Ready to get slimmer and feel younger? Add these foods to your diet and you’ll gain nutrients as well as lose pounds.
Boost the benefits of your workout and burn more fat, faster, with these seven smart food choices. Add them to your daily diet and you can shed about 10 pounds over the course of a year.
Water with lemon
A California study of 240 women found that dieters who replaced their sweetened drinks with water lost an average of 3 pounds more a year than those who didn’t. Subjects who sipped more than 4 cups of water a day lost 2 additional pounds, compared with those who drank less. Plus, the phosphoric acid in soda may contribute to bone loss—and osteoporosis—by changing the acid balance in your blood.
High-fiber granola bars
A small British study found that women who eat a fiber-rich, high-carb breakfast burn twice as much fat during workouts later in the day as those who eat more refined (lower-fiber) foods. Try a granola bar with at least 4 g of fiber, like Kashi, instead of the typical bar that contains just a single gram. Refined carbs spike your insulin levels, which limits your body’s ability to use fat as fuel, explains Lisa Dorfman, R.D., adjunct professor at the University of Miami.
Flaxseed is rich in fiber and healthy fats, which help stabilize blood sugar, so you’re less likely to binge. Some research suggests flax can also help soothe symptoms of hormone swings because it’s high in plant estrogens. Ground seeds are easier to digest. Sprinkle them over cereals, soups, or salads; add them to smoothies; or substitute 1 cup of ground flaxseed for 1/3 cup canola, corn, or other oil or shortening in muffins and cookies. Note: Lower oven temperature slightly, since baked goods brown faster with flax.
Instead of snacking on some chips, open up a bag of nuts: Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may keep you feeling fuller longer. In a one-year study of people with diabetes who were following a low-fat diet, Australian researchers discovered that those who included 8 to 10 walnuts a day lost more weight and body fat. The subjects also reduced their insulin levels, which helps keep fat storage in check.
Forget bland condiments. If you want to burn fat, spice things up. In a study of 36 men and women, Australian researchers found that following a spicy meal, levels of insulin—the hormone that triggers body fat storage—were lowered by as much as 32 percent. One theory: Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chiles their fire, may improve the body’s ability to clear insulin from the bloodstream after you eat, so you’re more likely to burn fat following a meal spiked with chile peppers than after one that isn’t packing heat.
Sweeten your oatmeal or frothy coffee drinks with this sweet spice instead of sugar (which has 16 calories per teaspoon) and you can save a couple hundred calories a week, enough to shed 2 to 3 pounds in a year without doing anything else. You’ll also be doing your heart a favor as protective estrogen levels decline: Pakistani researchers found that 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day could lower heart-damaging cholesterol by 18 percent and triglycerides by 30 percent.