Standing in front of our closet, we see a range of sizes. There are dresses that fit last year, bigger slacks that are starting to feel snug and those way-back items several sizes smaller that we dream of wearing again…someday. Our fat cells come in a range of sizes too, shrinking and swelling. The problem? Fat cells “remember” how much fat they’ve held in the past— like a cellular set point, which explains why lost weight is so darn easy to regain. Now, breaking research reveals we can make our fat cells self-destruct simply by flooding our bodies with powerful plant compounds like resveratrol and turmeric. And doing so may be the key to lasting weight loss for women over 45.
Certain Plant Compounds Destroy Fat Cells
Columbia University–trained weight expert Fred Pescatore, MD, explains, “When cells that have memories of being fat are destroyed, they are replaced by new fat cells that find it easier to stay small." See the diagrams below for a visual.
Engorged fat cell. An inflamed cell swells in size to hold more lipids in its fat reservoir (yellow), stretching its membrane (purple) larger in the process.
Destroyed fat cell. Powerful plant compounds halt inflammation so cell walls contract and burst, dispersing fat molecules as waste for easier weight loss.
Ready to eat up and slim down? Read on to learn more about the two plant compounds that can simplify weight loss.
Super Slimmer #1: Turmeric
"Turmeric is a rock star when it comes to disrupting inflammation that inflates fat cells and drives weight gain in women over 42," says Spice Up, Live Long (Buy from Amazon, $14.95) author Melina Jampolis, MD. The spice is rich in curcumin, a compound that forced fat cells to shrivel and die in animal studies at Tufts University. And that cell death leads to serious slimming: In another trial, women who consumed 1 teaspoon of turmeric daily shed more belly fat than those given a placebo. The perks go beyond fat loss: Daily turmeric strengthens immunity, boosts mood, eases joint pain, and improves "good" HDL cholesterol.
Super Slimmer #2: Resveratrol
An antioxidant found in grapes, berries, dark chocolate, and peanuts, resveratrol is one of the most-studied antioxidants in the past decade. And it's a pounds-off powerhouse. In animal studies, University of Georgia experiments found it stopped fat cells from maturing, which reduced their ability to store fat and made them disintegrate faster than normal. And a Japanese study found that taking 100 milligrams of resveratrol daily helped people with type two diabetes shed more weight than non-supplementers. "What's overlooked about resveratrol is how it handles the stress component of weight gain so we have less belly fat," says InVite Health's Amanda Williams, MD, who takes 100 milligrams of trans-resveratrol (the most potent form) daily. The anti-inflammatory compound also improves insulin sensitivity, reduces the risk of heart diseases, and boosts blood flow to the brain — an effect that makes it function better.
While resveratrol is powerful, it isn't perfect. There are also side effects, and it doesn't work its purported magic for everyone. For example, according to an international study, some users may experience liver disfunction, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea when taken in certain doses. And because supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, resveratrol pills can vary in dosage potency from brand to brand. As with any pill or supplementation, always consult your doctor first to make sure you are doing what's best for your health.
Super Slimmer #3: Combine The Two!
Decades of research prove the power of each compound. "But nutrients don't work the best in isolation," says Dr. Jampolis. "Combining two anti-inflammatory compounds that have different ways of working gives us more potential to be ultra-effective."
Dr. Pescatore agrees: "These antioxidants complement and amplify each other." Indeed, supplementing with curcumin and resveratrol may create a synergistic effect for weight loss. One study even suggests that combining them can boost their anticancer benefits. Says Dr. Jampolis: "Combining them can make any diet work better and give a weight-loss boost for someone who is over-indulging around the holidays." Add in anti-inflammatory foods, and "even more magic happens," says Dr. Jampolis."It's possible to feel younger in weeks," she cheers. Ready to start your slim-down? Keep reading!
So Simple, So Effective
Getting your fill of powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds has been shown to destroy fat cells to help you slim to your happy weight, even while you enjoy holiday favorites. "Any time you use anti-inflammatory ingredients, you're optimizing your metabolism to burn fat, especially for older women with weight shifting from butt to gut," says Dr. Jampolis. And because these plant compounds are so delicious, they're easy to incorporate into your diet. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry dishes their yellow color, and resveratrol is found in foods like chocolate, nuts, dark-skinned fruit, and red wine.
Dr. Jampolis recommends a daily supplement with 1,000 milligrams of turmeric and 100 to 250 milligrams of potent trans-resveratrol, taken together or separately. A supplement that contains both highly absorbable forms and gets a rave reviews from users: NAOMI Turmeric + Resveratrol (Buy from NaomiW.com, $35).
And while supplementing alone has been shown to power off pounds, you can speed results by filling your plate with delicious foods that are rich in one or both of the nutrients in this dynamic dup to support the accumulative (and healing) effect of the antioxidant compounds. With turmeric, consider rice curry dishes, cozy mugs of turmeric tea, and golden milk lattes. Aim to consume ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of the spice daily. For resveratrol, savor red grapes, berries, dark chocolate, and peanuts. And don't forget about vino! "I get my resveratrol from red wine," quips Dr. Jampolis, who likes pinot noir.
To make these slimming compounds even more powerful, sit down to three meals and one to two snacks per day, favoring whole foods low on the glycemic index, like the vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy oils that make up the Mediterranean diet. And follow these tips to turbocharge health and slimming even more.
Boost absorption: Harvard's leading resveratrol researcher, David Sinclair, PhD, consumes 1 gram of resveratrol each morning with yogurt. Why? He indicates that when it's taken without fat, resveratrol absorption can be lower. And to improve the gut absorption of turmeric, add ¼ teaspoon black pepper for every teaspoon of turmeric in your recipe — a strategy that's been shown to increase the absorption of turmeric.
Time your dosage right: Supplementing with resveratrol before exercising or tackling chores like cleaning or shoveling the walkway can bump up the benefits of the activity. Indeed, research conducted in Hungary discovered that animals given resveratrol before exercise experienced a boost in endurance, thanks to the compound's heart-healthy effects.
3 Superstars That Make Slimming Easy
Enjoy these delicious anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant-rich holiday treats, brimming with reservatrol, to help you feel great as you drop pounds.
Red wine: To get the most reservatrol, look for varietals with a long fermentation period, like malbec or pinot noir. Also smart: Uncork wines from New York's Finger Lakes region, known for grapes with a high reservatrol content.
Dark chocolate: A deliciously indulgent way to boost reservatrol intake: Snack on dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa (the higher, the better). For optimal absorption and a dose of mood-boosting serotonin, enjoy a few small squares on an empty stomach.
Grape juice: Opt for low-sugar juices made from Concord or dark purple grapes, which contain more reservatrol than blends made with white grapes. Drinking 6 ounces of this juice (or snacking on about 40 grapes) has also been shown to reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, lowering markers of clot-triggering fats.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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