Summer Foods to Beat the Heat and Help with Weight Loss

by Marixie Ann Obsioma, MT, undergrad MD on August 3, 2022
Last updated on August 13, 2022

The summer is a time for a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables that just simply taste better and sweeter when they are in season. Here’s a list of summer foods that will beat the heat and are at the same time, lower in calories to keep you within your calorie restrictions so you can shed off those pounds that you accumulated during the winter.

Summer Foods to Beat the Heat and Shed Your Winter and Spring Weight

Chilled Soups

No better way to beat the summer heat, than to stay hydrated and satiated to avoid overeating by partaking in some chilled soups. Often vegetable-based, chilled soups contain lots of fiber — a macronutrient that’s shown. (1)

to reduce appetite and total calorie intake, promoting weight loss over time. They are very filling and very nutritious.  Because soup is largely made up of calorie-free water, you can consume a large serving — which takes up room in your belly — for a reasonable number of calories. Some classic great chilled soups are Gazpacho and Salmorejo. Both are low-calorie, very filling, and refreshing. You can also try a watermelon gazpacho for a different take.

Portobello Mushrooms

This summer means grilling and barbecues. A great choice for grillers who are conscious of the number of calories that meat contains is the portobello mushroom. This mushroom is a flavorful, low-fat substitute for meat that pairs well with heart-healthy ingredients like garlic and olive oil, the portobello is as good for your taste buds as it is for your waistline. Researchers have found portobello mushrooms effective at stabilizing female test subjects’ blood sugar and minimizing insulin spikes, staving off cravings, and keeping those unwanted pounds at bay. (2)

They are easy to prepare, just cut off the tops, drizzle with some olive oil and add some fresh parsley, salt, and pepper and drop them onto the grill. They are impossible to overcook but can still burn.

They are so delicious you won’t even miss the meat.

Ceviche

Ceviche is a great choice for those hot summer nights when you want a quick and easy meal but are trying to ignore the lure of takeout menus lurking in your kitchen drawer. You can combine citrus flavors with omega-3-rich fish like tuna, mackerel, or salmon, which helps you feel full while fighting inflammation and reducing your risk of heart disease, is a low-calorie way to satisfy your hunger. Even better, studies suggest the spicy peppers and lime juice used to flavor this popular Latin American dish can help you slim down. Research reveals that capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their spice, helps overweight subjects lose significantly more fat after the study ended than those offered a placebo. (3)

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are such a light, refreshing, and versatile vegetable that can have so many applications. They contain mostly water and fiber and add a great flavor to any drink or dish. It can be used in nearly every food application, as a drink, as an appetizer, as salad, as a dip, or even as a side dish.

As a drink, you can dice them and add them to a pitcher of water, squeeze half a lemon, and refrigerate to make the coolest, most sugar-free, and refreshing Cucumber-Lemon water that will keep you hydrated and make you keep wanting to drink more.

Mix it in with fruit shakes to create a complexity of flavor to green shakes or sweeter watermelon or mango shakes.

Using it in salads, with a light dressing of salt, pepper, some onions and even a pinch of sugar can yield a chilled summer salad that is as refreshing as it is healthy.

Tzatziki is a very healthy and refreshing dip that really makes use of cucumber, dill, and yogurt. The refreshing Greek take on dip adds great flavor to vegetable chips. You can dip carrot sticks or any other kind of snack.

Extra cucumbers can always be pickled, you can pickle them and keep them usable for a long period of time. Italians have giardiniera, a kind of Italian pickle mix which can be used as a side dish or even as an afternoon snack.

It is certainly worth taking advantage of cucumbers being in season because not only are they versatile and can be kept for a while in the refrigerator but they can also be pickled in different ways. Incorporating it into your diet can benefit your gut biome with the probiotics in the pickling and fermentation process. When eaten fresh, they have fiber and can keep you satiated without being too calorically dense. At 95% water, cucumbers are hydrating and also contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, too.

Make cucumbers part of your summer menu to stay refreshed. Super-hydrating cucumber is low in calories, loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants, and can even reduce your risk of hypertension. Researchers in Indonesia discovered a significant reduction in blood pressure among elderly women whose diets were supplemented with cucumber juice. This suggests that cucumber juice can also help you live longer. (4)

Watermelon

This summer staple contains the kind of fiber (5) that binds with and carries fat out of your system. But it gets better: Watermelon also contains a high percentage of water, which helps keep you hydrated and thus can increase your overall calorie expenditure, according to several studies. (6)Watermelons are mostly made up of water and fiber. This makes this food low in calories and also helps you in maintaining a good water intake. Both of these factors help burn fat faster. The fiber in the watermelon is satiating so you are less prone to overeating, thus saving some calories if you eat intuitively. Watermelon goes well with a variety of fruits, including strawberries, bananas, and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. You can mix watermelon with other fruits to make great smoothies. The more frozen fruit you add, the thicker the smoothie will be. Watermelon goes really great with strawberries.

In addition to its uses as a desert or cool snack, Watermelons can also be used for soups like in Watermelon gazpacho or cold watermelon soup is a fast and easy way to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, and it is the perfect cold lunch or dinner soup for a hot summer day. And the soup isn’t cooked, so it’s a pretty low-effort way to have a great lunch.

Cantaloupe

After watermelons, Cantaloupes are a great summer fruit that can serve a lot of people. Cantaloupe is not at the top of the mind of most consumers when it comes to must-buy fruits. But it might be time to change that. Research into the fruit seems to have yielded that the unpopular variant of musk melon is a particularly good diet choice. It has Beta-carotene, even having more content than mangoes, peaches, oranges, Vitamin C, Folate, Fiber, and Potassium as well as trace amounts of different vitamins and minerals. Cantaloupe can be served as a smoothie, salad, sorbet, and even roasted!

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are low in calories, and rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants. Bell peppers are mostly made up of water and carbohydrates with a majority of carbohydrates coming from glucose and fructose. They also provide a decent source of fiber and are loaded with vitamins and minerals, vitamins, and a variety of plant compounds. These plant compounds and antioxidants are helpful in a variety of ways such as helping prevent chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. It also helps in improving eye health and reducing the risk of anemia.  Each regular-sized bell pepper contains around 37 calories. (7) Not only are they nutritious but they are very versatile as well. They taste almost sweet if you wrap them in foil and allow them to cook and steam in their own water. They taste beautiful when grilled and used as a side. You can stuff them with mushrooms, cheese, and other vegetables as well.

Celery

As a popular diet food, celery has always been a modern favorite as it is considered to be a low-calorie diet snack, the crispy and crunchy celery’s reputation is well earned. Just in case you need a quick refresher, here are some of their best features. It’s a great source of antioxidants, reduces inflammation, supports digestion, and is rich in vitamins and minerals with a low glycemic index. Don’t forget that when buying celery, look for ones with sturdy stalks and crisp leaves, best to eat them within five to seven days to ensure nutritional value.  (8)

Salsa

Whip up a fresh batch of salsa for dips. Salsa is always refreshing as a dip and it is a combination of onions, peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, and citrus juices. It is rich in lycopene.  There are several other conditions that are positively affected by lycopene. These conditions include gingivitis, osteoporosis, mental disorders, and asthma. (9) Research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health reveals that lycopene, a pigment that gives tomatoes their distinctive hue, can lower stroke risk by up to 55 percent. (10)

Grapes

They are a  great sweet and energizing snack that has a number of other benefits outside of its low-calorie count.  If you are trying to eat healthier foods, remember that each grape you eat is a piece of candy that you didn’t. Thinking this way really helps motivate those who struggle with overeating or make less healthy food choices or tend to indulge themselves by way of sweets. (11)

Resveratrol is best known as a beneficial compound in red wine, but it’s also found in red and purple grapes. Another study, published in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (12) in 2015, found that resveratrol might help insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. That might be important for weight loss since insulin is tasked with controlling your blood sugar levels. When your body can’t respond to insulin appropriately, you’re more likely to experience blood sugar spikes and crashes that leave you hungry.

Grapes are a great substitute for sweets. It is a quick, easy and healthy way to satisfy sweet cravings as long as you do not over consume it. Freeze them and eat them as a snack. Or blend them together with other fruits as a frozen fruit shake or refreshing juice.

Cherries

Like grapes, Cherries are loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant that packs some serious body-transforming powers. Like grapes, the high doses of resveratrol were able to convert the excess white fat on their bodies into brown fat, which can increase metabolism and help you burn more calories. (13) Cherries are great to top off desserts or just fresh. They are great eaten cold and they taste so good and refreshing on a sunny day.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a great flavor-giving ingredient and has a component called cinnamaldehyde  (14)

which has been proven to prevent weight gain and also helps the body in burning fat cells. It can be used in Horchata, a Mexican rice-based drink that is served as a refreshing drink all throughout Mexico. Cinnamon has many applications, mostly relating to dessert. So you don’t have to be stuck eating cinnamon rolls, there are many other ways to use it as a flavoring.

Berries

Whichever kind you prefer — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries. 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 (15), 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. Berries are great in shakes, juices or just eaten raw. They are great after being refrigerated to provide a nice cool snack to cool you down.

Zucchini

This salad staple is packed with riboflavin, a B vitamin that’s needed for the production of red blood cells and to convert carbohydrates to energy. You burn your calories faster. You can also slice them thinly, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and slap them on the grill to make a great side dish for grilled fish or meat. It is very filling and quite delicious. You can bake them and make some ratatouille. Scoop out the flesh to make a little Zucchini Pizza boats or make zucchini pasta. They are flexible and can substitute for more carbohydrate-based ingredients like bread and pasta.

Yogurt

Yogurt is packed with good bacteria that have a lot of health benefits and can also have a lot of benefits to digestion. Yogurt can be your go-to snack in summer, they are easy to find and easy to incorporate into your diet. Yogurt is loaded with calcium, protein, and vitamins, yogurt is also good for you during the hot summer months. Research suggests that probiotics may help protect against weight gain. You can have it on its own or add it to cucumbers to make Tzatziki or mix in some frozen fruits to make a nice refreshing and healthy dessert. Mix it in with fruits and berries for a great refreshing fruit shake.

Cottage Cheese

Cheese is surprising to see in lists of low calories. It is low fat and high in protein. It is also very flavorful. A cold cup of cottage cheese smeared over some toasted bread and cherry tomatoes is a perfect summer snack. Just make sure to practice portion control as it is quite easy to underestimate the amount you are using or consuming. (16) Even though it is a kind of cheese, it is very low in calories at Calories: 82 per 1/2 cup (114 grams) (17) So it can satisfy your cravings for creamy or cheesy food. Losing weight is not just about the food that you eat, it is also about the food that you refrain from eating and if eating cottage cheese will keep you from having more calorie-dense cheeses then it still counts as a win in the calories saved column.

Summertime is definitely a great time to spend outdoors and all these fantastic ingredients can be used in food that will keep you from feeling the heat and help you remain fresh but also keep those calories low. Summer food doesn’t have to be fatty and greasy. It can be cool, refreshing, energizing, and best of all, low-calorie.

References

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