We are constantly bombarded with new health information and fad diet plans, which can make maintaining a well-balanced diet seem complicated. So keep it simple with low-cal, nutrient-rich staples at the core of your diet and you can’t go too wrong! From speeding up metabolism to satiating your appetite, here is a list of your best fat fighting friends.
A staple in most diet plans and fad diets, there has been much focus on the mechanism behind grapefruit’s ability to aid in weight loss. The overall understanding is that it helps boost metabolism and is relatively high in fibre for being low calorie. It is also a “negative calorie” food, which means it takes more calories to digest than it contains. Recent research has shown that it lowers insulin and regulates blood-sugar along with metabolism. To get the full benefits, eat fresh grapefruits, drink grapefruit juice, or add some to a salad, and be sure to eat the white fleshy membranes. Caution is advised if on regular medication, some prescription drugs react with grapefruit including cholesterol and blood pressure medication.
Your mid-morning snack attack is caused by a dip in blood sugar levels after the breakfast insulin spike. With 10.6 grams of fibre, 17 grams of protein and only 68 calories per 100 gram serving, fibre-rich oatmeal helps regulate your bowels, hunger and metabolism. Digesting for hours it gives a slow energy release that helps stave off cravings caused by energy dips - it’s a super convenient breakfast option for those of us who forget to eat throughout the day. Avoid the sugary flavoured and instant varieties and opt for the plain stuff - you can always sweeten it with agave syrup or berries.
Go nuts and still lose weight! A Purdue University study showed that people who snacked on nuts felt full longer than those who ate rice cakes. Choose nuts with their skin intact like almonds or walnuts, and limit yourself to 24 almonds a day to satisfy your snacking without overloading on calories. Avoid salted nuts as too much sodium raises blood pressure.
There are a number of benefits for switching out your sweetened coffees and milky teas for green tea. Consumed hot or cold, green tea is calorie-free and contains an antioxidant/caffeine combination that will boost your weight loss. Green tea has been shown to boost metabolism by 4% within 24 hours.
That may not sound like a lot, but making it a daily staple will keep rev your metabolism into gear over the long term. It has also been known to supress appetite in some people when drank regularly.
Research has found that spicing up your food could help you slim down, speed up metabolism and curb your appetite! Capsaicin, the chemical that makes chillies and chilli based spices like paprika hot, stimulates the food in your stomach to be converted to heat - a process called diet induced thermogenesis. This causes calories to be burned up immediately without storing them, and carbohydrates are usually used up the most in the process. Research has also found that adding chilli to a meal tricks you into thinking the meal contains more fat than it actually does, causing satiety.
We all need a little fat in our diets to control hunger, and olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids that will help keep your cholesterol under control and satisfy cravings. Research indicates that replacing other types of fats with monounsaturated fats can help people lose weight without additional food restriction or physical activity, and people tended to eat less food. Several other studies indicate that monounsaturated fat enhances the body’s breakdown of stored fat.
Eggs contain vitamin B12, which your body needs to help metabolise fat and use it for energy. Several studies have found that people who had eggs as their daily breakfast as opposed to grain based breakfasts consumed fewer calories at their next meal and ate less in general over the next 36 hours. Eggs are packed with amino acids; L-arginine helps the body synthesise proteins and produce growth hormones, and Leucine which also produces growth hormones as well as regulate blood sugar levels - all essential for building muscle and using fat. If your cholesterol is normal, don’t ditch the yolk as it actually contains most of the vitamins and minerals, plus half of its protein.
Beans are another low-calorie food that is packed with fibre and protein. You can cut back the saturated fat in your diet by replacing meat for beans in dishes such as burritos or curries. Bean-heavy diets can also help you get up to 25% more arginine, an amino acid that’s been shown to increase both carbohydrate and fat burning. Fava beans and lentils are also rich in arginine as well as glutamine, another amino acid that has been tied to a 50% boost in post-meal calorie burning.
A favourite treat of fitness freaks, who would have guessed that a kid-friendly food could be waist-friendly too? Peanut butter is packed with niacin, which keeps the digestive system on track and prevents belly bloat. Just keep an eye on portion size: peanut butter does have a lot of fat, so limit yourself to no more than two tablespoons a day, and go for an all-natural one without added sugar.
In addition to containing lots of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are a terrific source of filling fibre (11 to 17 grams per avocado!), both of which make them a great food for staving off hunger.
Low calorie and calcium and protein rich, Parmesan cheese is a treat that can safely be incorporated into your soup or salad without having to worry about your waistline. With only 22 calories and 1 gram of fat per tablespoon, it’s great for weight management. It contains more calcium than any other cheese and is also packed with protein, both of which help the body metabolise fat. It is also a low-lactose food, so some people who are sensitive to dairy don’t have to miss out.
Dark green leafy veg
High in fibre, low in calories and you can fill up on them without breaking the calorie bank. Super nutrient rich veggies like broccoli and spinach are the better option over romaine or iceberg lettuce that have next to no fibre and less nutrients due to the high water content.
Berries are nutrient and antioxidant rich, and lower in sugar and calories compared to other fruit such as mangos and bananas, which can help keep that sweet tooth under control. Berries are also fibre dense, which slows digestion and absorption of fructose.
Switching to Greek yoghurt can help you cut down your calorie intake, as it is relatively lower in calories than fruit flavoured varieties that contain lots of added sugar. Plain Greek yoghurt is also rich in dietary protein, with 17 grams of protein per 170 gram container, compared to regular plain low-fat yoghurts that contain about 9 grams per 170 gram portions. Protein helps satiate appetite and helps your body burn extra calories, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutrition that found that protein and dairy intake helps with weight loss and muscle gain. Greek yoghurt also has a higher concentration of probiotics - good bacteria that help maintain gut health, which have also been linked to aiding weight loss.