Sure, a little spice might speed up your metabolism a notch, but these eats help get your whole body into balance for weight loss that lasts. By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.
"If you've been eating the standard American diet, you have an overgrowth of the gut bacteria that trigger cravings, and you'll keep eating the same way," says Robynne Chutkan, M.D., author of Gutbliss. Fermented foods like kefir are naturally prebiotic, meaning they encourage the growth of good bacteria and help your body break down food more efficiently. Not a fan of the drinkable yogurt? Sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled veggies work the same way.
Wild salmon has more brain-, heart-, joint-, and gut-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than any other food, plus it's low-glycemic, meaning it prevents insulin spikes and fat storage around the middle. "The key to staying lean is the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids," says William Sears, M.D., author of The Omega-3 Effect. "And the fats in salmon are satisfying, making it difficult to overeat."
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"Eating omega-3 fatty acids, which walnuts are full of, activates fat-burning by changing your insulin resistance," says Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet. "They're also an important part of a low-glycemic diet, which studies show burn 300 calories more per day than a high-glycemic one."
This supergrain is everywhere for a reason. "Quinoa is a fantastic alternative to acid-forming grains such as wheat and barley," says Eating the Alkaline Way coauthor and nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson. "It provides long-lasting energy and feeds on the good bacteria that live in your gut naturally to prevent bloating."
Also known as sunchokes, these root vegetables are high in inulin, a prebiotic that promotes good bacteria in your body. Having trouble finding them? Other high-fiber foods that pack lots of inulin include asparagus and most leafy greens.
Not everyone's a fan of this fish, but if you do like it, you're in luck. In addition to low mercury and lots of omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are rich in vitamin B and cholane. "And unlike industrial or inhumanely raised animal products, high-quality protein like sardines aren't inflammatory," says Hyman.
Good thing this green is now in every grocery store and on so many menus. An alkaline food, it's high in fiber, which slows the release of glucose to prevent insulin spikes. "It's also packed with energizing iron and magnesium, which helps reduce stress hormones in the body," says Edgson.
Ditch the butter, put aside the cooking spray, and coat your pan in olive oil. Like fish oil, it's full of omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your gut, brain, and other organs working efficiently, thus regulating your appetite.
Try it instead of coffee for today's 4 p.m. pick-me-up. "Green tea supports the thyroid in its production of the hormone thyroxine, revving up the metabolism for several hours," says Edgson.
This natural whole grain is high in chromium, a mineral that helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. The result? Reducing insulin resistance and fat storage.