The One Food 12 Nutritionists Eat Every Day to Maintain Their Weight
Registered dietitians and nutritionists share the one healthy food they try to eat every day for weight management, plus they offer tips for healthy eating.
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What nutritionists eat for weight management
When it comes to nutrition and weight management, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Like you or me, dietitians and nutritionists follow their own diets, from a plant-based diet to a vegetarian diet. Therefore, that one healthy food a nutrition expert eats every day may differ from that of their colleagues. So, what do the smartest eaters eat to keep a healthy weight?
We spoke with 12 different registered dietitians and nutritionists from across the country who share the one healthy food they cannot live without. Did your favorite food make the list? Read on to find out and learn healthy eating tips from the experts.
Getting the inside scoop on what the smartest eaters eat is revealing. And then there are those you don’t expect: “Chia seeds are my go-to food—not only are they super versatile, they can be used on top of yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or even made into a pudding. They’re loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats making them the trifecta of nutrition. These three components make them very filling and satisfying and help to make a quick plain snack on the go, like grabbing a yogurt, a whole lot better.” —Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of B Nutritious. (Check out some more vitamin-packed foods health experts favor.)
“I love the SunGold variety (yellow inside) of the kiwi. Kiwifruit is one of the most nutritious fruits with the richest combination of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.” Research suggests kiwis are a potent superfruit: “A serving of SunGold provides as much potassium as a medium banana and three times more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C is so important because it helps support immune function and collagen production for healthy skin. It also has as much fiber as one cup of oatmeal, as much as a cup of Brussels sprouts and as much as an ounce of almonds, plus it has a low Glycemic Index and is full of water and therefore hydrating and nourishing.” —Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness. (Here are some more foods that help support immune function.)
“My superfood of choice is avocado. I eat at least a half daily whether in my morning green smoothie, in a salad, on a wrap or as guacamole with crackers, tortilla chips or vegetables. I am also known to drizzle extra virgin olive oil into the center (once pit is removed) and sprinkle the fruit with salt, crushed red pepper then dig and eat with crackers (Mary’s Gone is my crunch of choice). Avocados are packed with healthy fat—mostly the monounsaturated kind. This fiber-rich fruit boasts favorable levels of potassium, magnesium, and folate. It’s an anti-cancer powerhouse and is thought to promote a healthy heart. Win-win for me—avocados are satiating, healthy, and please my palate on every level.” —Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN, the author of What The Fork Are You Eating, and the founder of REBOOT FOOD.
Kerri Axelrod, certified integrative nutrition health coach and yoga instructor is also an avocado fan, with one caveat: “I do recommend being mindful of portion sizes—avocados are very nutrient dense so I recommend savoring in moderation.”
“Hands down my favorite food is Greek 2 percent yogurt. It’s my go-to breakfast, post workout protein rich snack, and often satisfies a sweet craving. I love it because it’s filling and packed with protein, which helps keep me feel full longer. In addition, studies have shown that eating protein throughout the day helps your body better utilize it, especially as you get older. I prefer the 2 percent versus fat-free because some fat is needed for satiety value, it enhances nutrient absorption … plus it tastes better! One seven ounce container of 2 percent Fage Greek Yogurt also contains live active cultures of probiotics, which are important for gut health. My favorites add-ins are chia seeds (rich in fiber and plant-based omega 3 fats), blueberries, frozen cherries, or pomegranate seeds (all good sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants) along with cacao nibs (rich in magnesium—important for blood sugar control, and heart health.” —Martha McKittrick, RD, CDE. (Here are some more of the absolute healthiest foods you can get at the supermarket.)
“One food that I almost always have in my fridge is homemade hummus. I don’t always make it the traditional way though. I usually begin with chickpeas and include tahini or almond butter, lemon, and garlic. I enjoy it well beyond just as a dip for pita; it’s a versatile nutrient-rich ingredient swap. Smear it onto a sandwich as a scrumptious condiment in place of mayo. Spread it onto your breakfast toast or bagel in lieu of butter or cream cheese. Stir some into marinara or other sauce rather than relying on heavy cream for creaminess. Try it on tacos or burritos instead of dolloping them with sour cream. Whisk hummus with white wine vinegar and black pepper to make a velvety salad dressing in place of ranch dressing. And, of course, dip fresh seasonal veggies into hummus for an instant snack or party fix.
Hummus provides that ideal duo of dietary fiber and protein to provide satiety—while helping you easily sneak more plant protein into your eating routine.” —Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. (Here are some of the best tips for diabetic snacking.)
“Watermelon is a go-to for me, especially in the summer months. Watermelon is great for replenishing potassium and rehydrating. If you don’t want to eat the fruit plain you can opt for a drink like Evolution Fresh Cold-Pressed Watermelon Juice or try a watermelon popsicle. Simply fill popsicle molds with watermelon juice, add a sprinkle of chia seeds to mimic the look of watermelon seeds (while loading up on fiber and protein). Freeze until solid.” —Chris Mohr, PhD, RD and fitness expert
“They’re a daily must for health and weight maintenance. In fact, I try to incorporate a serving of leafy greens with every meal! They provide more essential vitamins and minerals per calorie than just about any food. They’re great sources of vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folate, choline, vitamin C, vitamin E vitamin K, boron, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, and potassium. Leafy greens are also great sources of a variety of antioxidant phytochemicals, including carotenoids, flavonoids, plant sterols and stanols, and polyphenols. While all vegetables reduce risk of chronic disease (including obesity), leafy greens boast some impressive stats above and beyond other veggies. For example, for every 1/3 cup or so of leafy greens every day, you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 percent. I try to mix it up, so I include arugula, beet greens, bok choy, carrot tops, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, fresh herbs, kale, all varieties of lettuce, mustard greens, napa cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and watercress. I eat them raw, steamed, braised, in soups, in salads and in smoothies! I even sneak them into my kids’ diets by blending mild greens like spinach and lettuce with frozen banana, cocoa powder and water to make a nutrient-packed chocolate smoothie that my kids devour!” —Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, and author of Paleo Principles
My go-to snacks are “F-Factor “Pizzas” —I eat them almost every day, as do my clients. In fact, when a client comes in for their education session, we prepare the pizzas for them. They’re made by topping high-fiber crackers with low-fat cottage cheese or mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt-free seasoning. Microwaved for two minutes or bake until the cheese is melted. The combination that makes this magical: fiber and protein. Clinical evidence shows that fiber and protein have a high satiety benefit in calorie-controlled diets and in weight reduction. Fiber, specifically, is essential as it allows you to eat the carbohydrates necessary for energy without gaining weight. You can add turkey pepperoni or veggies—these pizzas can be customized to an individual’s tastes and nutrient needs.” —Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD and founder of F-Factor Diet. (Here are some more superfoods that can help you manage your weight.)
“I’m a huge fan of KIND’s Sweet & Spicy Bars, and I eat them pretty much daily! I’m often on the go, so I always keep one in my purse for when mid-day hunger strikes. My current favorite flavor in the line is Korean Chili—with almonds, pumpkin seeds, and other ingredients jazzed up with a spicy, exotic kick. It’s 230 calories, the perfect amount for a mid-day snack. I like that the bar is a good source of protein and fiber, while also providing healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. This magic combo of nutrients offers staying power, keeping me fuller for longer so I don’t continue snacking all afternoon. You also get an array of several vitamins and minerals, including bone-building calcium as well as magnesium, which may help regulate blood pressure. In addition to eating the bars on the go, I incorporate them into my meals at home—one of my favorite ways to do so is crumbling a bar and using it as a nutritious and filling salad topper in place of croutons.” —Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition
“I regularly drink Juice Press’ Fountain of Youth smoothie, a blend of strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, banana, and hemp protein. The flavorful smoothie contains 470 milligrams of potassium and 5 grams of protein, keeping my blood sugar levels stable and providing me with an energy boost. I’m also a fan of Juice Press’s Doctor Green juice, which has a tasty combination of fruits and vegetables, including red apple, kale, pineapple, lemon, and ginger. The cold-pressed juice is a great source for your daily vitamins and nutrients, containing high amounts of both Vitamin A and Vitamin C. In general, fresh juices and smoothies are perfect for busy people on-the-go, and they are great supplements to anyone’s daily diet, as you can drink them on an empty stomach and the vitamins and minerals are quickly absorbed in your bloodstream.” —Fred Bisci, PhD, clinical nutritionist and mentor to Juice Press’s founder, Marcus Antebi. (Do you know the seven tricks to making a healthy smoothie?)
The Fab Four
“The best way to hit your goals is to balance glucose (carbohydrates) by loading up on what I call the ‘Fab Four’ at every meal: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. Fab Four meals turn off hunger hormones, squelch inflammation, and provide the body with the perfect complete meal of essential nutrients. Simply look at your plate and ask yourself do I have all four components? An easy way to start is with a daily Fab Four Smoothie. For example, start with a chocolate collagen protein, almond butter, and flaxseed smoothie, sneak in a handful of spinach you won’t even taste it! Another option is vanilla pea protein, avocado, chia cucumber, spinach, and a squeeze of lemon.” —Kelly LeVeque, celebrity nutritionist and author of Body Love
“One food I enjoy almost every day is cottage cheese. This retro food is making a comeback! Cottage cheese is high in protein, low in sugar, and under 100 calories per serving. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, keeps me feeling fuller longer, and is extremely versatile. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are often found talking about their love of cottage cheese, and for good reason. High-quality protein is necessary to optimize and maintain lean muscle mass, as we gradually lose muscle mass as we age. The amino acid leucine, found in cottage cheese, acts as an igniter to spark the synthesis of muscle mass in your body. You can enjoy cottage cheese sweet or savory—my favorite savory dish is cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes, basil, pepper, and balsamic glaze. You can also add cottage cheese to your smoothies. Note, however, that not all cottage cheese is alike. I always recommend reading the food labels. I choose brands with the fewest ingredients. My favorite includes only three ingredients: cultured skim milk, cream, and salt.” —Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN. (Next, check out some more healthy snacks that are totally nutritionist-approved.)
- Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of B Nutritious
- Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness
- Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN, the author of What The Fork Are You Eating, and the founder of REBOOT FOOD
- Kerri Axelrod, certified integrative nutrition health coach and yoga instructor
- Martha McKittrick, RD, CDE
- Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook
- Chris Mohr, PhD, RD and fitness expert
- Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, and author of Paleo Principles
- Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD and founder of F-Factor Diet
- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition
- Fred Bisci, PhD, clinical nutritionist and mentor to Juice Press's founder, Marcus Antebi
- Kelly LeVeque, celebrity nutritionist and author of Body Love
- Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN