Whether you’re hitting the beach, tanning by the pool or just trying to look and feel your best this summer, it’s important to incorporate fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet. With all that sunshine comes foods that are packed with antioxidants, nutrients and water to rehydrate your long summer days.
Although eating certain foods can’t automatically prompt weight loss, replacing high-calorie foods with low-calorie ones can shift you toward burning more calories than you consume — the key to shedding extra weight. The best way to make these swaps is by choosing nutrient-dense foods (that are naturally lower in calories) to enhance your health and ensure you’re still getting all the necessary nutrients needed for your weight-loss journey.
Try adding these 10 foods to your diet this summer:
Whichever kind you prefer — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries — these summer fruits contain several important nutrients and are lower in calories than other fruits such as bananas and mangoes. Berries are high in fiber (one cup of raspberries has 8 grams of dietary fiber, which is nearly a third of the recommended intake for women and 20% of what men need in a day), which helps you feel full longer and reduces the temptation to snack between meals. Berries are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins B and C.
Recipes we recommend: Blueberry-Spinach Power Salad, Strawberry Salad Wrap, Red Berries Smoothie
Cucumbers are hydrating and just what we need in the summertime heat. With only 16 calories per cup (150g) of sliced cucumbers, they are tasty in soups, smoothies and salads. At 95% water, cucumbers are hydrating and also contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, too.
Recipes we recommend: Watermelon Cucumber Salad, Carrot-White Bean Hummus in Cucumber Boats, Cucumber Tomato Salad
Lean proteins like chicken, fish, poultry, beef and lamb are excellent for weight loss as they are loaded with amino acids, like leucine which help with maintaining lean muscle and reducing body fat. Fire up the grill this summer and enjoy skewers loaded with lean meats, veggies and even fruits.
Recipes we recommend: Thai Beef Kabobs with Garden Vegetable Sauté, Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs, Salmon Skewers with Whole Wheat Couscous
READ MORE > 8 FOODS THAT ARE SURPRISINGLY GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS
With some of the highest protein and iron levels of any vegetable, peas are a great substitute for meat that’s usually high in calories and saturated fat. If you’re excited about cooking with this vegetable but don’t know how to get started, check out these 6 Fresh Ways to Eat Your Peas.
Recipes we recommend: Asparagus and Pea Pesto Salad Pizza, Gorgeously Green Spring Pasta, Chicken & Brown Rice Bowl
Peaches are one of summer’s finest fruits, and they’re great if you’re craving something sweet. One medium peach contains 39 calories and is rich in potassium and vitamin C — it contains 15% of the daily recommended value. The antioxidant beta-carotene gives peaches their golden hue and is converted by the body into vitamin A, which aids eye health.
Recipes we recommend: Peaches ‘N Cream Smoothie, Simple Peach Crumble, Grilled Chicken, Lentil and Peach Salad
Rich in vitamin C and potassium, pineapple also has a higher sugar-to-calorie ratio than other fruits — so enjoy it slowly as it’s quick to satisfy that sweet tooth. The stem of this juicy summer fruit is also a good source of bromelain, a compound that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in the body. Pineapple is useful for more than just a sweet treat — it’s a great complement to your entrees.
Recipes we recommend: Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa, Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa
This versatile summer vegetable is as low-calorie and nutrient-dense as it gets, clocking in at only 37 calories per medium pepper with a gram of protein, 2 1/2 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of natural sugar. Looking to boost your daily intake of vegetables? Stuff ’em — peppers work with any meal.
Recipes we recommend: Breakfast Stuffed Bell Peppers, Instant Pot Low-Carb Lasagna Stuffed Peppers, Mexican Chicken Stuffed Peppers
Juicy, sweet and low in calories, tomatoes hit their peak ripeness in summer. One medium tomato contains just 32 calories with 2 grams of fiber. They’re a good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, potassium and lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect against sun damage.
Recipes we recommend: Lime Gazpacho with Feta, Strawberry and Tomato Panzanella Salad, One-Pot Farro with Sausage, Kale and Cherry Tomatoes
Containing 92% water, watermelon fills you up without weighing you down. Despite its low calorie count, it’s loaded with antioxidants such as lycopene and vitamin C, boosting your micronutrients while also keeping you hydrated. Try this for a refreshing summer treat.
Recipes we recommend: Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint, Watermelon, Grapefruit and Blackberry Salad, Watermelon Oatmeal Smoothie
Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables and can be used on the grill as a savory summer side or in a sweet baked treat, like zucchini bread. Zucchini is mild in flavor but can take on whatever seasonings or ingredients you add. One cup (150g) of sliced zucchini is low in calories (17) and carbs (3 grams) and rich in potassium, vitamins A, C and calcium.
Recipes we recommend: Gluten-Free Zucchini Pancakes with Yogurt Dressing, Double-Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips
BONUS TIPS FOR SUMMER WEIGHT LOSS
Along with adding these foods to your daily routine, keep in mind these general tips for slimming down this summer.
Stay hydrated: Dehydration can leave you feeling exhausted and hungry. Make sure to keep a cold water bottle with you at all times to prevent overeating and exhaustion. For a refreshing and more flavorful way to hydrate, add a pineapple core and mint or basil leaves to your water.
Be mindful of portion sizes: Warm summer days mean barbecues and celebrations with massive spreads of food. Start with small portions, chew slowly and let your food settle, then decide if you’re still hungry before going back for another plate.
Everything in moderation: Summer travel plans and holidays may involve sweets and treats that aren’t a usual part of your diet. Be mindful of the choices you’re making and remember the key to a sustainable weight-loss plan is consistency and moderation, not depriving yourself of everything you enjoy eating.
Originally published July 2021, updated July 2022
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