MANY people believe shedding the pounds involves munching on nothing more than some measly salad leaves.

However, there are actually several different foods that you can – and should – eat more of to maximise your weight loss goals.

And having a well-balanced diet is essential for blitzing body fat, especially around your stomach.

Here we talk you through the five key foods that you should be including in your diet in order to achieve your weight loss goals – an some you might be surprised by.

1. Pasta

It's time to throw out that spiralizer, pasta is back on the menu.

 Studies have also shown that people lose more weight when their diet includes pasta regularly.

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"So instead of quitting spaghetti, consider reducing portion sizes," Nutritionist Emma Beckett of the University of Newcastle wrote in The Conversation.

A portion of pasta (145g) contains a 7.7g of protein – a macronutrient which has been shown to help aid weight loss by keeping you full for longer.

Emma also suggests switching to wholegrain pasta which she says has a which has a higher fibre content which has benefits for gut health and can also help you feel fuller longer.

And the news for pasta gets even better when we eat it as leftovers.

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"When pasta is cooked and cooled, some of the carbohydrates convert to resistant starch," Emma explains.

Starch is resistant to digestion, so it uses less energy and is better for blood sugar levels.

2. Chocolate

It might sound mad, but starting your day with chocolate could help you burn fat and supercharge your weight loss.

A balanced diet means having having a little bit of what we fancy -with experts saying snaffling choc at night could also help weight loss efforts.

The study, published in the FASEB Journal could be relief for many women who want to lose weight, but don't want to give up chocolate.

In the morning eating chocolate could help with fat burn and could also reduce glucose levels in the blood, the scientists said.

At night, they said it could alter metabolism and led to more regular sleep patterns.

3. Yoghurt

With it being low in both fat and calories, yoghurt is the ideal food to add to your diet if your hoping to lose weight.

It can help improve your digestive health, and combat against any potential bloating and excessive gas through the probiotics it contains.

Meghan Markle's nutritionist even emphasised the benefits of yoghurt – admitting that she tells her clients to eat the dairy treat before every meal.

And a recent study undertaken at the University of Tennessee revealed just how good yoghurt is for blitzing belly fat.

The results revealed that participants who ate 18 ounces of yoghurt per day (as well as reducing their overall calorie intake) lost, on average, 81 per cent more belly fat compared to those who opted to diet without eating yoghurt.

It's also a great source for vitamins and minerals too, with zinc, iodine, potassium and vitamin B5 all active within yoghurt.

4. Berries

Berries are a bit of a secret weapon when it comes to achieving a slim physique.

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Research has found that going for red or blue coloured fruit – such as cherries, blueberries, blackberries and red grapes – can help you lose that unwanted belly fat.

The chemicals which give the fruit their brightly-coloured appearance can also burn stomach fat and help you get the abdominal area you’re after.

How to speed up weight loss

Dietitian Melissa Meier has offered her advice on exactly what you need to eat every day to speed up your weight loss results:

1. Five servings of vegetables

Try and have mostly the non-starchy kind. One serving is a cup (about 200g) of raw vegetables or half a cup (100g) of cooked veg.

2. Two servings of fruit

For one serving think an apple, two kiwi fruits or a cup of berries.

3. Six portions of carbs

Preferably wholegrain… one portion is equivalent to one slice of bread, half a cup of cooked rice, pasta or noodles, or a quarter of a cup of muesli.

4. Two and a half servings of protein

One serving is just 65g of cooked red meat, 80g of cooked poultry or 100g of cooked fish.

Two eggs, a tin of tuna or 170g of tofu also count as a portion.

Spreading this protein content throughout the day is recommend, too.

5. Two and a half portions of dairy or alternatives

Stick to mostly reduced-fat. One serving is one cup of milk, three quarters of a cup of yoghurt or two slices of hard cheese

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