Fresh wholesome food provides nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and active ingredients that can boost energy and metabolism. Eating certain foods can provide key active ingredients that can help stimulate fat burning pathways, reduce hunger and ultimately help shed fat and keep if off for good.
Wondering what these nutrients are? Make sure to include these seven superfoods in your meal plan to help expedite your weight-loss goals.
Nuts high in fiber and fat content can reduce hunger and appetite while elevating energy expenditure or thermogenesis, which is the amount of calories you burn while at rest. In one eight-week study on peanuts, an 11% increase in energy expenditure was observed, while another study with almonds showed a 14% increase in energy expenditure. One of the reasons nuts may have this effect is their high oleic acid content, which has been shown to increase the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine.
It doesn’t matter what nut you eat. Most have been proven on large, meta-analysis studies to cause satiation, reduce blood glucose levels and increase thermogenesis. To curb cravings, try snacking on almonds or add nut butter in your oatmeal or favorite protein smoothie.
Oatmeal is a part of many weight-loss plans because of its low sugar and high fiber content. This low-glycemic food is digested slowly, helping to stabilize energy levels and reduce appetite. One recent study showed that eating just one serving of oatmeal every day for six weeks resulted in a reduction in waist circumference along with improvements in other health parameters including reduced cholesterol levels.
This versatile whole grain can be eaten any way you like it. Add your favourite nut butters, seeds, fresh or dried fruit, spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg and a scoop of protein powder for a delicious and filling breakfast.
When it comes to weight loss foods, protein should be at the top of your list. A nutrition plan high in protein helps maintain lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. Protein also has a thermic effect in the body, which means it takes more energy to digest and process than other foods of the same caloric value. Whey protein has been shown in many studies to help improve body composition and support weight loss.
In one study, in a 12-week diet where subjects consumed whey protein shakes before breakfast and after dinner, it was found to decrease body fat and maintain lean muscle. Researchers also found participants lost more weight and significantly more body fat compared to the control group. Add whey protein to your oatmeal, a smoothie, a baked goodie or an energy bar recipe to help meet your daily protein needs and reap the benefits of this food.
This unique superfood is prized for its high nutrient value. Avocado can help reduce hunger between meals due to its rich monounsaturated fat content. In one recent study, it was shown that those who ate half a fresh avocado with their lunch felt fuller and were less likely to eat later. One reason is a reduction in blood sugar, causing balanced energy levels throughout the day.
Another study showed that those who ate about three tablespoons of monounsaturated fats daily for four weeks lowered belly fat by 1.6% compared to those eating polyunsaturated fats—those found in fish. Further research showed that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats supports lower body fat distribution around the mid-section.
Many nutrients are “fat soluble,” meaning they must be combined with fats in order to be utilized by the body. This includes vitamins such as A, D, E and K, along with antioxidants. Not only are avocados highly nutritious and proven to lower BMI, they can also dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods you are eating.
Eat a ripe avocado on a rice cake with tuna, make guacamole for a side to your meat or eat them on a salad. Avocados deliver 10g of monounsaturated fat for every 100g serving.
This leafy green is packed with an antioxidant known as thylakoid. This active ingredient has been shown to be effective for reducing hunger and the urge to eat sweets by increasing the production of satiety hormones.
One randomized study tested 38 women who were given a green drink containing 5g of baby green spinach leaves once per day for 12 weeks along with a calorie-restricted diet and exercise program. The participants lost significantly more body weight versus women who didn’t consume the green drink. The women who received the green drink lost on average 5kg versus 3.5kg of the control group.
Add spinach to your protein smoothies, sauces, vegetable dishes or omelet’s.
You know they’re high in satiating protein and can help maintain a lean body, but did you know eggs can also have an impact on weight loss? One study showed that eating whole eggs instead of simple carbs like bread or bagels for breakfast not only reduced the onset of hunger but also resulted in significantly more weight loss, greater reduction in waist circumference and greater body fat loss.
Eggs can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eat them hard boiled, over easy, mixed with veggies in an omelet or in a protein pancake recipe.
Red hot chili peppers
This spicy vegetable has been shown to have a direct effect on appetite by reducing hunger. Peppers contain the active ingredient capsaicin which can stimulate norepinephrine, a key fat burning hormone. Increases in norepinephrine can stimulate pathways that reduce hunger, increase energy expenditure or metabolic rate, as well as activate fat oxidation or fat burning.
Multiple studies on humans have shown that small doses of the active ingredient not only increase energy expenditure but also reduce appetite and energy intake—resulting in fewer calories consumed and more burned! Add a dash of spicy hot sauce to your meats and egg dishes or to your favorite sauces.
Karen Gauvreau is a personal trainer turned entrepreneur with a background in marketing and sports nutrition. She has devoted her career to helping women meet their health and fitness goals. In spring 2016, she launched the first female-focused sports supplement brand, Ripped Femme.