Are you struggling to squeeze into your favorite jeans again? You’re not alone.
READ: 7 Foods That Burn Fat
While a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with daily exercise, are key to shedding the pounds, it’s easier said than done. The pesky cravings that don’t seem to go away can make you eat more while burning fewer calories, leaving you feeling frustrated and downright defeated. However, studies have shown that certain foods can actually help promote one’s weight loss goals.
“There’s no one food that will make the fat melt off your body. Total calorie intake and how much you burn through physical activity and exercise definitely matter much more than any one food you eat,” explains dietician and nutritionist Elisa Zied.
“But some foods can provide a slight metabolic boost, help you feel fuller faster, feature fewer calories, and help you feel satisfied for a longer period of time,” she adds.
To make the journey toward weight loss a little easier, here are 10 foods that could help make a difference — along with daily exercise and practicing portion control.
In a 2011 study conducted by the University of Copenhagen, it was concluded that those who consumed dark chocolate felt fuller and ate less than those who didn’t. And while a chocolate diet isn’t recommend for weight loss (although one can dream), it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy one square to satisfy a sweet tooth as it doesn’t contain extra ingredients, like sugar, found in processed variations, such as milk and white chocolate.
Nutty coconut oil may be a high-calorie ingredient, but some experts say it holds benefits for cooking. “It’s high in calories, most of which are derived from saturated fat, which everyone thinks is evil,” explains Cindy Moustafa, a New York City-based nutritionist who uses coconut oil in her dishes. “However, coconut oil is compromised of medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized differently than the short-chain fatty acids you would find in butter. Medium-chain fatty acids are more likely to be oxidized and used as energy than stored as fat. Not only is this great for someone looking for ways to maintain or lose weight, but it can also be beneficial in those with high triglycerides.” Like with any high-calorie food, it’s crucial to practice portion control. When cooking, it’s recommended to use no more than two tablespoons.
“Animal proteins have the highest thermic effect of food, which means it takes more calories to burn proteins than fat or carbohydrates,” explains nutritionist Shannan Monson. “Grass-fed beef, in particular, is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation. And inflammation due to food sensitivities, stress and environmental toxins stimulates hunger hormones, making it more difficult to manage appetite.” In addition, Monson also states protein-rich foods, like grass-fed beef, keeps you feeling fuller longer. She recommends grilling some beef at the beginning of the week, which could then be added to salads or served with steamed vegetables.
Oatmeal is a delicious and healthy way to jumpstart your morning, and one that should be considered if looking to lose weight without feeling hungry during the day. Oatmeal is rich in fiber, which contributes to keeping you fuller and more satisfied longer than any sugary cereal or frosted doughnut. “Oats also contain some protein and, along with fiber, this will fill you up and can help prevent overeating,” says Zied, who recommended starting every day with a well-balanced breakfast to promote weight loss. To make your oatmeal extra tasty, add juicy berries and slices of bananas. Also, experts warn against using prepackaged oatmeal as it may contain unwanted sugar and salt.
“Hot peppers, such as jalapenos or cayenne peppers, contain a secret weight loss ingredient: capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that gives them their hot bite, which also boosts your metabolism,” says health coach Lori Shemek. “Adding a single hot pepper to your meal can boost your metabolism by up to 25 percent, with a spike in calorie burning that lasts up to 3 hours.”
For a hearty dinner, consider savoring the meaty eggplant, which is low in calories and rich in nutrients. Plus, it can make a mouthwatering substitute for beef. Whether you choose to bake, sauté or grill, the possibilities are endless. Plus, it’s a great way to boost your daily intake of fruits and vegetables consumed during the day, which experts say are key to losing and maintaining weight.
In a 2005 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was revealed that those who drank green tea daily were more likely to experience reduced body fat than those who didn’t. If you like to begin your mornings with a cup of coffee for a much-needed jolt of energy, consider swapping it for green tea instead. Coffee, especially with those extra additions, like whipped cream, sugar, cream, whole milk, and flavored syrups, can easily pack on the pounds. Green tea, on the other hand, does feature caffeine and is preferred to be enjoyed alone. Allow your tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins, which is said to be the key component in boosting weight loss efforts.
Monson recommends flaxseed as one of her must-haves to help promote one’s weight loss goals because it features omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which fills you up faster and keeps you sated longer. Plus, there a variety of ways to enjoy flaxseed. “Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to green smoothies in the morning,” suggests Monson. “You can also add to soups or salads for a nutty texture.”
Need something to snack on? Toss aside those greasy, salty potato chips and choose nuts instead. “Several studies show that those who eat nuts regularly tend to have a lower body weight than those who don’t,” says Zied. “Almonds, for example, provide a hearty dose of protein and fiber, which help you fill up. Also, 23 almonds, or 1 ounce, have 160 calories. Make sure your snack doesn’t include unnecessary toppings like sugar and salt — they’re delicious alone!
What’s not to love about juicy, crisp apples? From tart and crunchy to tender and sweet, there are plenty of options to satisfy your love for apples and quiet down your tummy. “Apples are a nutrient-dense, fiber-rich food, and because of this, you simply stop hunger and cravings,” says Shemek.