Fight fat with food simply by picking the right snacks and ingredients. Peta Bee shows you how
Want to lose weight but don’t have the time or the energy to do more at the gym? Then the solution could be to fill your shopping basket with the right fat-burning foods. Here we reveal the top ten foods that are guaranteed to give you a head start in the fat-loss stakes:
Remember the grapefruit diet of the 1980s? Well, it wasn’t as faddy as you might think. A study, published in Nutrition & Metabolism showed that a pre-meal snack of grapefruit or grapefruit juice really can boost weight loss. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that obese adults who consumed half a grapefruit or a glass of 100 per cent grapefruit juice before their three main reduced calorie meals, lost an average 7.1 percent of their body weight - or 15 pounds per person - in 14 weeks.
When you are asked if you want black pepper sprinkled onto your food, you should always answer ‘yes’. Why? Because Korean scientists reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that piperine - the flavoursome substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste - can block the formation of new fat cells in the body.
Add a sprinkle of this spice to your breakfast cereal and coffee every day and you could offset some of the ‘fat’ calories you consume. That was the outcome of a study conducted by Penn State University researchers who showed that cinnamon and turmeric reduces the body’s negative responses to high-fat meals. “Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood,” said Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health, who led the study. “We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 percent.”
Long derided as unhealthy, eggs have transformed their image in recent years and are now among the foods most widely accepted to help you shift body fat. Last year, experts at the University of Missouri found that a breakfast rich in protein, such as eggs, significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening. Being low in calories (an egg contains only around 75), an egg or two is a great way to fill up without packing on the pounds.
When you eat apples, always keep the peel on. Why? Because it is an excellent source of a substance called ‘ursolic acid’ that has been shown to aid fat-burning. Trials on obese rats have shown that those fed ursolic acid (also found in cranberries, rosemary, lavender and prunes) were able to eat more than their counterparts who weren’t given the substance but still lose more weight and gain a greater amount of lean muscle tissue.
There have long been rumours that green tea aids weight loss by triggering the body to burn abdominal fat, but can they really be true? Many scientists think so thanks to specific tphytochemicals in green tea called catechins. In 2013 a group of Korean scientists showed how extract of green tea not only aided weight control, but improved symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Effects were amplified when the green tea was consumed with a compound called polyethylene glycol and researchers said you could easily drink your way to good health by sipping several cups a day.
They are packed with beneficial antioxidant vitamins, but that’s not all you get from eating blueberries regularly. Scientists at the University of Michigan showed that obese rats given meals enriched with blueberries lost fat from their stomachs and, they say, the same could be true for humans. In the study, researchers used freeze-dried blueberries crushed into a powder and added two per cent of the preparation to the animals’ meals. After 90 days, they had less abdominal fat and lower cholesterol. Benefits were linked to the high level of phytochemicals - naturally occurring antioxidants - contained in the fruit. Why not try Vicki Edgson’s blueberry and almond milk smoothie recipe?
If you have a snack attack, then you could do worse than opt for some almonds. A team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University looked at the effects of consuming a small handful (30 grams) of almonds compared with a calorie-matched, high carbohydrate snack on body weight in 52 adults with raised cholesterol. After 6 weeks, weight loss did not differ between the two groups, but the almond diet proved to be a fat-buster, reducing overall abdominal fat, and waist circumference compared to the other snack.
Eating chilli peppers, or even milder red peppers to your menu can actually increase your body’s consumption of calories and “oxidise” layers of body fat, found researchers at the University of California. The ‘heat’ in peppers comes from an active ingredient called capsaicin - the hotter the peppers, the more of it you get. Other trials have shown that capsaicnoids in peppers not only boost fat burning but also trigger the stores of ‘good brown fat’, which gobbles calories, into action.
As long as you take it black, then your coffee could aid fat-burning. But so could cola or another caffeinated drink. Sport scientists have previously shown that caffeine consumption prior to exercise can help the body to utilise fat stores before relying on carbohydrate (glycogen) for fuel. And last year, a paper in PLOS One journal that analysed how cyclists responded to a java jolt found those who drank caffeine or coffee moved almost 5 per cent quicker during a workout than those who hadn’t taken the caffeinated beverage. A greater workout output translates to greater calories burned, so it’s a double winner on the fat-burning front.
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