50 Best African Foods for Weight Loss

50 African Foods to help you lose weight and keep it off

Weight loss in Africa is a difficult task because of the carbohydrate-rich nature of African foods.

Even though the continent is filled with many diverse healthy foods, it takes some effort and maybe even a little trial and error to find the right weight loss foods.

While no one food magically melts the fat off, eating low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods can help. 

From experience, we have rounded up 50 best African foods that will fasten your weight loss and give you your dream shape.

50 African Foods to Lose Weight Quickly

1-11. Fruits

1. Lemon

Lemon is an incredibly healthy fruit in a low-calorie package. The juice of one lemon contains about 12 calories.

One study revealed that lemon polyphenols suppressed body weight gain and fat accumulation [1]

Lemons are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

2. Apple

Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and numerous antioxidants. One apple contains about 72 calories.

Because of their high fiber content, apples are very filling and make the perfect snack if you find yourself hungry between meals.

3. African star apple (Udara)

50 foods to lose weight quickly and keep it off

This fruit is rich in fiber, vitamin C, and numerous antioxidants. One serving of this delicious fruit contains about 67 calories.

They are very filling and can be used as a snack especially during pregnancy.

Related: 8 Impressive health benefits and uses of African star apple

4. Grapefruit

Grapefruit is highly nutritious. It is rich in antioxidants and fiber. Half a fresh grapefruit contains about 52 calories.

In a 12- week study on 91 obese individuals, eating half a fresh grapefruit before meals lead to a weight loss of 1.6kg [2]

5. Cantaloupe (Spansek)

At 54 calories and no fat per 1 cup (160 grams) serving, adding cantaloupe to your diet is a smart way to get nutrients and sweetness into your healthy eating plan.

It can be eaten as a snack or added to salads.

6. Watermelon 

Watermelon is one of the best fruits to eat for quick weight loss. It contains 90% water and 30 calories per 100 grams.

This fruit will help you feel full, eat less, and stay hydrated. It also contains an amino acid called arginine that helps you burn fat quickly.  

7. Papaya

Papaya is incredibly nutrient-dense. One cup of cubed papaya contains 60 calories with 3 grams of fiber.

A study showed that papaya extract could reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in rats fed with a high-fat cafeteria diet. [3]

8. Baobab fruit 

Baobab fruit is a great fruit to lose weight fast. Both the fresh and powdered form of the baobab fruit is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants. Also, two tablespoons of powdered baobab contain about 50 calories.

One study in 20 people shows that drinking a smoothie with 15 grams of baobab extract significantly reduced feelings of hunger. [4]

9. Avocado

Avocado is a wonderful fruit to help you lose weight. It contains healthy fats, water, and lots of fiber.

You can add it to salads, or eat them as snacks. But remember to eat in moderation.

10. Tomato

Tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. It is packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in a low-calorie package. 

One medium-sized tomato provides you with about 22 calories. It is also rich in fiber and water, helping you feel full easily.  

11. Unripe plantain

50 foods to lose weight quickly and keep it off

The green unripe plantain is high in resistant starch and is better for weight loss than the ripe, yellow plantain.

One study discovered that consumption of resistant starch is associated with reduced abdominal fat and improved insulin sensitivity. [5]

It is a perfect example of African foods to lose weight.

Related: 10 health benefits, recipes, and side effects of unripe plantains

12-19. Vegetables

12. Eggplant

Eggplants also known as garden eggs in some parts of Africa are nutrient-dense vegetables in a low-calorie package.

They are rich in dietary fiber and one cup of cooked eggplant contains about 35 calories.

You can eat it fresh with peanuts or add them to your soups.

13. Cucumber

Cucumbers are low in calories because they consist mainly of water. One cup of raw cucumbers will give you only 16 calories.

They are also rich in vitamin K1, minerals, and antioxidants.

14. Okra

Okra or okro is a popular vegetable in Africa that is good for weight loss. 

It is rich in protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, and soluble dietary fiber- a type of fiber that protects the heart and prevents obesity.

Interestingly, 100 grams of okra contains 3 grams of fiber and only 33 calories. [6

It can be used to make soup or make a stir-fry with chili pepper and tomatoes.

15. Pumpkin 

Pumpkin is incredibly nutritious food in a low-calorie package. One cup of cooked pumpkin will provide you with about 49 calories.

It is full of fiber and will keep you satisfied for a long period. You can add it to your salad, stir-fry, or mash it like potatoes.

16. Cabbage

Cabbage is high in fiber and incredibly filling. It is also surprisingly rich in protein and is a perfect weight-loss food.

A cup of cabbage will give you only 18 calories. You can eat it as coleslaw, cabbage rice or add it to your salad.

17. Moringa leaves (Drumstick)

Powdered moringa leaves is a powerful weight loss supplement. 

Although no human research has been carried out to confirm this, an animal study showed that moringa leaves could fight obesity. [7

It can be added to soups, smoothies, yogurt, or used to make tea.

18. Mint leaves

50 foods weight loss foods
Green veggie smoothie with mint leaves

Mint leaves are low in calories and rich in fiber. Two tablespoons of dried mint leaves contain only about 2 calories.

Because it is rich in menthol and fiber, it can help prevent indigestion, treat headaches, and reduce high cholesterol levels. [8]

You can add it to smoothies, yogurt, water, or use it to make tea.

19. Dark leafy greens 

Dark leafy greens like jute leaves (ewedu), African spinach, pumpkin leaves, kale, scent leaves, and bitter leaf are good for anyone trying to lose weight.

They are low in fat and calories but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

You can use these vegetables to make soup, stews, or salads.

20. Soups

African soups like oil melon soup (egusi), peanut soup, vegetable soup, ewedu soup, pepper soup, etc. are perfect African foods to lose weight.

They are high in water, protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Just make sure not to add too much oil to your soup, or eat your soup with high-calorie starchy foods as this can significantly increase your calorie intake.

21-22. Lean meat and Poultry 

21. Lean meat

Lean meats like lean beef, goat meat, bush meat, etc. are low in calories but rich in protein.

Proteins boost feelings of fullness and may help you eat fewer calories throughout the day. [9]

22. Chicken breast

Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein. About 3-ounce (86 gram) will provide you with 92 calories.

You can keep the calorie content low by trimming all skin and visible fat.

23-24. Fish and Seafood

23.  Salmon and other oily Fishes

Salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines are rich in high-quality protein, nutrients, and healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids that keep you full for longer periods.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in these fishes reduce inflammation which is known to cause obesity and other metabolic diseases. [10]

24. Shrimp (crayfish)

Shrimp is a type of crustacean that is low in fat and calories but high in protein. 

It’s also loaded with selenium, vitamin B12, and other important nutrients.

You can add it to salads, grind it into a powder and use it in cooking.

25-28. Nuts and seeds

25. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. A single ounce (28 grams) packs 11 grams of fiber and other nutrients.

They keep you full for long periods because the seeds absorb water and swell in your tummy.

You can sprinkle them on desserts, breakfast cereals, smoothie, yogurt or add them to your salads.

26. Peanuts

Peanuts are incredibly nutritious and filling. They contain a high amount of healthy fats and fiber which helps you stay full for long periods.

Studies suggest that peanuts increase your energy level and are great for weight loss. [11]

However, take it easy on the peanut butter as it’s very high in calories and easy to overeat.

27. Almonds

Almonds are incredibly nutrient-dense nuts. They are loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber.

Studies show that almonds can help you lose weight and improve metabolic health. [12]

28-31. Whole Grains

28. Teff

Teff is a wonderful example of African foods to lose weight. It’s Ethiopia’s most nutritious grain and it has a fiber content that is higher than most cereals. 

100 grams of Teff will give you only 101 calories. It is gluten-free, low in fat, and rich in protein.

You can use it to make flat sourdough bread called “injera”.

29. Fonio grain (Acha)

Fonio is an African grain that is underutilized. 

It is very useful for weight loss because of its low glycemic index and high fiber content.

A quarter cup of cooked fonio will provide you with 170 calories. It can be eaten as couscous or as a breakfast cereal. 

Nonetheless, always eat in moderation.

Related: 7 Amazing Health Benefits of Fonio (Acha)

30. Oats

Oats are full of fiber and protein. One cup (94 grams) of raw oat bran contains about 231 calories.

They help you stay full for longer periods but should be eaten in moderation.

31. Wild African rice (Ofada rice)

50 African foods to stay slim and healthy

Wild brown rice is incredibly nutritious. It is full of fiber and resistant starch. One cup of cooked rice will provide you with about 166 calories.

The resistant starch in wild rice promotes feelings of fullness and prevents overeating, nonetheless, always eat it in moderation.

32-35. Legumes

32. Pigeon peas

Pigeon pea is a highly nutritious weight loss legume. It is rich in healthy carbs, protein, fat, and fiber.

One cup (168 grams) of cooked pigeon peas provides you with about 203 calories. 

You can eat it with potatoes, stews, or add it to salads.

Related: 6 surprising health benefits of Pigeon peas (Fio-fio)

33. Cowpeas (Black-eyed peas)

Just like pigeon peas, cowpeas are incredibly nutrient-dense. One cup (171 grams) of cooked peas will give you about 198 calories.

You can add them to rice, salads, or porridge.

Related: 10 Proven Reasons why you should Black-eyed peas (Cowpeas) to your Diet

34. Bambara groundnuts (Okpa)

Barbara nut is a solid example of African foods to lose weight. It is high in fiber, proteins, and carbs.

The high fiber content keeps you full for longer periods and reduces overeating.

You can use it to make a dumpling (okpa) or eat the roasted nuts as snacks.

Related: Reasons why you should add bambara nut to your diet

35. Lentils

Just like bambara nuts, lentils are nutritious weight loss legumes. They are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils will give you 230 calories.

Their high protein and fiber content, makes you feel full easily and eat less.

36. Whole Eggs

Eggs are nutrient-dense foods in a low-calorie package. One large egg will provide you with only 72 calories.

One study in 30 overweight women showed that eating eggs for breakfast instead of bagels increased feelings of satiety and made participants eat less for the next 36 hours. [13]

They are high in protein but should be eaten in moderation.

37-38. Diary

37. Milk 

To lose weight, you should go for reduced-fat or skim cow milk because they are lower in calories. Nonetheless, before buying, check to make sure that the milk is not high in sugar.

Also, if you are lactose intolerant or vegan, you can go for plant-based milk products like soy-milk and almond milk. Both of them are equally low in calories.

38. Full-fat yogurt

30 foods to gain weight quickly in a week
Yoghurt topped with fruits

Yogurt is an excellent diary food especially those made with live cultures.

They improve gut function, prevent inflammation, and prevent leptin resistance which is the major cause of hormonal obesity.

Always choose full-fat yogurt, because studies show that full-fat dairy (not low-fat) is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes over time. [14]

39-40. Healthy Fats and Oils

39. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is rich in healthy fats that keep you full for a longer time period and help you burn belly fat.

One study in 40 women showed that supplementation with coconut oil helped the women lose abdominal fat. [15

40. Extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil is incredibly heart-healthy. It is rich in monounsaturated fats that make you feel full quickly and eat less.

However, use olive oil with moderation as one tablespoon contains about 119 calories. You can use it sparingly to flavor salad, stews, or soups.

41-42. Tubers

41. Potatoes

Potatoes are loaded with potassium and contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need including dietary fiber.

They help keep you full for longer periods and are filling.

One study analyzed 38 foods and found that boiled potatoes were by far the most filling. [16]

However, always remember to eat them in moderation as they are high in carbohydrates.

42. Taro (cocoyam) 

Taro also known as Arrow root is a surprising example of African foods to lose weight. 

It is rich in resistant starch and fiber and 100 grams of cooked taro contains about 147 calories. 

You eat them with beef stew, as snacks, or add them to your soups as thickeners.

43-45. Spices

43. Garlic

Garlic is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants. One clove contains only 4 calories.

A study showed that adding garlic to one’s diet could help reduce waist circumference. [17]

44. Ginger

Ginger acts by suppressing appetite. It is known to contain two biological compounds called shogaols and gingerols.

These compounds are said to be responsible for ginger’s many health benefits.

To help your weight loss, you can add ginger to lemon juice, green tea, or hibiscus tea.

45. Chili pepper

Chili peppers are extremely useful in a weight loss diet.

One study reported that peppers contain capsaicin, a substance known to reduce appetite and increase satiety in most individuals. [18]

46. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is incredibly useful in weight loss.

One 12-week study in overweight individuals showed that 15-30 ml of vinegar per day caused a weight loss of 1.2-1.7 kg. [19]

You can find multiple varieties of Apple cider vinegar in food stores or online.

47. Roselle (Hibiscus tea) 

Hibiscus tea to stay healthy and fit

Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants and enzymes that help in weight loss.

One 12 weeks study, showed that hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index, and hip-to-waist ratio in 36 overweight individuals. [20]

Related: Amazing health benefits and facts of hibiscus tea

48. Green Tea

Green tea is a zero-calorie beverage that is rich in caffeine and antioxidants called catechins.

In a study, green tea extract was believed to facilitate rapid weight loss and burn belly fat in individuals who drank green tea and exercised for 25 minutes. [21]

49. Black Coffee 

Black coffee is a zero-calorie beverage. 

It is rich in caffeine that helps boost your metabolism and make you lose weight quickly.

50. Pure Cocoa Drink

50 African foods to stay fit and healthy
A mug of delicious cocoa drink

Finally, cocoa drink is a wonderful fat blaster. It is rich in fiber, flavonoids, and vitamins. And is made from powdered cocoa beans and water. 

It is very low in calories and provides you with 57 calories in 15 grams of cocoa powder.

It is different from chocolate because it does not contain cocoa butter or sugar.

And it is a healthy beverage for anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off. You can add flavor with milk or any low-calorie sweeteners.

The Bottom Line

Eating these nutritious African foods to lose weight should pave your way to a healthy weight loss success. 

The main trick is consuming less calories than you burn.

Always remember to avoid junk foods, eat in moderation, drink lots of clean water, and engage in regular exercise.