Some cheat meals are better than others. And a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein meal, however “naughty,” can help you stay on track. The reason: Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on leptin levels, which help you burn fat and feel satisfied. And protein has the greatest influence on satiety because of its influence on appetite-regulating hormones and high thermic effect—the process of digesting protein requires more energy of your body than any other macronutrient. So, go ahead and grab a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Contrary to popular belief, pasta is actually a fairly low-glycemic food, meaning it won’t drastically spike your blood sugar levels.
There’s a reason everyone harps on about protein: Not only does it help keep you full, but it’s also responsible for repairing the tiny tears caused by strength training in your muscles. This helps them grow bigger and stronger, nudging out body fat in the process. As a general rule of thumb, aim to get at least 70 grams of protein throughout the day, says Dr. Cheskin. (These high-protein foods can help you reach that goal.)
Fruits make it to the top of this list. The emphasis on fruits continues through this guide. When berries are concerned, the deeper color means more antioxidants to break starch into simple sugars, ensuring lower blood sugar levels. This helps in body fat loss because insulin essentially puts sugar in adipose or fat cells. Raspberries contain ketones that are rich in fat burning capability. Blueberries lower cholesterol, improve insulin and blood sugar levels for the better, and are a top source of fiber, lower in calories to ensure fat burning foods work wonders. Berries also fend off infections and maintain excellent vision, maintaining bone density.
This Asian veggie dish is made by fermenting a blend of cabbage, radishes, and scallions with a seasoned paste of red pepper, salted shrimp, or kelp (koji) powder. Fermented foods are great for healing your gut thanks to the high levels of probiotics, but the unique strains found in kimchi may also help you stay slim: Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Korea induced obesity in lab rats by feeding them a high-fat diet. The group that got a Lactobacillus brevis supplement— the culture strain found in kimchi—was able to suppress the diet-induced increase in weight gain by 28 percent! If kimchi isn’t your thing, also consider adding one of these probiotic foods for a healthier gut to your diet.
This brilliantly orange root is a powerful fat fighter. According to a 2009 study by the USDA, mice whose diets were supplemented with turmeric experienced reduced weight gain and body fat levels even when their food intake was not changed. Experts believe the power of this spice comes from the active ingredient curcumin: Studies, including one published in the journal Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, have found that curcumin is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory options out there. Because it’s more difficult for your body to lose weight when you’re fighting off inflammation, adding anti-inflammatory turmeric will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Talk about the ultimate in fat burning foods!
This creates satisfaction and satiates the cravings for fast food, ensuring that you are full longer with fiber and high protein. It improves the metabolism to burn more calories across the day. Buy peanut butter from peanuts alone. Look for unprocessed freshly ground butter loaded with niacin that keeps the digestive system at optimal levels and prevents belly fat.
Apple cider vinegar, in particular, is composed mostly of acetic acid, which has been shown to delay gastric emptying and slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Research published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, Biochemistry found that a small pool of study participants given ACV over a 12-week period lost more weight, body fat and inches from their middle than participants that were given a placebo. How does it work? Besides maintaining stable blood sugar levels, ACV produces proteins inside the body that burn fat.
If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective (and therefore make progress toward your weight loss goals), the ideal number is typically 7 or 8 hours, says Dr. Cheskin. (Struggling to get that shut-eye? This doctor-approved breathing exercise will help you fall asleep fast.)
Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with some refined sugar, turn to berries and enjoy a slimmer waistline in no time without exercise. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and research from the University of Michigan reveals that rats given a cherry-rich diet shaved off a significant proportion of their belly fat when compared to a control group. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to reductions in belly fat and a reduced risk of dementia, to boot.
It's normal to feel a few hunger pangs when you cut your calorie intake, but you don't want to feel ravenous. Filling your diet with low energy-density foods -- ones that have a low calorie count per gram -- allows you to fill up on larger portions while controlling your calorie intake. Many of these foods also supply water and fiber, which can make you feel full, to help with weight loss.
For example, you might not realize just how much you eat when you go out to happy hour with friends. But if you take the split second to take a step back and make yourself aware of that fact, you’re more able to make a healthy decision. “The awareness and then planning and coming up with strategies for what else I can be doing—that might give me the same benefit of eating those comfort foods that make me feel better,” says Gagliardi.
Sunny side up, scrambled, hard-boiled, or fried—it doesn’t matter. A pan, spatula, and carton of eggs are all you need to fry some serious flab. Eggs are one of the best sources of choline, a major fat-burning nutrient that helps turn off the genes responsible for belly-fat storage. Bonus: eggs are a great source of lean protein, which can set the fat-burning pace for your entire day when eaten for breakfast. In a study of 21 men published in the journal Nutrition Research, half were fed a breakfast of bagels while half ate eggs. The egg group were observed to have a lower response to ghrelin, were less hungry three hours later and consumed fewer calories for the next 24 hours!