The world is flooded with diet plans that promise to help you shed the pounds fast. No-carb, low-carb, diet pills, weird weight control shakes. While some of these may help you drop a couple digits on the scale quickly, most likely it will be difficult to sustain that lifestyle and weight loss. Eating a well-balanced diet and moderate exercise are the best ways to burn fat and boost your metabolism. With that said, there are some foods that do help with whittling away your waistline if you incorporate them into your everyday meal plan.
Without further ado – here are my Top 10 Fat Burning Foods & Metabolism Boosters:
1. Extra-Virgin Raw Coconut Oil Not all dietary fats are created equal. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chained-triglycerides (MCTs), which your body preferentially uses for energy, leaving less opportunity for them to be stored as fat. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed greater abdominal fat loss over a 16-week period when MCTs were consumed versus olive oil. That doesn’t mean ditching your olive oil entirely (it has other beneficial properties). Instead, use coconut oil to cook with and olive oil for a salad dressing.
2. Black Sesame Seeds Animal studies showed that plant chemicals, called lignans, in sesame seeds enhance fat burning by increasing liver enzymes that break down fat. “Many studies found that protein and essential fatty acids increase the metabolic rate, and sesame seeds are loaded with both,” explains Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
3. Chia Seeds Packed with omega-3 fats, fiber, and protein, these tiny seeds help suppress the appetite, fire up the metabolism, and turn on glucagon, one of the body’s fat-burning hormones. The trick is to soak them for 15 minutes so they swell up to 10 times their size. Just as with oatmeal, the larger the seeds are, the quicker your stomach will release those hormones that let you know you’re full—and hopefully satisfied.
4. Raw Cacao (Chocolate) A particularly sweet study found that daily consumption of roughly one and a half ounces of dark chocolate — about the amount in a Hershey’s bar — reduced the stress hormone cortisol. (Stress has been linked to a sluggish metabolism.) Researchers suspect that certain compounds in chocolate, like caffeine and theobromine, may be responsible. Another reason to indulge: A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who ate moderate amounts of chocolate regularly were actually thinner than those who didn’t, even though they consumed more calories and exercised the same amount.
5. Green Tea Powder Caffeine helps speed up your heart rate. The faster your heart beats, the more calories you burn. EGCG works in a similar way, but instead of revving up your heart, it causes your brain and nervous system to run more quickly-again helping you burn more calories. In studies, researchers found that a combination of caffeine and a 90-mg dose of EGCG taken three times a day can help you burn an extra 80 calories a day. And that’s just when your body’s at rest. A study conducted by the Canadian government found that soldiers who consumed caffeine in the 12 hours prior to a physical-fitness test not only were able to work out longer before becoming exhausted, but also consumed more oxygen while working out. The body’s oxygen requirements are directly related to the speed of-guess what-your metabolism, so the more oxygen you use, the more calories you burn during your workout.
6. Brazil Nuts Next time you want to discard those large nuts from the mixed nut selection, don’t. They’re actually little fat-burners. They help boost the metabolism by converting the thyroid hormone to its active form. They also bind up toxins that would otherwise store themselves in your fat cells and contribute to cellulite.
7. Lentils are bursting with fiber (notice a trend here?) and a great source of low fat protein. Eating them can help prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat. Use them in soups, salads and veggie burgers.
8. Goji Berries are low glycemic, high fiber fruits that contain 18 amino acids, which make them a surprising source of protein. They are also an excellent source of a mineral called chromium which aids in regulating blood sugar levels and maintaining lean muscle mass. Snack on these mid-afternoon to keep you satisfied until dinnertime.
9. Cinnamon/Cayenne A study from the late ’80s found that eating a single spicy meal can boost your metabolism by up to 25 percent, with the spike in calorie burning lasting for up to 3 hours after you finish eating. More recently, a study from Laval University in Quebec found that men who consumed coffee plus red pepper-packed snacks and meals were able to burn nearly 1,000 more calories a day than a control group.
Small snacks can also help keep your body from running out of fuel-preventing those 3 p.m. office blahs. “When you restrict the number of calories your body has for fuel, your metabolic rate can drop temporarily,” says Susan Roberts, Ph.D., chief of the energy-metabolism laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. That makes it easier to pack on the pounds and harder to burn them off again.
10. Quinoa packs a ton of both fiber and protein, a magnificent combo that can keep you satisfied for hours. This grain is very versatile and can be used in replace of rice for many dishes. Have a veggie quinoa bowl for lunch and most likely those mid-afternoon snack attacks won’t hit you as hard.