Start your morning with them, and you'll curb cravings for the rest of the day. Researchers from Wayne State University studied 30 overweight women, feeding them a breakfast with eggs, toast, and jelly one day, and, two weeks later, a bagel with cream cheese and yogurt (both meals had similar calorie counts). When the women had the protein-packed eggs instead of the bagel breakfast, they are 164 fewer calories at lunch and around 400 fewer calories over a 24-hour period. Cut that many calories a day, and it could add up to a 41-pound loss in a year.
Try to have at least three servings daily. A study from the University of Tennessee showed that dieters on a six-month program who followed a high-dairy meal plan lost nearly twice as much weight (around 24 pounds) as their nondairy-eating peers, and they shed more abdominal fat too. The researchers suspect that dairy activates fat-burning mechanisms.
Beans, lentils, veggies, and whole-grain cereals and breads take longer to digest and thus keep you satisfied longer. What's more, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed various studies and found that participants who ate whole-grain foods had lower insulin levels. Translation: They were less likely to have constant cravings, says Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at the University of Maine. "It also takes longer to chew and eat these foods, which is important because it gives your body time to register signals of fullness."
It's the most filling protein - even more so than beef! A Swedish study showed that participants who are salmon for lunch consumed 11 percent fewer calories at dinner than those who ate beef for their midday meal (both dishes had the same number of calories).