Nigerian Recipes for Weight Loss

Healthy Nigeria

Healthy Nigerian Eating

Diet is all the rave this year and since we published this post on weight loss, there have been several questions on Healthy Eating in Nigeria and ways to make Nigerian Recipes healthier.  If we follow the general rule of thumb for a well rounded healthy diet, most recipes can be modified to become “Healthier”. Here are some useful tips


1. Stews

Nigerian Stew


The way stew is prepared can easily make it one of the worst offenders; the presence of oil and fried meat in most stews is enough to drive calories and fat content overboard.   Simple modification on stews will be:

  • Eliminate the use of additional oil, meat has lots of naturally occurring oil
  • Replace fried meat with roasted  meat
  • Make use of fresh fish, goat and chicken. These are leaner protein sources
  • Add some ponmon to enhance the “meatyness” at lower calories


2. Rice

Shrimp Sauce

Rice + Shrimp/Vegetable Sauce


Rice being a grain is fundamentally healthy, where rice offends on the diet scale is in the use of “white Rice”. White rice can simply be described as “Empty food” as it is nutritionally void, low in fiber and other essential vitamins.

The simplest modification on rice would be:

  • Replace white rice with Brown rice. Brown rice has 2x the manganese and Phosphorus, 2 -1/2X the iron, 3x the vitamin B3, 4x the vitamin B1, 10x the vitamin B6 and 4X the Fiber (which is essential for keeping you fuller longer)


3. Soups & Sauces

nigerian efo riro by 9jafoodie


The basic composition of most soups are similar (earthy broth with meat and fish plus vegetable), again this should be fundamentally healthy but two main factors affect the health composition of most stews and sauces;

  1. the use of excessive Oil
  2. the presence of excessive high fat proteins

Although most of the calories from protein are healthy; excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and other health risks.

Some modifications for soups will include:

  • Reduce the amount of oil used (a good trick is to add oil after cooking not prior)
  • Be mindful of the amount of fatty proteins added (cow meat is a huge culprit)
  • Use more goat meat and chicken
  • Use a variety of vegetables for greater health benefits
  • Replace frozen/ dried vegetables with fresh ones that are in season


4. Solids

wheat fufu

Wheat Fufu

Solids are a great source of carbohydrate , the problem with solid consumption comes in the type/amount consumed.  Excessive carbohydrate intake eventually leads to weight gain and other ailments. It is important to note that Carbohydrate is essential; the problem isn’t with carbohydrate itself but the types of carbohydrate. Highly processed sources like white grains are vitamin deficient and encourage excessive eating.

Instead of the popular three solid sources (Garri, pounded yam and corn fufu) , here are excellent alternatives that you can make in your own home with better nutrition:

  • Millet: Millet is high in protein—1/2 cup of cooked millet provides 4.2 grams. It is also rich in niacin, B6, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

-Millet is sold on the market in whole form. Simply mill the grains in a dry mill or blender and prepare it in the same way as semolina

  • Sorghum (Guinea corn): although high in calories, there are good reasons.  One cup of sorghum contains 12.1 g of dietary fiber, 21.7 g of protein, 551 mg of phosphorus, 672 mg of potassium, 53.8 mg of calcium and 8.4 mg of iron.

– sorghum grains is  widely sold on the market as guinea corn; simply mill the grains in a dry mill and prepare it in the same way you will prepare semolina . Go for the darker variety (black or red) for better health benefits

  • Oat Fufu: Oat is high in fiber and has the magical power to remove bad cholesterol from the body. Oat is also a good source of manganese, selenium, phosphorus, fiber, magnesium and zinc

– Buy unflavored whole oat, turn it into powder form with a blender and Prepare it the same way as semolina

  • Plantain Fufu : Plantains are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, b-complex vitamins (particularly – B6) and other minerals including potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and iron.
  • Milled brown rice: This is another great solid alternative that you can make in your own home;  make use of local unpolished ofada rice or imported brown rice. Brown rice is simply unrefined rice; it is rich in Selenium, Manganese, fiber and other vitamins and minerals.

– Simply mill the rice grains  and prepare it in the same way you will prepare semolina or tuo

  • Sweet potato flour: Sweet potatoes are low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. They are also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese.

– To make sweet potato flour, Simply dehydrate (or sun dry) raw unpeeled sweet potatoes, mill and sieve into a powder.  Prepare the same way as semolina or amala


5. Protein- Meat & Alternatives:



Culturally when we think of protein, we think of meat and fish; we tend to ignore other sources of proteins like soy, nuts, beans and other legumes. The problem with animal based protein sources is the  high fat/cholesterol content which can lead to disease when consumed in large amount.  On the other hand, plant based protein sources are  deficient in one or more essential amino acid. The best option is to combine a variety of plant and animal based protein.

Sample modifications:

  • Include plant based proteins like soy beans (Tofu (Wara-Soya) especially) and legumes in your diet
  • Always choose lean cuts of meat and poultry

 Other tips

  • Use oil sparingly; the fact that you are using healthy oil doesn’t give you free reign
  • Cook with less salt, the average adult is supposed to consume only half a teaspoon of salt per day
  • Incorporate side dishes like salads into your diet
  • Have snack time between meals (Eat a variety of nuts )
  • Always choose less processed foods

The Nigerian Food guide (Adult 19+)*

Here is a helpful breakdown of how much food to eat in each category per day:

Nigerian food guide

Carbohydrate (6-11 servings) = 40%

Sample serving size: 1 slice of bread, ½ cup cooked rice, ¾ cup of cereal, ½ cup pasta, ½ cup pounded yam

Vegetables and fruits (8-10 servings) = 32%

Sample serving size: ½ cup of peas, ½ cup cooked spinach (efo) or 1 cup raw, 1 medium banana, ½ cup fruit juice, 1 medium mango, 1 large size Guava

Milk and Alternatives (2-3 servings) = 14%

            Sample serving size: 1 cup reconstituted powdered milk (reconstituted according to package instruction), ½ cup evaporated milk, 1 cup soy milk, ¾ cups yogurt, 50g wara (Tofu)

Protein (2-3 servings) = 14%

Sample serving size: 75g meat or fish, ¾ cup of beans, 150g of wara (Fulani or soy version), 2 eggs, ¼ cup of nut

*men should strive for the higher points on the scale and women should strive for the lower points

* remember that all carbohydrates are not created equal neither are all proteins. Go for whole grains and Lean protein


Lose Weight on a Nigerian Diet with Lose It Nigerian (LIN)


Subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive content!

Recipe Index

Lose It Nigerian

By |January 31st, 2013|89 Comments


  1. Cynthia June 30, 2017 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Please what can i use to measure? for example, 1 cup of rice. What readily available and accurate cup measurement can be used?

  2. Lenny March 28, 2017 at 5:13 am - Reply

    I’d like to correct a statement here, garri is not in fact healthy.
    It’s what is known as empty carbs; high calorie content, little nutrients.
    So it should be avoided or replaced where possible.

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie March 28, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Sorry Lenny that’s an incorrect assertion. Garri might be carb heavy but carbohydrate is an essential macro nutrient which is critical for all bodily function.

  3. Kachi Samuels May 12, 2016 at 8:46 am - Reply

    You did good , dear. keep up the good work

  4. Mariam November 29, 2015 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I have an issue with light at Yaba, I am a student and buying fuel all the time is heartbreaking, to make food am always scared that there won’t be light because it would spoil. Can you mention a few more meal types I can make that can last without light.

  5. izzy October 25, 2015 at 4:06 am - Reply

    Hello, ps how do I curb my appetite? And is wheat fufu really the best? Thank you

  6. christine wazhi June 20, 2015 at 7:31 am - Reply

    Hi. 9lafoodie I have two issues 1. Is there no other substitute for rice cuz the brown rice is expensive to buy buyt would still want to loose weight. 2. Can u also send a healthy nigerian food timetable for kids including affordable healthy lunch ideas too cause I. Wud also wnt child (2 yrs) to also eat healthy. And I have a problem knowing healthy things to buy when shopping in the market. Please help a desperate mother

  7. ChiChi Oma June 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    9jafoodie, thank you very much for sharing how
    to make plantain fufu. After I saw your post on how to blend it into paste , I have been enjoying my green plantain fufu.

  8. ChiChi Oma June 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Try uncle Bens brown rice, You will not go back to white plus it cooks quicker too but more expensive.

  9. Modupe June 18, 2015 at 6:35 am - Reply

    This is a job well done! Have read several comments and supporting the fact that palm oil is a great choice couple with coconut and Olive oil. If we don’t go beyond 5-10ml per cooking time for individaual,i think we would be good. We need healthy fat to burn bad fat.

  10. Oremeyi June 10, 2015 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Good and Healthy foods ideas you just gave to me. God bless you.

  11. Ri May 7, 2015 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Great blog with lots of good information. Any ideas on low calorie Nigerian foods that keep you fuller for longer? Thanks and keep up the good work.

  12. Bims April 17, 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this info. Great work. I agree on the comment that palm oil is okay, we should mind portions used and put close to the end of cooking. Your blog is indeed an inspiration. God bless you

  13. debz March 31, 2015 at 6:18 am - Reply

    How about white potatoes for solid….wats wrong with using that

  14. harriet March 21, 2015 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Thanks a million 9jafoodie, pls is whole wheat grains healthy for weight watchers. and pls how do i process potatoes powder and cocoyam powder, since they are good for weight watchers. God bless u guys.

  15. harriet March 17, 2015 at 11:37 am - Reply

    pls u talked about oatmeal but u did not mention wheatmeal or are dey dsame, if no pls wia can i get d oatmeal

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie March 18, 2015 at 8:00 am - Reply

      They are different. Oatmeal is the same as Quaker oat.

  16. Temi February 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Where has this blog been all my life??? Thanks 9jafoodie. Please keep up the good work.

  17. Florence Benjamin February 13, 2015 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Really luvly healthy diet tips, well done guys

  18. chinonso enimola February 1, 2015 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Pls is basmati rice also good

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie February 2, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Basmati rice is still rice. go for brown basmati, it’s more nutritionally dense

  19. Jessy January 15, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Thank u. Very informative

  20. Elizabeth Osuno January 15, 2015 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Great . We need more of this type of information. Please keep it up. When you are well informed you will be better performed.

  21. onadipe babatunde December 12, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

    lm Tunde, a clinical biochemist… You miss out the role of exercise in the overall regulation of digestion, absorption and usage of food products in body process,,,, Is this within your jurisdction?

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie December 23, 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

      This post is about the effect of food on weight management .

  22. maryam November 20, 2014 at 9:01 am - Reply

    What of wheat floor is it good

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie November 20, 2014 at 11:39 am - Reply

      Wheat flour is higher in fiber – yes

  23. Brenda October 8, 2014 at 4:06 am - Reply

    Hi, nice diet i must say. I am a South African and struggling so much to loose weight, it has never been a problem for me before, but now ijoo! its so bad, but anyway thanks i am gonna try this weight loss recipes.

  24. Dtn TM September 28, 2014 at 7:11 am - Reply

    This is so so so nice!!.. no doubt you have saved a lot of people from poor eating habit as it is peculiar to nigerians. Am a dietitian,working with one of the very known teaching hospital in Nigeria…and I know what it means to give and convince people on a tailored individualized dietary plan,especially in diseased conditions. Wouldn’t mind joining the crew to eating right.
    Dtn TM
    Eat Right

  25. Natou September 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Just stumbled over this and I am staring a diet tomorrow. Love this so much. Many thanks and hope we will get to do something bigger for the whole Africa.

  26. Thelma September 13, 2014 at 9:14 am - Reply

    How is efo spinach? Spinach is spinach and is found in Nigeria.

  27. ose eleojo August 4, 2014 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Living healthy is so important and I am excited about the degree of clarity available in your b log. It goes without saying that your interest is undivided and your passion undaunted. Kudos! Pls do mail me a copy of the healthy feeding timetable.

  28. bosola July 2, 2014 at 3:35 am - Reply

    thanx so much, been looking for a site that talks about healthy eating in Lagos cos its so hard and restrictive. i started my workouts some weeks ago and i messed it up by eating beans five times a week. as its high in protein and fibre, its equally high in carbohydrate. :(…definitely going to try some of your recipes.

  29. Yemzi June 23, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Good job. Thanks indeed. But how do I get brown rice? Its ofada rice that’s mostly in d market and the smell is terrifying :). Pls state where it can be bought. Also what’s d difference between Oat and Wheat. I know wheat in d market but is Oat in our common market too? Pls describe it or say another name with which its known. Thanks

  30. Amaka Dan Onyema June 8, 2014 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Good job. I cnt zoom the diet table and will like to view it and make use of it to help me burn my excessive fats. Please send it to my email([email protected]). Thanks.

  31. Pearl June 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Pls whoever says groundnut oil is better than Palm oil is liar. They both have same content. If u want to use any, better use oliver oil. Meanwhile wheat is better than plantain flour cos plantian is carbohydrate and does not have enough fibre as wheat.

    • obbyoma2 August 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      I tend to favour palm oil over ground-nut oil cos it’s less processed and generally healthier (some publications say it helps reduce cholesterol risk actually – unlike earlier claims that it causes high cholesterol). As for wheat being healthier than plantain, I disagree. Plantain contains potassium, has fewer calories than wheat, does have a good amount of fibre, is cheaper, is tastier, cooking is much easier, I don’t know anyone allergic to plantain but there are many people with wheat intolerance.

    • obbyoma2 August 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      This is going to be a long one – 🙂 Healthy eating is oh so important. Access to correct and non-misleading information is very important to healthy eating. I love this blog for its constant effort to inform us. I particularly love the post you had about the different kinds of meat we eat – you definitely validated my preference for goat meat. I’d like to point out that some of the food choices we make are fueled by age-old information that some of our parents read or were taught. My mom still has her reservations about palm oil and that conversation will never end in our house. Olive oil is not native to our region, so our great grandparents of course never had meals with olive oil. I actually read an article today saying that palm and coconut oil were competing for the top position among the healthiest of oils, followed by olive oil in 3rd position. Why has olive oil been touted so much? Of course the exultation of the Mediterranean diet as a healthy one (which of course it is) has played a huge role in olive oil’s popularity. But, palm oil is used in many commercial products both for skin, hair, and food processing; and I’m not talking about natural hair products or organic food. Palm oil is a detoxifier. It is also a tasty accompaniment to food. Contains a lot of phytochemicals as well as beta carotene. I could go on and on about food misconceptions, but that would be too much cos you’ve said a lot about it already in several posts. The bottom line is – Nigerian food is healthy. Portion control is the key.

    • bellefaces February 13, 2016 at 12:19 am - Reply

      I know this post is old but pearl do you have to throw jinsults because you want to make a point? Smh

  32. Healthy eating seeker February 19, 2014 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I love your site. thank yoy so much

  33. Achama February 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Hi there, what a really interesting article. I was born and raised in the UK so although I eat Niger food I don’t eat it every day – probably 10 times in a month. I always try to make all the food I eat as healthy as possible as I’m on a special diet for health reasons and was interested n low carb alternatives to pounded yam, gari etc. I found your ideas of oat and brown rice helpful and wonder if you could do the same with quinoa. My hubby loves Naija food and half of the battle is that I’m trying to change my diet but he’s not so any tips you could give and have given are great.

    Thanks 😉

  34. joy January 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Using coconut oil is very effective for ur waste line

  35. shak December 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    what about wheat?

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie December 7, 2013 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Healthy as well because of the fiber content

  36. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Seriously I luv dis post nd I must share it 2 save lives. Pls more of dis.

  37. Anonymous September 19, 2013 at 5:09 am - Reply


  38. olayinka September 19, 2013 at 4:00 am - Reply

    What type of cup is required for these measurements?

  39. tejubabie July 16, 2013 at 6:06 am - Reply

    WOW, this is a great work you’ve done… Shedding light to the darkness of majority about diets including me and also answering questions… Kudos for that … Thank you very much

  40. tolu June 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    and does completely eliminating dinner hinder my weight loss by any means?

  41. tolu June 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    can pounded yam be replaced with anything?

    • Obi July 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Some say pounded plantain (plantain fufu) is a better alternative. Personally I haven’t tried it, so I’m not speaking from experience. It’s said to pack less starch than tubers.

  42. Collins May 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    What is Oat in Nigerian Language (Yoruba precisely)? Is brown rice the same as the unpeeled rice? I have not seen brown rice before. If you peel rice grains, the grains are white (abi?). Thank you a lot for this blog. I also have to thank you sincerely for having time to respond to comments and questions.

    • Obi July 2, 2013 at 6:05 am - Reply

      Hi Collins, brown rice isn’t unpeeled rice. Unpeeled rice as you already know has the husk or skin or whatever the correct name is, still on it. When peeled, rice is not pure white … here’s a wikipedia excerpt to help.

      The seeds of the rice plant are first milled using a rice huller to remove the chaff (the outer husks of the grain). At this point in the process, the product is called brown rice. The milling may be continued, removing the bran, i.e., the rest of the husk and the germ, thereby creating white rice. White rice, which keeps longer, lacks some important nutrients; moreover, in a limited diet which does not supplement the rice, brown rice helps to prevent the disease beriberi.
      Either by hand or in a rice polisher, white rice may be buffed with glucose or talc powder (often called polished rice, though this term may also refer to white rice in general), parboiled, or processed into flour. White rice may also be enriched by adding nutrients, especially those lost during the milling process. While the cheapest method of enriching involves adding a powdered blend of nutrients that will easily wash off (in the United States, rice which has been so treated requires a label warning against rinsing), more sophisticated methods apply nutrients directly to the grain, coating the grain with a water-insoluble substance which is resistant to washing.
      In some countries, a popular form, parboiled rice, is subjected to a steaming or parboiling process while still a brown rice grain. This causes nutrients from the outer husk, especially thiamine, to move into the grain itself. The parboil process causes a gelatinisation of the starch in the grains. The grains become less brittle, and the color of the milled grain changes from white to yellow. The rice is then dried, and can then be milled as usual or used as brown rice. Milled parboiled rice is nutritionally superior to standard milled rice. Parboiled rice has an additional benefit in that it does not stick to the pan during cooking, as happens when cooking regular white rice. This type of rice is eaten in parts of India and countries of West Africa are also accustomed to consuming parboiled rice.

      • 9jafoodie
        9jafoodie July 5, 2013 at 8:33 am - Reply

        very well explained Obi. Thanks!

        • Collins July 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

          Thank you for this explanation. I hope to check with the rice millers here in Nigeria how they mill the rice and I shall get back to this blog to tell.

      • Collins July 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm - Reply

        However, the other question was ignored. The question about Oat.

        • Obi July 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm - Reply

          lol. Sorry man, I can’t help you with that one. I doubt that it is indigenous to Nigeria, so may not have a local name. But I stand to be corrected on this.

  43. ifydozman March 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    I am so happy and motivated by your post.I used to weigh 70kg but baby fat increased it to 117kg and it has been a pros fr me.I ve started diet and also attend. Zumba class hoping dat I will come bk to my former shape.I love food a lot but have tried in reducing d portion I eat.Thank you for your wonderful post cos ve learnt a lot and m going to implement dem.

  44. Amaks February 28, 2013 at 7:45 am - Reply

    What of Vegetable oil?, Cotton Seed oil?

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie March 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      healthy choices

      • jenny May 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm - Reply

        So am tryin to loose my belly fat n am a student so its kinda hard plus ur timetable isn’t so clear on my fone. Could u mail it to me

  45. saadiya February 20, 2013 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Hi,are u saying groundnut oil is healthier than palmoil?

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie February 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      Yes it is… the fat content is comparable but groundnut oil is cholesterol free.

  46. Vegan Nigerian February 18, 2013 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Hi there,
    I agree with your recommendations here. Thank you for this write-up. I became a vegan recently and have been looking for ways to modify most of the Nigerian food favourites to suit my diet. It is actually surprisingly easy. I’ve never felt better, my skin is clearing up and I’ve managed to lose some extra pounds. Check out my new blog if you have the time:

  47. TasteBud February 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you 9jafoodie.

  48. joe kwaga February 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    it is a good development in africa as a wholle so a big thank you gous to you 9ja as a familly

  49. TasteBud February 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    9jafoodie! Thank you very much. This is very informative. I’ve been told that Basmati, jasmine and ofada rice are healthy alternatives to plain parboiled rice, is this true? Also does brown rice take forever to cook?
    Once again thank you 9jafoodie

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie February 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Brown rice takes a lot longer to cook for sure. For rice to be a better alternative, it has to be unpolished; health wise White Jasmine rice and white basmati are on the same scale as parboiled rice.

      • kay May 5, 2016 at 3:57 am - Reply

        This write up is very informative but I’m sorry I disagree that basmati rice isn’t healthy

  50. Name (required) February 8, 2013 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Nice work in progress. Keep it up!

  51. Name (required) February 5, 2013 at 2:17 am - Reply

    Thanks a lot, Naija foodie for life!

  52. Toyin February 2, 2013 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Thanks for this write up! it is so detailed & informative.
    God bless you.

  53. King Franky February 1, 2013 at 1:44 am - Reply

    Good news for Nigeria & Africa. I welcome this awareness of healthy eating in Nigeria! As an expert in African Fitness & wellness, general fitness consultant. We have a lot of work to do in this area! Together we can fight this war on health. If you need my help , i will to do my best to keep Africa healthy. King Franky

Join the discussion!

Join Our Newsletter Today!

Send this to a friend