Your body needs fuel to exercise, and the source of that fuel is food. That's why some people report feeling hungrier when they start to work out. If you're trying to lose weight, this could be counterproductive - unless you find the right balance of healthy, filling foods.

Fill up on fibre

Avoid refined or simple carbohydrates such as white flours, rices and pastas, as well as pastries, soft drink and other sugary foods and drinks. These carbs, which lack the fibre found in complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, and veggies), are metabolised by your body quickly.

Instead, eat at least 20 grams of fibre per day from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fibre helps keep you feeling full longer - a big benefit when you're trying to lose weight. A 2009 US study demonstrated that women who ate more fibre significantly lowered their risk of gaining weight and fat.

Get enough calcium and vitamin D

Strive for three servings of calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods a day. These nutrients often occur together in foods, especially dairy.

Calcium and vitamin D work together in your body, primarily to strengthen your bones. But if the latest research is any indication, both of these nutrients may flex some muscle in your weight loss success. Dairy foods are the prime source of calcium and vitamin D in the diet. In a US study university students who came closest to meeting the three-a-day dairy requirement while eating an otherwise healthy diet weighed less, gained less, and actually lost belly fat, compared with students who consumed little or no dairy.

Embrace good fats

These include monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids, found in oils, nuts, avocados and certain fish! Eat three to four servings daily. A study published in the journal Appetite shows how these fats - besides being good for your heart - can help you feel fuller longer after meals.

The study participants with a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids (more than 1,300 milligrams a day, either from foods or from supplements) reported feeling less hungry right after their meals, as well as 2 hours later, compared with a lower omega-3 intake (less than 260 milligrams a day).

Power up on protein

Aim for three servings of lean protein (such as fish, white meat chicken and turkey, pork loin chops and lean beef sirloin) per day. In addition to being an essential nutrient, protein helps to keep you feeling full longer, which is a big benefit when you're trying to lose weight. In a small 2009 study, participants who ate a higher-protein breakfast were more satiated afterward (and took in fewer kilojoules at lunch) than those who ate a low-protein breakfast.

Stay hydrated

A number of US studies suggest that water helps promote weight loss in two ways. First, drinking more water - at least four cups per day - was linked to almost a two-kilogram weight loss over the course of a year. According to the researchers, this amount of water increases the amount of energy or kilojoules your body burns. Second, substituting water for sugary drinks – soft drinks, sports drinks, flavoured drinks, and sweetened milks, coffees and teas - resulted in even more weight loss.

Become a fan of green tea

Sip at least three cups of green tea every day. Catechins, the antioxidants found in high amounts in green tea, have been shown to be helpful in promoting weight loss, specifically belly fat. If caffeine is a concern, decaf tea is an option. Some decaffeination processes, however, can lower the antioxidant content so you might want to have an extra cup or two.

In a US study, participants who drank the equivalent of three cups of green tea a day lost twice as much weight as those not drinking tea.

© Prevention Australia