5 Foods You Probably Didn’t Know Are Good for Fat Loss
So you want to lose some body fat— that probably means it's time to deprive yourself of all the food you love to get results, right? From here on out, it's a steady diet of plain chicken, boring vegetables, and starving for the foreseeable future. I’m going to let you in on a little secret— not only is this a miserable way to live your life, it’s actually counterproductive to long-term, sustainable weight loss.
You don’t have to cut out all the great-tasting foods you love to get results, you just need to gain a better understanding of how to make those foods work for you instead of against you. Does that mean you can go crazy, eating all the sweets, fried food, and decadent sauces you want? Of course not. But it does mean that when used the right way, many of those foods you think of as “off limits” might actually help you achieve your weight-loss goals (and keep you from losing your mind at the same time). Let’s take a look at 5 foods you might be avoiding that can actually help your body burn fat.
Think you should be skipping the full-fat milk in favor of the skim variety? According to science, you might want to think twice about it if you’re trying to get lean. According to a recent study of more than 18,000 women, those that consumed whole-milk dairy products were at a reduced risk of weight gain.
The reason for this is largely due to the process that occurs when milk is skimmed— essential fatty acids are stripped from the milk, removing the components that actually make you satisfied and full for a longer period of time. To compound this problem, studies have also found that when many people replace dietary fat, they tend to do so with refined carbohydrates and sugar, leading to additional negative effects on their health.
Instead of worrying about how much fat your dairy contains, try focusing on limiting the added sugar in your dairy products, instead. Be especially wary of fruit-flavored yogurts (where the sugar can add up quickly) and try to keep your ice cream consumption to a minimum.
Eggs are pretty magical— they’re a great source of high-quality protein, healthy fat, and essential vitamins and minerals. They’re also a quick, cheap, nutrient-dense food, making them a great option for both meals and snacks. And at 70 calories for a whole egg (yep, both the white and yolk), these babies fit into just about any diet plan. So what’s the problem?
Well, unfortunately whole eggs get a bad rap in the cholesterol department. And it’s true— egg yolks are a significant source of dietary cholesterol. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be off limits. In fact, research suggests that for most people, the dietary cholesterol in eggs doesn’t have a significant impact on blood cholesterol levels. In fact, eggs may even help to prevent stroke and certain types of macular degeneration, in addition to their overall benefit as part of a healthy diet. (You should note, however, that egg consumption may increase the risk of heart disease in individuals with diabetes, certain vascular conditions, or those that have a family history of heart disease. As always, consult your physician about what dietary choices are right for you.)
Think pasta should be off limits when you’re trying to lose weight? If so, you’re missing out on some seriously great possibilities when it comes to healthy meals. That’s because pasta is actually relatively low on the glycemic index— a value of 0-100 assigned to foods based on how quickly they increase blood glucose levels. Foods with a low glycemic index score tend to release glucose slowly and steadily, leaving you with a sustained, slow-burning source of energy. And for most people, low-glycemic foods are the most effective when it comes to promoting fat loss.
Whole wheat pasta comes in on the glycemic index in the 43-48 range, almost half of where whole wheat bread falls (73-76) and just about neck-and-neck with an orange (43-46). Add to that the fact that pasta is often tossed with lean protein, lots of vegetables, and heart-healthy oils, and it actually makes a great option for part of a healthy diet. (Just make sure to skip the cream-based sauces and heavy cheese— those probably won’t do your waistline any favors.)
What if I told you that dark-meat chicken or turkey (like the legs and thighs) only has about 1 gram of fat and 9 calories more per ounce, compared to it’s white-meat cousins? It’s true. So if you’ve been skipping the drumsticks to drop a few lbs, you’re really missing out on everything dark meat has to offer.
Dark-meat poultry is typically juicier and more flavorful than the white-meat variety, which means you’ll have no problem cutting back on the oil, butter and other additions to help it taste great. And that small amount of additional fat may actually help to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, reducing the risk of overeating later on. Dark meat also contains higher levels of myoglobin, iron, and zinc— providing more immune support than white meat protein. Plus, here’s another nice bonus: dark-meat poultry is usually cheaper than white meat. Anything that gives you a boost in both the weight and wallet department is a win in my book.
Sure, you know that a cup of coffee might be the one thing that gets you up and moving in the morning, but you might be surprised to learn that it can help give you a boost in the weight-loss department, too. That’s because coffee stimulates your brain and nervous system, as well as providing powerful antioxidants that have been shown to improve glucose metabolism— which can help with appetite suppression and may even lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, the caffeine in coffee may also help to boost thermogenesis, not only burning more of your body’s fat stores, but also improving your ability to perform endurance activities like running, biking, and swimming.
Just remember that the benefits we’re talking about here come primarily from black coffee. The cream-and-sugar concoctions that come from the coffee shop on the corner might taste great, but all those additions are canceling out the potential benefits from a plain, ole’ cup of Joe. If you’re looking for a fat-burning boost, keep the pumpkin-spiced-whatevers to a minimum.
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