One of the most exciting aspects of the seasons changing is that you get to partake in a whole new bounty of produce—and fall undoubtedly brings some of the tastiest foods. As an added bonus, many of those foods happen to be good for you. No, we’re not talking about apple pie and stuffing—although those are delicious, they’re not exactly the best choices when you’re trying to lose weight. That’s why we rounded up all the foods to eat during the fall for quicker weight loss. So you know exactly which seasonal ingredients to focus on when you’re trying to slim down.
Whether you’re looking for nutritious snack options to pack for work, or new veggies to add to your weeknight dinners, be sure to add the following fall foods to your shopping cart to make your weight loss journey a bit easier. Then, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Registered dietitians agree that pumpkin is an autumn staple that you don’t want to miss out on. According to Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, it’s not only packed with essential nutrients, but it’s also high in fiber, which helps you stay full so you don’t overeat between meals.
“Pumpkin may be beneficial for weight loss because it’s largely made up of water (about 90%), making it low in calories while remaining rich in health-promoting vitamins and minerals,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices.
Burgess strongly recommends choosing 100% canned pumpkin puree, rather than pumpkin pie mix which is generally made for baking and therefore, filled with unnecessary added sugar. Try adding pumpkin puree to soups and smoothies, or mixing it with rolled oats and nut butter to make no-bake pumpkin energy bites.
By the way—if you’re carving up any pumpkins this season, be sure to save the seeds for roasting.
“These seeds may be small, but their benefits are mighty,” says Kate Wilson McGowan, RDN, founder of Bittersweet Nutrition. “Pumpkin seeds are rich in nutrients known to support weight loss, such as fiber, protein, and unsaturated fatty acids. A handful of pumpkin seeds contains a substantial quantity of healthy fats, 7 grams of protein (the same as an egg), iron, magnesium and zinc. Since pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, and zinc, they help boost immunity and reduce inflammation. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, as well as heart and bone health.”
McGowan suggests sprinkling pumpkin seeds onto salads or tossing them into a trail mix, but they also make a stellar snack on their own.
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Whether you pick your own at a local farm or pick some up at the supermarket, apples are another phenomenal fall food to stock up on when you’re aiming to shed some pounds. One large apple with the skin has a whopping 5.4 grams of fiber, or 19% of your daily value.
Not to mention, Banna notes that apples have been linked to many other health benefits, like helping to prevent certain chronic diseases, like cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2011 review in Advances in Nutrition acknowledged that apples are associated with improved outcomes related to weight management, as well as bone health, gastrointestinal protection, lung function, and aging-related cognitive decline.
Try dipping apple slices into almond butter for a healthy but satiating snack, chopping them up and tossing them into a kale and walnut salad, or adding thin slices to a turkey sandwich for some sweet and satisfying crunch.
“This cruciferous veggie is the perfect weight-loss food,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, and a member of our medical expert board. “It is high in fiber and low in calories and pairs really well with lean proteins like fish or chicken.”
If you don’t like the taste of Brussels sprouts, Jen Hernandez RDN, CSR, LDN of Plant-Powered Kidneys, strongly recommends ditching the traditional method of steaming them and roasting or air frying them instead for more flavorful results.
“The charred and browned areas give more texture and slight sweetness, which pairs well with a balsamic reduction,” she explains. “They’re a great substitute for potatoes.”
“Satisfying your hunger with this nutrient-rich food is a great way to aid in weight loss and immune support simultaneously,” says Trista Best, RD, MPH with Balance One.
Butternut squash is another low-calorie, high-fiber food, which makes it a no-brainer when it comes to weight loss. A 2009 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that for every gram increase in dietary fiber intake, women lost 0.55 pounds and their body fat decreased by 0.25%. Butternut squash contains not only insoluble fiber but also soluble fiber—which research has shown may help to reduce your appetite, thus causing you to consume fewer calories.
Butternut squash is super versatile—Best recommends using it in soups and stews, or adding roasted butternut squash to a fall-themed salad with sunflower seeds and cranberries. She says you can also use it in a healthy whole-grain muffin recipe—this squash pairs especially well with nuts and spices.
Butternut squash isn’t the only squash that can come in handy in regards to weight loss. While acorn squash may be slightly less popular, it’s just as healthy of a choice.
“The fiber in acorn squash adds more volume without adding calories so it can help us feel satisfied,” says Emily Rice, RDN and staff dietitian at the Comprehensive Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. It also keeps the food in the stomach longer, helping us feel fuller longer which may result in less snacking and reducing portion sizes of nutrient-poor foods.
Dr. Joan Salge Blake, RDN, LDN—a nutrition professor at Boston University and the host of the nutrition and health podcast Spot On!—recommends baking acorn squash with cinnamon and a dash of honey to satisfy your sweet tooth.
“Keep cooked squash in a covered container in the refrigerator,” she says. “When you have a craving for sweets, microwave a scoop of the squash.”
You can also roast acorn squash with savory herbs and spices for a filling side dish to roasted meats, or stuff half of a roasted squash with lentils and other veggies.
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