Whether you want to lose weight or improve your health, integrating fat-burning foods into your diet can give you a jump start on achieving your goals. Although no particular food has been proven to burn fat, there are many foods which foster conditions in your body which will increase the likelihood of fat loss.
- Select hearty, wholegrain cereals and proteins to get the metabolism machine running first thing in the morning. Numerous research studies have shown that skipping or skimping on breakfast can actually contribute toward weight gain because those who skip breakfast tend to eat more later in the day (in order to compromise for the missed meal). Foods to consider first thing in the morning include:
- Oatmeal (porridge). Oatmeal is rich in fiber, filling and can contribute toward equalizing your blood sugar due its slow release of energy, which helps fat loss. It’s also good at helping reduce cholesterol levels and for getting rid of bad fatty acids. Select wholegrain, rolled oats that are unsweetened for added vitamins (and preferably, use organic sources). Make the oatmeal with milk, which contains calcium, itself acting as a good metabolic trigger. The complex carbohydrates help keep insulin levels low, which reduces the amount of fat which your body clings on to. Make your oatmeal even tastier by adding a dash or two of cinnamon, thought to stabilize blood sugar levels and even reduce your appetite.
- Eggs. Nutritionists say that the body burns more calories digesting eggs than it does consuming a carb-heavy (cereals) breakfast. At only 75 calories per egg and 7 grams of protein, eggs may be one of the ideal ways to start your day, providing you with choline via the egg yolk, which can increase fat loss. Author of The 4 Hour Body Timothy Ferriss, considers that eggs are an important fat-burning addition to the diet.
Enjoy a good fat-burning drink of green tea. Studies suggest that green tea has a positive effect on boosting the metabolism thanks to the phytochemical compound, catechins, with the most abundant catechin being Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This chemical helps you to burn more calories. It works in a similar way to caffeine but without making your heart beat faster.
- Drinks like coffee which contain caffeine also help you to burn more calories by speeding up your heart rate. Bear in mind that sweetening your coffee or adding milk, cream or other coffeehouse inspired delights will counteract this.
Reach for nutrient dense, protein packed snacks during the day. Although that bag of chips in the vending machine may be calling your name, resist the temptation and make a better choice. Remember that the type of fat you consume matters and fats mutated during manufacturing are not your healthiest bet. Snacks to grab mid morning or afternoon include:
- Greek yogurt. Lower in sugar and packed with more protein, Greek yogurt is a great source of nutrition and energy. According to sports nutritionist Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, protein is the way to go if you want to burn more calories and drop weight. “Protein takes longer to leave the stomach,” she says. “That keeps you satisfied longer.” Plus the body has to work harder to burn protein than carbs, which can produce more weight loss.
- Water-based fruit. Try watermelon, berries, grapes, grapefruit, pears or apples for a snack. In addition to getting your vitamins and minerals, fruit is full of water and is low in calories and it keeps you feeling full, which fits perfectly into your weight loss goals.
- Raw vegetables. Low in calories and fun to crunch, partner a dish of carrots, celery, raw zucchini or radishes with your favorite low calorie dip for a mid morning or afternoon snack.
- Roasted or raw almonds. Packed with protein, a handful of almonds is known to stave off hunger for a considerable amount of time. Just don’t eat more than a handful because almonds (and nuts in general) are high in calories.
- Air-popped popcorn. Although eating three cups of air-popped popcorn may seem like a lot of food (especially when you see it sitting in a large bowl) it’s actually extremely low in calories, but will fill you up because it’s loaded with fiber.
Designate lunch as your powerhouse meal. Instead of focusing on dinner as being the only time you include protein, make sure both protein and healthy carbs play a part in your midday meal. Metabolism boosting foods to add to your lunch repertoire could be
- Tofu. Not the “traditional” protein, however University of Illinois researchers believe that low-calorie vegetarian protein sources like tofu and tempeh boost the metabolism. It’s recommended that you avoid processed soy products though––stick with the healthier tofu and tempeh versions of soy.
- Chicken or turkey. Chicken and turkey are high in protein, which helps boost the metabolism, as well as helping bulk muscles if you exercise. Steer clear of the chicken nuggets and go for the real deal. Select a lean cut that can be grilled or baked and leave the skin in the garbage. Partner a grilled chicken breast with a side salad and some couscous for a well-balanced (calorie shredding) lunch.
- Salad. Select greens that contain plenty of nutrients such as spinach or arugula and partner with other crunchy veggies and a protein (such as a hard boiled egg or grilled chicken or steak). Not only can you glean protein from a spinach salad but you can also obtain almost an entire day’s worth of vitamins and minerals. Use caution when choosing and adding salad dressing––pick something low calorie (such as olive oil and vinegar) and ask to have it “on the side” so you can control how much goes on the salad.
- Tabouli. Although usually added to the salad family, tabouli can be served as a main course or as a side. Tabouli is high in protein and fiber. Nutritionists say that tabouli is low in calorie but satiates the body quickly thanks to its bulgur wheat base.
- Soup. Skip cream based soups and try a clear broth with chicken and vegetables or even a cold soup like gazpacho. Experts say that soup is a great choice for lunch because it is water based, which can fill you up using fewer calories. Add more nutrients to your soup by substituting chicken or beef broth with tomato juice or V-8. Add chicken or turkey, your favorite vegetables and your stomach will feel full for hours without having to consume many calories.
Consider dinner to be an ideal time to gather the family for rousing conversation and a healthy meal. Incorporating a variety of metabolism boosting foods during dinner is important, however researchers at Rutgers University found that families who ate a well-balanced, home prepared dinner together were less likely to be obese or overweight. Items to include in your meal include:
- Any lean meat. If your kids like steak, select a flank steak, eye of round or top sirloin that contain less than 4 grams of saturated fat per serving. Nutritionists suggest sticking with a 3 to 4-ounce portion.
- Pork is also a good source of protein. The more protein you eat, the more work your body will have to do to digest it. Keep the pork lean, stay away from the BBQ sauce, instead grill it with herbs, or other low fat seasoning.
- Red meat from animals raised on grass rather than grain are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which will lower your Leptin hormone levels giving you a higher calorific burn. It also contains healthier fat and more vitamin E. But keep it lean! There are many ways to season red meat without going for sticky, high fat options.
- Fish. Experts say that fish is one of the best sources of protein and studies have proven that fish is more satisfying than chicken or beef. One reason why fish is often a preferred is because it contains health-protecting, omega-3 fatty acids, known to fight heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Salmon contains lots of Omega 3 fatty acids. This can alter the amount of the hormone Leptin in your body. Lower leptin levels mean higher calorific burn. Grill it or BBQ it to keep it low fat.
- Tuna. Research has shown that tuna can be effective in lowering the hormone Leptin levels. Grilled tuna steak is good for BBQ’s or a nice low fat meal, or for a cheaper option eat it in a sandwich with whole grain bread.
- Beans. According to sports nutritionist Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, beans provide a “triple punch” because they are a vegetable, a protein and a great source of fiber. One cup of beans contains 12 grams of fiber, 4 grams of fat, and 15 grams of protein.
- Quinoa. Vegetarians have sworn by this protein-based grain for years because it contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber in one cup. Additionally, quinoa contains nutrients like iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E.
- Be aware of what you’re consuming. Since not all calories bring you nutritional benefits or fat burning potential, it’s important to be informed about the food that you select to nourish your body with. Make an effort to ensure that everything you eat brings you health benefits for the calories consumed. Moreover, be very careful of clinging to older diets and ideas about what is healthy and weight-reducing––be sure that any dietary recommendations you follow are up-to-date, verifiable and healthy. For example, recent research has begun to debunk some of the major food recommendations of previous decades, such as preferring low-fat choices over nutritionally balanced full fat choices. Eggs are back in favor, non-hydrogenated saturated fat in moderation like butter is returning to the healthy diet, and protein has become a dietary star because of its role in satisfying your hunger, keeping you satiated longer and burning off that fat.
- A diet should be a gradual change, until you are eating few enough calories in order to lose weight. During this time you should change your lifestyle to suit this new, more healthy you, so that when you are at a weight you’re happy with you can continue to eat well and maintain your weight rather than gain weight.
- Include more vitamin C in your diet––it has been shown to improve weight loss results.
- Although you want to eat enough for lunch, don’t go too nuts––especially if you have to return to work or school post meal. Listen to your body and right before your stomach is full stop eating. Overeating, especially in the afternoon can make you drowsy and unproductive.
- Keep your metabolism revved by eating small meals throughout the day, instead of three big meals. Smaller, more frequent portions will also prevent you from snacking or feeling tired by mid-afternoon.
- Incorporate exercise into your weight loss goals in order to achieve the body you really want. Fat-busting foods will help, but exercise will also have a positive effect on your metabolism, working hand in hand with your nutrition plan.
- Create meal plans so that you don’t go off track. Generate your weekly meal plan before you shop, so that you only buy the foods that you need.
- Berries can be used to sweeten many bland things. Try putting them into yogurts, oatmeal, cereal or smoothies. They contain dietary fibre and therefore slow down your carbohydrate absorption, and control your blood sugar levels preventing any insulin spikes. And to make them even better they work as an antioxidant and provide lots of vitamins.
- Spice up your meals. Jalapenos contain capsaicin, a chemical which speeds up the heart rate and gives your a metabolism a boost. You can use them to spice up your meals or snacks. Spice up your meals even more! Habaneros are very hot chilli peppers. Research shows that they can help your body to burn calories, with minimum effort from you. So if you like a bit of spice, try adding these to your meals.
- When dieting, don’t cut your calories too suddenly. A sudden calorie reduction may switch your body into starvation mode, which would increase your calorie absorption.
- Metabolism boosting foods should not be the only foods that you eat, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet so that you don’t end up with a vitamin deficiency, which can leave you feeling tired and make you lose motivation.
- Do not confuse wholegrain and wholewheat. Wholegrain is the one to look for in a healthy diet.
Sources and Citations
- http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-fat-fighting-foods – research source
- http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/12955/1/The-Top-Fat-Burning-Foods.html – research source
- http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/fat-burning-foods-boost-metabolism – research source
- http://x.nu/SvTc1-research source
- http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/most-important-meal – research source
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9221261/Family-dinners-make-for-healthier-kids.html – research source
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