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Snack on These Foods Before Eating to Lose Weight

Snack on These Foods Before Eating to Lose Weight
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 7 min read

What you snack on before you eat can have a dramatic impact on how much you eat and your weight, just like the actual food that you eat during your meals. There are several whole foods that can help you control your appetite during meals and help you eat a lower amount of calories at each meal. Before you eat any main meal of the day you should try to start it off with a healthy salad or a serving of fruits or vegetables. It can dramatically reduce the amount of calories that you eat, and if you are trying to lose weight, it's one of the best ways to do it.

Snacking on a grapefruit can help you eat a lot less than usual

Eating just one half of a grapefruit before your meals can significantly reduce the amount of calories that you eat. A study at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego California of 100 obese people found that those who ate a half of a grapefruit before every meal had lost an average of 3.6 pounds, and some of the participants had lowered their weight by as much as 10 pounds [1]. Research shows that grapefruit lowers insulin levels which in turn reduces the amount of calories that are stored as fat when eating a meal, so it is without a question one of the best foods to start your meals with and a proven weight loss aid.

Eating kale and other leafy greens can help you eat less

Starting your meal with a salad with kale or other leafy green vegetables like spinach or Swiss chard can help you significantly reduce the number of calories that you eat. Kale and other leafy green vegetables are high in fiber and very filling, and help to control your insulin levels after you eat a meal. Leafy greens also have a wide range of side benefits like helping to protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic illnesses. So start your meal with a salad that is rich in leafy green vegetables with a light natural dressing and you'll very likely lose weight and eat a lot less.

Start your meal with an apple to eat less

Starting off your meal with an apple is another great way to control your appetite and eat smaller portions. A study found that people who ate an apple 15 minutes before their lunch consumed an average of 187 fewer calories than those who consumed apple juice, nothing, or applesauce [2]. So it's essential to eat the apple in its whole form to get the benefits, mainly because whole apples contain the maximum amount of water and fiber with the lowest amount of calories. Apples are also very low in calories and have several health benefits, and apples have just about 53 calories per serving. Because they are so convenient and readily available they're a great choice for a pre-meal snack to lose weight.

Have a serving or two of vegetable soup before your meal

Another great starter choice is vegetable soup made with low calorie ingredients. A healthy vegetable soup can help to fill you up before your meal, but the key is to make sure that your soup has 100 to 150 calories max. Soups recipes come in all different forms including several unhealthy options, so you'll have to be careful to find a good recipe that doesn't use cream, butter, or other ingredients that are going to add a bunch of calories. The water content and the fiber of most healthy vegetable soup recipes will help to fill you up before your entrée and will help to guarantee that you won't eat too many calories overall at your meal.

Eat a large healthy salad before your meals

You can be a bit flexible with the foods that you eat prior to your main meals, for example you can eat a large salad with low starch vegetables and you can include pretty much anything you want including cruciferous vegetables, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, etc. A study found that eating a large salad before a meal results in about 12% fewer calories consumed during the meal compared to when participants didn't have a meal beforehand [3]. You just have to make sure that the salad doesn't have any ingredients that can cause weight gain like croutons, high fat salad dressings, breadsticks or other ingredients that can spike your blood sugar or cause weight gain. Again stick to the total calorie limit of around 100-150 calories with your starter.

Start your meal off with an orange

Just like grapefruit, oranges are another citrus fruit that can help you lose weight with your meals. Oranges have a low number of calories per serving, as one large orange that is around 184 grams only contains 84 calories. The high fiber and water content of oranges makes them filling, but be careful to eat them whole and avoid any processed orange products like orange juice. Juice doesn't help with weight loss and can definitely cause weight gain because of the high sugar content without fiber. Whole oranges are also convenient as a pre-meal snack because of their portability like apples and grapefruit.

Add more vegetables to your meal when in doubt

If you can't start your meal off with a healthy snack, just add more vegetables to your meal to make it more filling without adding that many calories. Low starch vegetables are a great filler that can help to reduce the chance that you'll be hungry again a few hours later after eating. Some good options include bell peppers, red onions, spinach, zucchini, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and many other vegetables that go great in pasta recipes, as a side dish with most types of fish and protein recipes, and as a good filler with stews or soups.

Mix it up and do what works best for you, but there are several different options that may be a good choice for a pre-meal snack that can lower the amount of food that you eat and assist you with your weight loss goals.


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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.