ingredients.
Is There Any Way to Lose Weight Quickly?
Healthy and long-term weight loss is only achieved slowly. Any weight loss that is achieved quickly will have you putting that weight back on just as quickly.
Weight loss is more about building healthy habits that are long term and sustainable. Choosing budget-friendly foods that are most likely already part of your regular grocery purchases is one way to make sure your food choices and healthy habits are sustainable.
You can eat these foods by themselves or mix them together for a delicious meal. Remember, eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or unachievable. It’s all about making the right choices.