“How can I lose weight?” Recently, millions of Africans are asking themselves this question. While there is an overwhelming number of diet programs online only a few are relatable to Africans. Finding the right nutritious weight loss meals can be challenging as our diet is pretty complex.
Can you Lose weight by Diet Alone?
Weight loss boils down to the number of calories consumed versus the number of calories burned off. It’s a balancing act; you gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn and you lose weight if you consume fewer calories and burn more calories.
Since losing weight depends on creating a caloric deficit, it is possible to lose weight by diet alone. You will likely lose weight if you take fewer calories than your body uses each day. It is important to note that although dietary adjustments alone can help you healthily lose weight, your progress will be slower than if you were to combine with exercise.
While being aware of your caloric intake is important, studies show that obsessively counting calories every meal is not the key to shedding off those pounds.
Paying attention to what you eat is more important than focusing on how much you eat. More important than reducing your portion sizes is skipping high-calorie items, sugary drinks, processed foods, and unhealthy fats.
The best African Meals that will help you lose weight fast.
1. Green plantain
The Main claim for green plantain to be a weight loss meal is because they are firm, high in fiber, and full of resistant starch. Most important, green plantain has more starch and less sugar than bananas.
Plantain also called green bananas is a low energy density food. One of the most efficient dietary strategies is consuming food low in energy density. Basically, energy density translates to the number of calories consumed in an amount of food. High energy density foods have more calories in smaller portions while low energy density foods have fewer calories in a lot of food. When targeting to lose weight, you need more low energy density foods such as green plantain.
Any African would tell you there are a lot of different ways to prepare green plantain. In Ghana, we have Kelewele which is spicy fried plantain, in Nigeria you have Bole, Makemba in Congo, and Matoke in Kenya. In addition, since green plantains, is so versatile, you can have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even enjoy them as your side dish or snack.
Tip: For better results, cook your plantain with less oil, fat, or sugar.
2. Lean Protein
Ours is a continent with a strong culture of meat-eating. Everyone knows that no celebration in Africa is complete without meat. But most Africans wonder whether they can still enjoy meat while trying to lose weight.
Some weight-loss diets discourage eating meat during your weight loss journey, but meat is not as bad as most people are led to believe. In fact, because of its high protein and low-calorie content, meat can be a weight loss-friendly food that provides a great source of protein and other nutrients.
So, if you love the taste of meat in your mouth, the trick is to go for lean protein. Put simply, lean meat is meat with low fat or cholesterol content. This means they have low-calorie content than meat with higher fat.
The spin on lean beef is that it is a delicious way to lose weight. opt for skinless chicken & turkey, 97% lean ground beef, goats which are quite rampant in Africa, pork chops with the fat trimmed off, and so on. Be sure to combine your lean beef recipes with fresh vegetables for better results.
In Nigeria, most meat is paired with African Yam while in Tanzania and Kenya it’s mainly paired with Ugali- a type of stiffed maize flour.
3. Brown Rice
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Africa consumes about Africa 11.5 million tonnes of rice each year. While white rice has shown to be non-favorable for weight loss, brown rice on the other hand appears to aid in weight loss.
Grains get a bad rap when it comes to maintaining a healthy body weight and losing weight because most of them are refined. And what better place to get hearty, whole grain brown rice than in Africa? Brown rice is full of fiber which helps in weight loss and boosts your metabolism.
Some of the most popular rice dishes in Africa are; Thieboudienne- the national meal of Senegal which is a combination of fish, vegetables, and rice, Thiébou yapp- Senegalese combination of rice, meat, and vegetables and Waakye in- rice and bean dish in Ghana.
4. Vegetables with Peanut Sauce
Everyone knows vegetables are good for weight loss, right? With the wide variety of healthy vegetables available in Africa, you will be spoilt for choice for a creamy favorable sauce.
Vegetables and peanuts make the best combo for weight loss. Here’s why. Peanuts are loaded with protein, healthy fats, and a variety of essential nutrients. The high protein content promotes fullness and helps you curb your appetite. Vegetables on the other hand have a lot of fiber which is known for boosting your metabolism and consequently burning more fat in your body.
Okra is a green vegetable that originated in Africa and is harvested during the warmer months of the year. For many people in other continents, okra is a strange vegetable but in Africa, it’s a go-to healthy green staple.
Okra contains several compounds that have been reported to help with weight loss. The Vegetable is easy to cook and quite versatile to add to your recipes. Okra is best known for use in soups and stews such as gumbo but you can also fry it, roast it and use it in salads.
Pumpkins are an inexpensive, filling, and versatile addition to your weight loss diet. This vegetable can be your ‘‘cheat’’ food for those days when you are really hungry, without adding a lot of calories to your diet. These round plant vegetables are low in sodium, fats, and cholesterol which makes them ideal for weight loss. A hundred grams of pumpkin contain just 26 calories. One cup of pumpkin has approximately 3 grams of fiber, which is not only important for losing weight, but also minimizes hunger pangs, reducing the urge to snack in between meals. The plant vegetable is widely used in African kitchens in various ways. The leaves are even consumed as Ugu- a sensational soup made from pumpkin leaves and smoked meat which is popular in Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana.
7. Moringa Leaves
Given the wide range of benefits that moringa provides, it’s no surprise that this wonder plant may also help people slim down. Moringa has impressive weight loss benefits due to its ability to reduce the body’s fat formation and even improves the speed at which the body breaks down fat.
The key weight loss benefit from Moringa leaves stems from the that these leaves speed up metabolism helping the body burn down calories faster (calories that otherwise might have turned into fat).
Moringa is often used to add to your food to enhance taste, but you can also boil and strain it for a highly nutritious tea or try this African Moringa Sauce.
8. African Soups
Soups are best known for helping people feel better when they feel under the weather. While Africa is full of mouth-watering, lip-smacking soups few people are actually aware of their weight loss benefits.
Melon soup (egusi)
The Nigerian Egusi Soup is loaded with healthy ingredients such as melon seeds, Ground crayfish, pumpkin leaves, and waterleaf which work wonders in reducing appetite.
The African Peanut Soup is super easy to make and easily fills your stomach to prevent late-night munching.
This is another option that will leave you feeling full for several hours due to the happy mixture of ingredients such as Jute leaves, Ground crayfish, cayenne pepper (optional), and fermented locust beans.
9. Salmon and Other Oily Fish
Oily fish also called fat fish have high contents of omega-3 fatty acids, which offer a variety of health benefits, one of which is weight loss. In fact, two of the three most important omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) are found in fatty fish like Salmon and Sardines.
In addition, these types of fish help you control your appetite by regulating the hormones that make you feel hungry and increase your metabolic rate burning more calories.
10. Cocoyam Leaves
Grown primary for their editable roots, cocoyams are a fine way to boost your weight loss journey.
Cocoyam has a low-calorie content- only 142 calories per 100g which means they make you feel full without consuming a lot of calories. As a result, Cocoyam can be a good meal addition for dieters, as one of the most difficult aspects of reducing weight is getting past hunger.
Tubers like cocoyam have been a staple in many African diets and can be made in a wide variety of ways from boiling, roasting, baking, pounding, and milling.