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These are 9 of the best foods for weight loss

Dr Joanna McMillan

Eat these healthy foods to achieve your weight-loss goals

A young woman wearing an apron adds prawns to a colourful salad
A young woman wearing an apron adds prawns to a colourful salad

Whether you’re looking to drop a few kilos or simply want to adopt a healthier lifestyle, taking a closer look at what you’re putting on your plate is essential. There are more diets out there than you can poke a stick at these days, and all promise fast results with minimal effort – but these rarely work in the long run. Strict rules can be hard to stick to – and by restricting entire essential food or nutrient groups, you may not be doing the right thing by your health.

A much safer, more successful and sustainable way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is by eating a balanced diet, including a wide variety of nutritious foods – and saying goodbye to saturated fat, processed foods and excess salt and sugar.

The best foods for weight loss

According to PhD qualified nutrition scientist and accredited practising dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan, the foods that help you lose weight are ones with “good satiating power” – or the ability to keep you feeling full for a longer amount of time. These, she explains, “fill you and help to keep hunger pangs at bay while also delivering lots of nutrients for not too many kilojoules.”

If you’re unsure about how this translates to your weekly shop, a good rule of thumb is to choose minimally processed foods – go for whole foods instead, Joanna suggests, such as:

  1. 1


  2. 2


  3. 3


  4. 4

    Legumes such as lentils and chickpeas (which are packed with protein)

  5. 5

    Lean meat

  6. 6


  7. 7


  8. 8

    Dairy (except butter)

  9. 9

    Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil.

Although healthy fats are a little higher in kilojoules, they are useful foods for weight loss. “Some foods with more kilojoules are also useful as they promote satiety and deliver lots of nutrition,” says Joanna, suggesting foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil to fulfil this need. Plus, they do double duty: these are not only great fat burning foods but also important for heart health.

Keep in mind, though, that there can be too much of a good thing. “You can simply eat too much of a healthy diet,” Joanna says, adding that “not everyone struggling to lose weight is eating junk food!”

To boost weight loss, you need to burn more kilojoules than you consume – regardless of what you’re eating and drinking – so keep an eye on your portion sizes.

“Portions matter for most foods,” says Joanna, “bar some fruits and veggies. You’d be hard pressed to eat too much spinach!”

A smiling woman holds a colourful bowl of salad

Foods to avoid if you want to lose weight

If the best foods to eat for weight loss are less-processed options, it makes sense that we should steer clear of ultra-processed foods, which “tend to be easy to overeat, in part because they are designed to be moreish”, says Joanna. They also “tend to be high in kilojoules and low in nutrients,” she adds, “or they simply contain too much added sugar, the wrong fats or are made from highly processed grains delivering mostly refined starch.”

As such, you’ll want to say goodbye to the following foods, which are definitely not on Joanna’s list of foods that help you lose weight:

  • Packets of chips

  • Lollies

  • Milk and white chocolate

  • Burger buns

  • Fries

  • Processed cheese

  • Sugary non-wholegrain breakfast cereals

  • Commercial pizza

  • Cakes

  • Biscuits

Ultra-processed foods tend to be easy to overeat, in part because they are designed to be moreish

Can I still drink alcohol and lose weight?

If you’re not keen to give up that glass of wine with dinner, don’t fret. It is still possible to lose weight and enjoy a drink now and then, says Joanna, provided having that bevvy doesn’t lessen your resolve to eat well or result in you eating more.

“If having a glass of wine or a beer is something you really enjoy, then factor that in and ensure you don’t also indulge in dessert or a second helping,” she suggests.

“It might even help you to lose weight as, if you enjoy your eating plan, you’ll keep it up for longer, and that means better long-term results.”

Keep in mind that the Australian Government guidelines recommend no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day, for both men and women, to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury and health issues.

Related: The effects of alcohol on your health

Ready to get healthy?

At nib, we want you to be at your healthiest. So, if you need a helping hand to manage your joint pain, weight, diabetes, heart health, anxiety or depression, you might qualify for one of our health management programs at no additional cost for eligible members*.

To find out more information, or to register your interest, visit our health management programs page.

Please note: The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.

*Available to eligible nib members who’ve held Hospital Cover for 12 months and served their relevant waiting periods. Additional criteria vary according to each program.

Dr Joanna McMillan

Dr Joanna McMillan is a PhD qualified Nutrition Scientist and Accredited Practising Dietitian, plus one of Australia's favourite and most trusted health and wellbeing experts. She is the founder of Get Lean – an online lifestyle change program – and has authored several books including Brain Food and The Feel-Good Family Food Plan, as well as her Audible original audiobook, Gutfull. Jo's favourite song to dance to is Flashdance... forgive her - she was an aerobics instructor for 15 years!