Nuts – They are packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, those good-for-you fats that lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes and, according to new research, help you control your appetite.
Researchers from Georgia Southern University found that eating a high-protein, high-fat snack, such as almonds, increases your calorie burn for up to 3 and a half hours. And just one ounce of almonds boosts vitamin-E levels, increasing memory and cognitive performance, according to researchers at New York Presbyterian Hospital. In another study, people who ate pistachios for 3 months lost 10 to 12 pounds on average.
Eggs – In a new study in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight participants ate a 340-calorie breakfast of either two eggs or a single bagel 5 days a week for 8 weeks. Those who ate eggs (including the yolk, which contains nearly half the protein and all the nutrient choline) reported higher energy levels and lost 65 percent more weight than bagel-eaters—and with no effect on their cholesterol or triglyceride levels!
Plus, a recent review of more than 25 published studies on protein that concluded that egg protein helps boost muscle strength and development more than other proteins do because of its high concentrations of the amino acid leucine. Also egg protein is better at keeping you from getting hungry over a sustained period.
Whole grains – When Harvard University researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people over 8 years, they discovered that those ate whole grains daily weighed 2.5 pounds less than those who ate only refined-grain foods.
Another study from Penn State University found that whole-grain eaters lost 2.4 times more belly fat than those who ate refined grains. Whole grains more favourably affect blood-glucose levels, which means they don’t cause wild swings in blood sugar and ratchet up cravings after you eat them. Plus, the antioxidants in whole grains help control inflammation and insulin (a hormone that tells your body to store belly fat).
Avocados and other healthy fats – Just because a food has plenty of fat and calories in it doesn’t mean it’s “fattening.” certain foods cause you to gain weight because they provoke hormonal changes that trigger cravings, or “rebound hunger.” One hunger-control hormone, leptin, becomes blunted by starchy, sweet, fatty, and refined-carbohydrate foods. That’s why a bagel is fattening: It’s a high-caloric load of refined carbohydrates that double-crosses your natural satisfaction response.
Avocados on the other hand aren’t fattening, because they’re loaded with healthy fat and fibre and don’t cause wild swings in insulin levels. So enjoy the fat in avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Research shows that diets containing upward of 50 percent fat are just as effective for weight loss as those that are low in fat.
Grass feed beef and free range meats – Grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork is leaner and healthier than conventional livestock—and will help trim away pounds. A 3.5-ounce serving of grass-fed beef has only 2.4 grams of fat, compared with 16.3 grams for conventionally raised beef. In fact, grass-fed beef is so much more nutritious than commodity beef that it’s almost a different food.
Grass-fed beef contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat while building lean muscle. It also has more omega-3s and less omega-6s than corn-fed beef. It’s the same with chickens. According to a recent study in the journal Poultry Science, free-range chickens have significantly more omega-3s than grain-fed chickens, less harmful fat, and fewer calories than grain-fed varieties. This is important because omega-3s improve your mood, boost your metabolism, sharpen your brain, and help you lose weight.
Environmentally sustainable fish – Choosing seafood these days isn’t easy. Some species (swordfish, farmed salmon) contain obesity-promoting pollutants (dioxins, PCBs). Others are fattened with soy, which lowers their levels of healthy omega-3s. In fact, the American Heart Association recently urged people who are concerned about heart disease to avoid eating tilapia for just that reason.
Generally, small, oily ocean fish (herring, mackerel, sardines) are low in toxins and score highest in omega-3s. Wild Alaskan salmon, Pacific Halibut, Rainbow Trout, and Yellow fin tuna are generally low in toxins and high in nutrients. And then there are fish that we should avoid at all times: farmed (or “Atlantic”) salmon, farmed tilapia, Atlantic cod, Chilean Sea Bass, and farmed shrimp.
Raspberries and other berries – A recent study by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine discovered that after eating a high-carb, high-sugar meal, free radicals (rogue molecules produced when your body breaks down food) attack the neurons that tell us when we’re full. The result: It’s hard to judge when hunger is satisfied. Escape the cycle of overindulgence by eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, berries top the charts.
The berries that give you the most antioxidant bang per bite, in order: cranberries, black currents, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates.
Instant oats – Fibre is the secret to losing weight without hunger. One U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that those who increased their daily fibre intake from 12 grams to 24 absorbed 90 fewer calories per day than those who ate the same amount of food but less fibre. Do nothing to your diet other than add more of the rough stuff, and you will lose nine pounds in a year, effortlessly.
Instant oats are one of the easiest ways to get more real fibre into your diet. Plus, new research indicates that oats can also cut your risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and even reduce your risk of weight gain. Oats also have 10 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving, so they deliver steady muscle-building energy. Choose oatmeal that contains whole oats and low sodium.
Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens – Cruciferous vegetables—like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and bok choy—are all rich in folate, and the more folate you have in your diet, the lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, and depression. A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose 8.5 times more weight when dieting. Another stunner: New research shows that folate helps protect against damage from estrogenic chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA), which have been linked to obesity.
These veggies also rich in potassium, Researchers at the Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging, at Tufts University, found that foods rich in potassium help preserve lean muscle mass
Apples and other fruits – What makes the apple so potent? In part, it’s because most of us eat the peel: It’s a great way to add more fibre and nutrients into your diet. But there’s a downside: The peel is where fruit tends to absorb and retain most of the pesticides they are exposed to, apples and peaches being the worst offenders. That’s why, for maximum weight-loss potential, we strongly recommend you buy organic versions of apples, pears, peaches, and other eat-the-peel fruits.
You’ll experience a terrific payoff if you do: In a UCLA study, normal-weight people reported eating, on average, two servings of fruit and 12 grams (g) of fibre a day; those who were overweight had just one serving and 9 g. Credit that extra 3 g fibre—the amount in one single apple or orange—as the difference maker.
Dark chocolate – A new study from Denmark found that those who eat dark chocolate consume 15 percent fewer calories at their next meal and are less interested in fatty, salty, and sugary foods. And research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, decrease the risk of blood clots, and increase blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which is associated with improved mood and greater concentration; it’s rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and it contains theobromine, a stimulant that delivers a different kind of buzz, than the jitters.
Enzymes and probiotics (yoghurt) – Probiotics and enzymes, those friendly bacteria found in yogurt, may be the key to losing those last stubborn inches around your waist. They not only help the digestive system work properly, but also have a profound effect on the metabolism, according to a new study in Molecular Systems Biology. The bacteria Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus can change how much fat is available for the body to absorb by influencing stomach acids during digestion.
But not all yogurts are probiotic, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Other foods containing probiotics include kefir, acidophilus milk, miso soup, soft cheeses and pickles.