The common thread of most weight loss diets is to focus on counting macros (carbs, protein, and fat) and using different approaches to guide food choices and control caloric intake. This logic is based on the fact that macronutrients (short for macronutrients), are the only nutrients that contain calories. Does this mean that other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, have no effect on weight loss? Not at all.
It isn’t easy to lose weight. Your body will feel the same. When you consider the many metabolic, biochemical, and physiological reactions that must take place, it is quite difficult to shed fat. Many vitamins and minerals have been shown to be beneficial in weight loss. This is because enzymes are required for most reactions. Research shows that nutrients have a stronger connection to weight than we do. However, this is not the only reason for weight loss. Focusing on key nutrients and macronutrients is the best way to lose weight.
These top nutrients are essential for weight loss. Here’s where you can find them.
More than 300 enzyme systems require magnesium to function. Research suggests that there is a direct correlation between insulin resistance, magnesium intake, and glucose regulation. High blood sugar levels can lead to fat storage, which can make insulin resistance a problem for weight loss. Research suggests that adequate magnesium intake can slow down insulin resistance, and could be a key component of a weight-loss program.
Best Sources for Magnesium ( Daily Valu is 420m)
- Peanuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts are all good options. A 1-ounce portion contains 63-80 mg
- Soymilk: One cup contains 61 mg
- Cooked spinach: One cup contains 78 mg
- Black beans and edamame are legumes that contain 50-60 mg per cup.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D intake was not a concern until about 15 years ago. Vitamin D production was thought to be sufficient in most people. Its primary function was bone health. Data today suggests that most people have insufficient vitamin D levels. Vitamin D’s role is hotly researched and considered to be a risk factor in obesity and other obesity-related diseases. Although vitamin D’s relationship to body weight is not fully understood, low levels of vitamin D can also be linked to chronic inflammation.
No matter what the mechanism may be, we could all benefit from more vitamin. Some studies even suggest that vitamin D supplementation can increase body fat loss. Vitamin D is a rare nutrient, and many health professionals recommend supplementing it to meet your daily requirements.
Best Sources for Vitamin D ( DV is 20 mg or 800 IUs for vitamin D)
- Cod liver oil: 1 Tbsp. 34 mg
- Salmon or trout: A 3-ounce portion of salmon has 14.2-16.2 mg
- UV-exposed mushrooms: A 1/2-cup serving contains 9.2 mg
- 2% milk: 1 cup contains 2.9 mcg
- Fortified plant-based milk 1 cup contains 2.5-3.6 mg
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is more often associated with weight loss because of its ability to improve immunity and prevent disease. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which makes it even more crucial for people trying to lose weight. Because even small weight increases can cause inflammation which then increases the production of free radicals. This can lead to hormonal and metabolic changes (such as insulin resistance), that may encourage weight gain.
Antioxidant needs are crucial to stop inflammatory-related weight gain. Research suggests that overweight people have greater antioxidant requirements due to higher free radical production. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that we must consume. However, data shows that most people don’t get enough of it.
The Best Sources for Vitamin C (Daily value of vitamin C is 90mg)
- Red bell pepper: A 1/2 cup serving contains 95 mg
- Orange: One medium orange contains 70 mg
- Kiwi: One medium contains 64 mg
- Broccoli cooked in 1/2 cup contains 51 mg
- Strawberry slices: A 1/2-cup serving contains 49 mg
- Boiling Brussels sprouts: A 1/2 cup serving contains 48 mg
- Grapefruit: One-half of a grapefruit contains 39 mg
Carotenoids, which include beta carotene and lutein, are a group of biologically active compounds. They give certain fruits and veggies their red, yellow, and orange colors. A study that compared phytochemical intake and body weight found that participants who ate more carotenoid-rich foods had lower body weights. In addition, the BMI increased and carotenoid intake fell. However, there were no significant differences in the calorie intake between the two groups.
It could be because people with healthy weights eat more fruits and vegetables. Researchers believe that carotenoids’ antioxidant activity may also play a role in reducing inflammation. Because systemic inflammation can be linked to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. These effects promote weight gain but not weight loss. It seems that carotenoid-rich foods may help promote weight loss and stop free radicals from triggering cancer.
The Best Sources for Carotenoids (There’s no DV for carotenoids).
- Baked sweet potato: 1 medium contains 1,403 mg
- Mashed pumpkin: One cup contains 705 mg
- Raw carrots: 1 cup contains 459 mg
- Cantaloupe: 135 mg per 1/2 cup
- Red bell pepper: Half cup contains 117 mg
- Mango: 1 medium contains 112 mcg
Red blood cells with adequate iron levels can carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells that lack iron levels or have low iron stores are unable to transport oxygen to cells, which can lead to impaired ability of cells to metabolize and use energy. When this happens, iron-deficiency myemia can develop. Common side effects include pale skin, fatigue, and sensitivity to cold temperatures. Some people may experience weight loss due to a lack of oxygen. A 2014 study found that iron supplementation can improve hemoglobin levels and reduce body weight, waist measurement, and BMI.
Anemia doesn’t always result from a deficiency of iron. Iron supplements can have side effects if taken as directed. Focus on food first. Next, consult your doctor if necessary to determine the next steps. (P.S. To increase iron absorption, you should try pairing iron-rich foods with high vitamin C foods.
The Best Iron Sources (The Daily Value of iron is 18mg)
- Fortified breakfast cereals: One serving contains 18 mg
- One cup of legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, white beans, and kidney beans has 4-8 mg
- Dark chocolate: 1 1/2 oz. Serving contains 3.5 mg
- Tofu: 1 cup contains 3 mg
- Half a cup of cooked lentils contains 3 mg
- Braised beef round: 3 Oz. 2 mg
6. Probiotics and Prebiotics
Good bacteria plays a key role in the digestion and absorption of fibers and fatty acids. Research suggests that gut health can have an impact on how effective a body is at losing excess weight. A diverse array of beneficial microbes can also help to reduce insulin resistance and weight gain.
Some research also suggests that certain strains of the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus may help with weight loss. It is important to strengthen the microbe barrier in the gut. This is crucial for your overall health and for weight loss. One of the best ways is to eat probiotics or food that contains live bacteria cultures.
The Best Foods to Get Probiotics and Prebiotics (no Daily Value or official intake recommendation).
- Nondairy and yogurt
Researchers discovered that obese and overweight people had lower zinc intakes and levels. Data now shows that low zinc diets are linked to weight gain and obesity. Although the causal relationship between zinc intake and body weight isn’t clear, it appears that increasing zinc intake can improve insulin resistance (a condition similar to magnesium that can stall weight loss) as well as regulate appetite.
Numerous studies have shown that a higher intake of zinc may result in a greater reduction in body weight and size. A recent study looked at the effects of zinc supplementation on a lower-calorie diet. The group that took zinc saw a significant weight loss, as well as a decrease in waist and hip circumferences. This study found that zinc can be found in both animal- or plant-based protein foods.
The Best Zinc Sources (The Daily Value of Zinc is 11mg)
- Oysters cooked: A 3-oz. Serving contains 74 mg
- A 3-oz. serving of cooked beef, roast, or ground meat. Serving contains 5.3-7 mg
- A 3-oz. serving of crab and lobster Serving contains 3.4 to 6.5 mg
- Fortified breakfast cereal: A serving contains 2.8 mg
- A 1-oz. serving of seeds and nuts like cashews and pumpkin seeds. Serving contains 1.6-2.25 mg