Losing weight not only takes some serious commitment but also a great deal of patience when it comes to sifting through information about how to do it properly. After all, every year seems to bring a few new fad diets that appear to encourage weight loss but aren't healthy and sustainable in the long run.
While these food pairings are not the magic key to losing weight, they do have health benefits that could help make your diet and exercise plans easier.
Banana and peanut or almond butter
Although Elvis proved that it's possible to eat this pairing in excess, it can prove healthier than his infamous consumption of the combination might suggest.
According to dietitian Alissa Rumsey, the fiber found in bananas can benefit weight loss efforts by making the body feel fuller, which is also the job of the nut butter you would pair it with. So while it's not healthy to eat too much of this pairing, you likely won't want to if it's doing its job.
Chicken and cayenne pepper
The weight loss benefits of both of these foods can be a little overblown, leading some to base entire diets around them. But eating just one or two foods all the time is simply not sustainable.
Nonetheless, a 2014 study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that protein-grilled chicken breasts not only help the body feel full but provide more energy to help the body burn fat during exercise. A 2017 study in Bioscience Reports found that the capsaicin in cayenne pepper also helps the body feel full, so it's a handy way to flavor that chicken.
Oatmeal and walnuts
It may not be the most exciting food in the world, but gastroenterologist Chaim Ross of NYU Langone at Great Neck Medical names it as a great agent for appetite control without causing spikes in blood sugar or insulin levels.
And since a 2017 study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism identified walnuts as activating brain regions involved in appetite and impulse control, they make a great teammate with oatmeal.
Spinach and lemon juice
Dietitian Jenny Champion identified spinach as a great vegetable to encourage weight loss due to its low-calorie count, low carbohydrate levels, and high fiber content. Not only does it help you feel full, but it's very lean while doing it.
And while dietitian Toby Amidor warns that lemon juice isn't the fat-burning juggernaut that its hype would suggest, it remains a good and low-calorie source of helpful antioxidants. So it's not like it hurts.
Chickpeas and spaghetti squash
Not only do these tastes pair well, but they can help your body in similar ways when they work together. Not only does dietitian Emily Wunder identify them as a great source of zinc (which helps strengthen the immune system), but they're also a substantial source of appetite-suppressing protein.
And since fiber fills a similar role in a weight loss journey, it's a good idea to pair the beans with spaghetti squash as dietitian Shahzadi Devje identified this as a low-calorie and low-fat source of it.
Tuna and ginger
It's common to flavor tuna with ginger, which could be good news for our bodies. Dietitian Lauren Manaker mentioned tuna as an excellent source of hunger-suppressing protein without many saturated fats but cautions watching out for sodium and mercury levels in canned variants.
As for ginger, a 2019 meta-analysis in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that it showed some promising effects in body weight reduction and hip-to-waist ratio but made little difference in BMI, insulin levels, and certain cholesterol levels.
Potatoes and pepper
Although low-carb advocates tend to shun white potatoes, a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that boiled potatoes had the highest satiety index out of the 38 foods examined. That means they're hard to beat for making you feel full.
And while Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Michael Jensen has warned that black pepper's fat-smashing reputation is pretty misleading, some research suggests it could have a little appetite-suppressing effect of its own thanks to the piperine in it.
Coffee and cinnamon
We don't tend to think of coffee as being particularly healthy, but there's some evidence that it can be when you mix it with cinnamon and otherwise leave it black. According to dietitian Ashley Shaw, this is because it's low in calories and because the caffeine boosts metabolism (and thus burns more calories) while possibly suppressing appetite.
And a 2017 study in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental found that the flavoring compound in cinnamon (called cinnamaldehyde) can influence fat cells to burn energy and also affect metabolism.
Unprocessed beef and broccoli
The word "unprocessed" is doing a lot of heavy lifting here, but it's this part of modern beef consumption that gives it its unhealthy reputation rather than the meat itself. Indeed, a 2022 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the protein in beef can be helpful during a weight loss journey even when consumed in varying quantities.
And while broccoli is considered a great addition to a diet for many reasons, Atlanta-based culinary dietitian Marisa Moore specifically mentioned how helpful its fiber content is for controlling appetite.
Eggs and black beans
Although the healthiness of eggs has long been debated due to their cholesterol levels, a 2018 study in the Cholesterol journal confirmed that they're second only to breast milk for high-quality protein, which makes us feel fuller.
And since dietitian and UCI Health Weight Management Program director Katie Rankell identified black beans as good sources of protein and fiber, they'll likely strengthen that effect.
Eggs and bell peppers
Since that study in the Cholesterol journal's last year of publication made it clear just how loaded eggs are with quality proteins, it's hardly surprising that there would be a few pairings that might make it work for a weight loss journey.
And according to dietitian Trista Best, one of those pairings involves incorporating some bell peppers. That's because they're packed with nutrients but not calories. And like eggs, they have a way of making you feel full.
Green tea and lemon juice
Unfortunately, both of these ingredients can be a little overhyped as to how much they can aid a weight loss journey. However, it wouldn't necessarily be fair to say they do nothing.
Dietitian Stefani Sassos said the caffeine in green tea could indirectly burn calories by boosting the body's metabolism. But it's also valuable because it doesn't have any sugar. This makes lemon juice a healthy way to flavor green tea due to the low calories dietitian Toby Amidor identified in it.
Honeydew melons and grapes
This pairing's benefit to a weight loss plan comes down to one little word: Fibre. According to the University of Arkansas' Division of Agricultural Research, honeydew melons and cantaloupes are both rich in fiber.
And while dietitian Jill Corleone said grapes aren't necessarily the richest fruits in fiber, they do still contain enough to help control appetites while not being loaded with calories.
Almonds and pistachios
According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, balanced diets that included almonds were found to encourage greater weight loss and fewer cardiovascular risk factors than similar diets that didn't. The study also noted that almonds have more fiber and protein than most other nuts.
That may sound like we don't really need the pistachios in this pairing, but a 2020 study in the Nutrients journal observed similar effects from this nut, most notably when it came to replacing unhealthier snacks.
Avocados and leafy greens like spinach or kale
According to a 2021 article in the journal Nutrients, avocados are not only a low-carb and low-sodium way to get some essential nutrients, but they can even make it easier for the body to absorb properties from other vegetables due to its high concentration of oleic acid.
The study's authors found that to be true whether the avocados were in a salad or a salsa, so a kale or spinach salad could only benefit from including them.
Salmon and sweet potatoes
Fish are generally lauded for being high in protein while low in fat. Still, salmon was found to be a powerhouse even by those standards in a 2010 study published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Not only did it help weight loss like other fish, but it also made adjusting to a stricter diet plan easier on the body than other fish.
As for sweet potatoes, culinary dietician Marisa Moore said they have more fiber than even white potatoes and will really fill you up if you roast them with the skin still on.
Yogurt and raspberries
According to dietitian Maggie Michalczyk, yogurt's power in a weight loss journey comes from its high protein content and subsequent ease of feeling sated after eating. Just watch for brands that add sugar or skimp on protein.
Meanwhile, a 2017 study at Oregon State University found promising weight-loss benefits for raspberries. This is due to components that help the body process fats and sugars, and due to being rich in fiber, they are even when compared to other fruits.
Beef and mushrooms
Beef's protein often leaves us feeling satisfied when we're done eating it, and that's what a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition identified as the reason why unprocessed beef can be helpful while trying to lose weight.
And judging by a 2018 study in the journal Molecules, mushrooms may be even more effective for this purpose because they're low in calories, cholesterol, and sodium while also being in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Cauliflower and extra virgin olive oil
You've likely heard how helpful cauliflower can be during an attempt at weight loss, and according to New York dietitian Gena Hamshaw, there are a lot of reasons why. Its calorie count is low, it's loaded with water and vitamins, and it's a good source of dietary fiber.
As for olive oil, a 2018 study published in The European Journal of Nutrition found that this specific kind of olive oil both reduced body fat and improved blood pressure for the controlled trial's participants.
Pistachios and apples
A 2020 study in Nutrients found pistachios to have an encouraging effect on weight loss, particularly in terms of displacing other snacks that may get in the way of a weight loss journey.
And while a 2018 meta-analysis in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that more research needs to be done into how effective apples are for weight loss, it also cited why they're likely to help due to the nutrients they contain. For one, apples are high in dietary fiber, which can make us feel fuller.
Cod fish and whole wheat tortillas
Dietitian Grace DeRocha identified cod as one of the healthier types of whitefish due to its low fat and high protein content. It's also known for its milder taste, so it's a decent option if you don't like tuna or salmon.
And while the fiber in a whole wheat tortilla makes for a good one-two punch to unwanted fat if you're in the mood for fish tacos, dietitian Karen Collins advises carefully checking as to whether the tortillas are made from whole wheat. That's because even the so-called "spinach" or "tomato" tortillas usually aren't.
Beans and corn
Whether it's the chickpeas touted by dietitian Emily Wunder for their zinc and protein content or the black beans extolled by dietitian Katie Rankell for their protein and fiber, you're likely to find a lot of friends among the bean family if you're trying to lose weight.
But considering how starchy corn can be, one might expect it not to help at all. But according to Dr. Pakhi Sharma, it's also loaded with fiber and protein. So if you eat beans and corn together, it likely won't take long before you feel full.
Pumpkin seeds and leafy greens
According to dietitian Lauren Manganiello, leafy greens like kale tend to be high in fiber, vitamins C and K, and antioxidants. Better yet, it's high in fiber while being low in calories, making it a reliable weight-loss buddy.
But to help manage that appetite even more, you can sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on that salad because Dr. Dan Brennan identified them as a rich source of protein. Be careful to limit your serving to a few, however, as they're also high in calories.
Greek yogurt and sweet potatoes
If you're looking to lose weight, dietitian Maggie Michalczyk mentioned that Greek yogurt might help you even more than the regular stuff because it's richer in protein and, thus, better at keeping the cravings away.
And since culinary dietitian Marisa Moore said that sweet potatoes have even more fiber than white potatoes, this combination really puts the best versions of two major appetite suppressors together.
Carrots and Hummus
As dietitian Elizabeth Somer said, "A pound of carrots will fill you up, with only a smattering of calories -- or you can have a pound of a cheeseburger, and you'll gain weight faster than you can jump on a scale."
And with that in mind, it's hard to make a better pairing with carrots than hummus. That's because Atlanta dietitian Jerlyn Jones identified it as a great way to get protein, fiber, and a wide world of other important nutrients.
Yogurt and cinnamon
Dietitian Maggie Michalczyk has mentioned how nice and satisfying a protein-rich yogurt can make you feel (especially if it's Greek yogurt), but sometimes it's good to mix up the flavors a little.
And since a 2018 study in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental found that cinnamon's main flavoring compound can boost our metabolism and influence fat cells to release their energy, it's hard to ask for a better teammate than that.
Bananas and spinach
While this isn't the fruit and vegetable pairing most of us would think of, it might reach that status depending on how your journey goes.
And that's because dietitian Alissa Rumsey cites bananas as containing a lot of fiber, which is also true of spinach, according to another dietitian named Jenny Champion. So if you chow down on these two, you'll likely feel pretty full despite not actually eating all that much,
Fish and garlic
Dietitians like Grace DeRocha and Lauren Manaker agree that many fish species, such as tuna, cod, and salmon, are low in fat while containing a lot of protein. As such, it's hardly surprising that fish tends to be a staple of diets intended to produce weight loss.
But if you're hoping to help by flavoring that fish with garlic, it seems to depend on what you hope to achieve. Because while a 2021 meta-analysis in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research found garlic could reduce waist circumference, it didn't seem to affect body weight and BMI.
Dark chocolate and almonds
Just like Mary Poppins credited a spoonful of sugar for helping the medicine go down, a small amount of dark chocolate can help manage our cravings for sweets in a relatively healthy way.
And according to dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, that's especially true if you mix it with unsalted nuts (especially almonds) and dried fruit. In her words, "This crunchy, chewy, decadent trio will add protein and healthy fat to the mix to satisfy and squash your cravings while the chocolate will be decadently delish without being excessive."
Dark chocolate and strawberries
While dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix suggested that a little dark chocolate could help control cravings when mixed with nuts and dried fruit, there's a simpler combination that could be just as effective.
Because when you pair that chocolate with strawberries instead, you unlock the powers of a fruit that Dr. Leo Galland described as reducing the inflammation that keeps certain hormones from otherwise slimming us down. Strawberries also help produce a hormone called adiponectin, which enhances metabolism and suppresses appetites.