We all can relate to the burden of trying to shed some pounds, trying to leave the ‘apple shape’ zone, getting to point where we can look in the mirror and just get lost in self-admiration, to that point where our confidence would be over the roof. Even though you have not directly struggled with this, you know at least one or two people that have. The truth remains that you must eat to stay healthy, and sometimes being so restrictive in your eating, or using laxatives and self-induced vomiting would not just work. Unfortunately, it would not. Actually, it is very much safer to eat appropriately than to develop an eating disorder. Hey, let’s look at the bright side. The bright side that shows that you are not mandated to follow a very strict diet before you can lose weight. There are still Nigerian foods that you enjoy so much that can assist you in your weight loss journey. You just need to cooperate with your goals. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s really amazing!
The idea behind losing weight is just utilizing more energy than you consume and it is very important that no food group is excluded from your eating routine. I am avoiding the word diet because that’s an entirely different topic and it’s not for the weak at all. For information sake, these are the five food groups that we have are: Fruits and vegetables; Carbohydrates; Milk and dairy products; Meat, fish, eggs and alternatives; Fats and oil.
Now let’s dive into Nigerian foods that aid weight loss. Let’s go!
Eggs can really help in weight loss as they contain fewer calories and are proteinaceous, hence, they keep you fuller for longer. It is already part of a standard breakfast in almost every home. Eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals, so it’s always a win-win with eggs. For the times you would prefer fried eggs or omelets, it is advisable though to not always use vegetable oils, as there are healthier choices. Stick with me.
The thing with potatoes is that it might not do so much in a long-term weight loss journey, but there is no doubt that it contains many nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Plain, baked potato with the skin on has only about 160 calories, contains fiber, vitamins and other nutrients and is naturally fat and cholesterol- free.
- Wheat bread
Consuming whole-grains is always more beneficial than consuming refined grains. Wheat bread provides more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Do not get tempted however to take too much wheat bread as it can make you gain weight overtime.
Oats will help you lose weight because it is very high in soluble fiber and it keeps you fuller for longer. It contains healthy fats that are good for cholesterol levels. You should go for plain oats rather than flavored oats because you do not want to see the effects of the additives in flavored oats.
Yes, rice. Remember we have to eat from every food group and we just cannot throw rice away. Now I mean all the types of rice you can think of. Your body needs carbohydrates for energy, brain function and lots more, so, it is very important. The hack when it comes to rice though is to be careful about how much you consume. You should eat less calories than you are able to burn for that day. You can also take rice with a delicious accompaniment of vegetables. Very satisfying.
Plantain that is unripe or slightly unripe has less sugar and contains a good amount of iron. Before you conclude that a meal of unripe plantain is not delicious, try roasted plantain with vegetable sauce. You are going to forget that the plantain is not ripe yet. It is healthy food weight loss.
Beans and other related foods are also helpful for weight loss because they contain protein, which keeps you fuller for longer. Do not overeat legumes though, I say this because carbohydrates and protein have the same amount of energy per gram (4Kcal/gram). Too much protein would still lead to weight gain, especially if you are not expending enough energy.
- Meat and Fish
These are what we refer to as ‘protein’ when we are preparing our meals. It is very good to ensure that your meat is gotten from healthy, naturally raised animals. Beef for example, from grass fed cows contains more Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which can reduce body fat and increase lean mass. Beef, Chicken, Turkey and Fish generally are high in quality protein and are good for weight loss when eaten in right proportions. One hack in eradicating unhealthy fats from chicken is removing the skin and avoiding fatty cuts.
It is important to eat vegetables every single day. A soup like Efo riro should be considered a priceless treasure because it provides loads of nutrients and it helps with cleansing of the body. Vegetables are low in calories, rich in fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals, which promote healthy body weight. You can even choose to prepare salads or juices with your vegetables for body detoxification. Good examples of these vegetables include: Spinach, Pumpkin leaves (Ugu), Broccoli, Celery, Cucumber, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Carrots, Onions, Okra and more.
Have you ever heard the saying “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Or the one that says “when in doubt, take a fruit”? Let’s just take them seriously because fruits are very important for overall health and of course, for weight loss. Fruits are extremely rich in fiber, antioxidants and they are almost impossible to eat. They are among the healthiest foods you can ever find. Feel free to make fruit salads or smoothies.
Examples of fruits you can add to your diet include: Apples, Avocado, Oranges, Bananas, Mangoes, Pineapples, Papaya, Watermelon, Beetroot, Guava and more.
- Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed with vitamin E, magnesium and many essential nutrients. Nuts have a high energy density because some of them are fats and fats have 9Kcal/gram, making it heavier than even protein. Fats keep you fuller for longer than protein would. These fats would not make you’ fat’ if you eat them moderately. Their high energy density is related to their ability to improve insulin sensitivity, lower body weight and improve overall health. Nuts and seeds are very nutritious and must be added to our diet even when trying to lose weight. Examples include: Almonds, Cashews, Pumpkin seeds, Walnuts, Peanuts and more.
Oils like Coconut oil, Olive oil, Sesame oil, Almond oil, Sunflower oil are low in saturated fats which is a plus in trying to lose weight. Using these oils and complementing them with a healthy diet can help you lose some pounds. So when you want to sauté those vegetables or fry those eggs with vegetable oil, why not use extra virgin olive oil instead.
- Herbs and Spices
Many herbs and spices we have in Nigeria have the ability to burn fat while still supplying their amazing health benefits. They include: Cinnamon, Turmeric, Ginger, Cayenne pepper, Rosemary, Garlic, Oregano, Ginseng, Black pepper, Green coffee bean extract, Mustard seeds, Cumin powder. You can add these spices in your foods as you choose but please try not to go overboard.
Teas like herbal tea, black tea, green tea can help with weight loss even though they are not magic bullets. It is much better to replace high-calorie beverages with teas because they can reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss.
Dairy is very effective is weight loss but we have to be mindful of the source. It’s amazing how these sources of calcium like low-fat yogurt (with probiotics that may help reduce how much is absorbed in your body), low-fat milk, low-fat chocolate milk and cottage cheese contain so many nutrients and are rich sources of protein and good fats that would keep you fuller for longer.
You are probably shocked about this one. This is the usual accompaniment for our delicious soups and many of them are starchy. There is a way around this, because we want to eat starchy swallow in moderation. So you might be asking “what is the way?”
The way is to modify our swallow by consuming other nutrients that would still be very enjoyable with our healthy soups. This is where we use ground oats, blended cabbage or even blended cauliflower to make our swallow. This is to ensure that we are not consuming a lot starch from Eba, Fufu, Amala, Semolina and the rest. This is not to say that you would not eat them at all. You have to eat them because you need their nutrients. It is not just appropriate to eat them a lot.
Who said Nigerian foods cannot help with weight loss? You have seen now that the statement is false. Remember the goal is to burn more than you consume and there are fat-burning Nigerian meals. Improve your physical activity if you are sedentary. Slight exercises can give even greater results. With this list, you have just read why don’t you sit, relax and enjoy these healthy and delicious Nigerian meals as your waist gets tinier and lose fat!