There is no magic bullet to weight loss—the only way to shed extra pounds is to eat fewer calories than you burn off. Period. We tracked down the top five foods that are not only low-cal but help curb cravings, making it easier to achieve a calorie deficit. Stock your kitchen with these five foods if you're trying to lose weight.
Pistachios in the shell
Two studies from Eastern Illinois University found that participants who ate in-shell pistachios slashed their calorie intake by 41 percent compared to those who consumed pistachios that had been pre-shelled. Both groups reported being equally satisfied. In another study, participants who could see their empty pistachio shells pile up as they snacked reduced calories by 18 percent compared to those who discarded the shells. The conclusion: Pistachios in the shell not only help serving sizes appear larger, the empty shells remind you of how many you’ve eaten.
Potatoes are wrongly accused of being a dieter’s archenemy. A medium potato only has 110 calories, 2 grams fiber and 3 grams protein. One study even found that boiled potatoes scored the highest on a “satiety index” of all foods. They're more than twice as filling as whole grain bread, and generally more filling than fish, steak and all the fruits and vegetables in the study. Potatoes provide "resistant starch," a type of carbohydrate that you can’t digest, and they lower blood pressure and promote fat burning. Enjoy cold potato salad (watch how much fat-laden mayonnaise you add!)—resistant starch increases once the potatoes are chilled, according to USDA researchers.
Forget bagels in the morning and enjoy eggs instead. Several studies show that eating eggs for breakfast can help cut calories throughout the entire day. In one study, subjects were fed a calorie-restricted breakfast of either eggs or a bagel. The egg group lost 65 percent more weight and significantly more belly fat than the bagel group. A study following men who ate an egg breakfast found that they ate 331 fewer calories throughout the day compared to the guys who ate a cereal and toast breakfast. The researchers reported that eggs decrease hunger hormones while accelerating the hormones associated with feelings of fullness.
Not so into eggs? Than go for oatmeal—it's a great option for breakfast because it’s a whole grain and has four grams of fiber and five grams of protein per 1 cup serving. New research recently presented at Experimental Biology 2013 found that unsweetened oatmeal increased feelings of fullness and reduced the desire to eat more than an equal calorie serving of oat-based cold cereal. The researchers suggest that the unique beta-glucan fiber in oatmeal contributed to the hunger-squashing benefits.
Nonfat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt is one of the most nutritious options to help you trim inches. Greek yogurt packs have more than 20 grams of protein per cup and is relatively low in natural sugars. Dairy foods provide both whey and casein proteins for double-duty weight loss benefits: Whey reduces hunger in the short-term while casein tempers your appetite over a longer period of time.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.