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10 Best Summer Foods for Weight Loss, According to Dietitians

Enjoy these light bites—and their many nutritional benefits.

Summer is widely associated with weight loss and the pressure to get your body "beach-ready." But cut through all the diet culture noise, and there's a less toxic takeaway if you're hoping to continue an ongoing weight loss journey into the summer months. This warmer season may simply be an easier time to lose weight by healthy means if you reorient your diet around seasonal produce and summer cooking staples. Rather than adding pressure, you can strip it away by finding a wider range of seasonal foods to enjoy.

"Weight loss does not have a particular season," says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD/LDN, a registered licensed dietitian and nutritionist working with Consumer Health Digest. Gomer notes that the best weight loss advice is true all year round: You should avoid all addictive, highly processed foods in favor of nutrient-dense whole foods. "Doing that alone will enable weight loss for everyone," she says.

However, Gomer notes that certain lifestyle changes associated with warmer weather can promote healthier habits. "For example, as summer is warmer, it may be more motivating to spend time outside, being in nature and getting more movement or exercise. Additionally, eating foods that are lighter can be common in warmer weather," she notes.

Wondering what to eat as summer approaches? These are the 10 best summer foods for weight loss, according to dietitians and nutritionists.

RELATED: 10 Hidden Sources of Sugar That Could Be Making You Gain Weight.

Summer salads

Fresh colorful spring vegetable salad with cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers in the blue bowl. Cook's hand pouring olive oil with herbs (dressing). Healthy organic vegan lunch or snack close up.

Eating a wide range of fresh vegetables is a great way to lose weight over the summer.

"By eating whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals, you're going to be supplying your cells with what they need to ensure that your metabolism speeds up," says Daryl Gioffre, DC, a certified nutritionist and gut health expert at Alkamind. "The best way to incorporate these foods into your diet this summer? A delicious summer salad."

Dark leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, carrots, avocados, fresh fruits, chilled legumes, nuts, and seeds can all make excellent salad additions. Top it off with a protein and whole grain to eat a nutritionally complete meal.


Woman adding spirulina green powder to green smoothie

Next, Gioffre recommends opting for summer smoothies, which are an easy way to pack in nutrients and ensure that your body gets all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats it needs.

Add antioxidant-rich berries, leafy greens such as kale, nut butters or seeds, and protein powder for a recipe that will fill you up without slowing you down, the experts recommend.


A close up of strawberries in a vintage enamel bowl
Shutterstock / Dobra Kobra

When you don't have time to make a smoothie, snacking on fresh berries can confer many of the same benefits.

"Berries are also high in fiber to promote a healthy gut and digestion," says Gioffre. In particular, he recommends blueberries, noting that they are "one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat."

"They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants which have been shown to provide anxiety and stress relief, which can help reduce the chances of stress overeating," he says.

Gioffre adds that strawberries and raspberries also have notable health benefits: "One serving of strawberries has 150 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. And raspberries, also nutrient-dense, are high in antioxidants and low in sugar."

RELATED: Fitness Coach Shares "3 Easy Steps" to Lose Weight Before Summer.


Red Bell Peppers Anti-Aging Foods

Virtually all non-starchy vegetables are low in calories, so it's hard to go wrong in your selection.

Michael O. McKinney, CN, a certified nutritionist for Healthy Outlook, recommends peppers in particular, noting that they're especially versatile and can be used in a range of dishes and eaten either raw, grilled, or roasted. Their bright colors and crispness make them perfect for topping salads or snacking on during the warm summer months.

"Peppers are low on calories and rich in vitamins, mainly vitamin C. They add flavor and volume to meals which keeps you feeling full without consuming many excess calories," he tells Best Life.


Three Spanish gazpacho in drinking glasses
iStock / fcafotodigital

Gazpacho is a chilled soup made of raw, blended vegetables. Most often, gazpacho recipes combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onions, olive oil, water, vinegar, and cucumbers. Sometimes, the mixture is then thickened with bread crumbs, though this is optional if you're following a low-carb diet.

Gioffre says this is one of the best summer foods for weight loss because it's healthy, refreshing, filling, and packed with vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Served as an appetizer, gazpacho can help you crowd out less healthy menu options, ultimately leading to weight loss.

The nutrition expert notes that his favorite gazpacho recipe combines watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, jalapenos, shallots, cilantro, lime juice, and mint. "Refrigerate it for at least four hours. When it's ready to serve, garnish each bowl with fresh mint and cilantro leaves," he advises.

RELATED: 9 High-Fiber Foods for Weight Loss That Will Keep You Full and Satisfied.

Portobello mushrooms

Grilling portobello mushroom caps on a grill outside

Grilled veggies are another summer staple, and experts say portobello mushrooms can be especially helpful for summertime weight loss. Though they hold flavor beautifully from marinades and sauces, 100 grams of portobello mushrooms contain just 22 calories.

"These babies are so tasty cooked on the grill and can sub in for some high-fat meats like steak," says Rachel MacPherson, ACE-CPT, CSCS, a certified personal trainer, certified exercise nutrition specialist, and a consultant for Garage Gym Reviews. "They are perfect for marinating, adding to kabobs, tossing into salads, and layering in sandwiches."

"Portobellos are filling and low-calorie and are packed with vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (rare for a vegetable), potassium, and precious vitamin D, which is not found in many food sources," she adds.


woman eating watermelon

Any fresh fruits that you enjoy are a great addition to your summer diet. However, experts say that watermelon can be especially beneficial, given its extraordinarily high water content.

"Watermelon is one of the best fruits for summer weight loss as it contains about 90 percent water, is low in sugar, and is rich in vitamins A and C and antioxidants," says Gioffre.

Grilled lean meats

Balsamic grilled chicken breast with fresh herbs sliced on a rustic wooden board

Grilling up burgers or hotdogs can get you in the seasonal spirit, but the nutrition experts say it's best to avoid processed meats that are high in saturated fat, sodium, or nitrates. Instead, grilling unprocessed lean protein sources, such as chicken or minimally processed turkey burgers, can serve as a healthier centerpiece for your meal.

RELATED: 4 Best Fruits to Erase Bloating, Science Shows.

Grilled fish or seafood

Grilled prawns on wooden skewers, shrimp kebab

Swapping out red meats for lighter proteins such as fish or seafood can be a heart-healthy and weight-loss-friendly substitution.

"Seafood, in general, is light and perfect for summer meals, keeping you satisfied without feeling heavy," says Nate Osborne, CEO at Greatisfit Global Fitness. "It's high in protein, which helps keep you full and supports muscle growth, crucial for boosting your metabolism," he says, recommending cod, tilapia, shrimp, and crab.

MacPherson agrees that grilled seafood is a great summer food for weight loss and specifically recommends Mahi Mahi, "a super high-protein, lower calorie, firm fish that doesn't shrink when it's grilled or seared as a lot of fish can."

"It's perfect for grilling, adding to fish tacos, or eating with other veggies, grains, and sauces. Top it with fresh fruit salsa, such as mango habanero," she recommends.

MacPherson also notes that white fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids despite being lower in fat than a lot of other fish types. "It also contains B vitamins, which help support energy levels (which can be lacking during weight loss), potassium, iron, and magnesium, which are all crucial vitamins for active people," she says.

Grilled fruit

Sweet Homemade Baked Red Grapefruits with Honey and Thyme

Finally, MacPherson recommends grilled fruit as a weight-loss friendly summertime dessert. Peaches, pineapples, apples, and grapefruits are all popular choices.

"Grapefruits are one of my favorite fruits because they are so tasty and are actually perfect for summer grilling," she says. "You can sear them to caramelize the sugars and create a delicious low-calorie dessert. They are also great eaten fresh or tossed into green or fruit salads."

MacPherson adds that there's evidence to suggest that grapefruits help with weight loss by regulating insulin and metabolism.

"They also contain a potent flavonoid called hesperidin that is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (both of which can aid with weight loss) and has been shown to help regulate the hunger hormone leptin. Plus, they are high in fiber and low in calories to keep you feeling full," she says, noting that they can also help hydrate you on hot and humid days.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. If you have health questions or concerns, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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