When we say that these foods "burn fat," we basically mean that they help your BODY to burn fat more efficiently. (Don't go all chemistry-lab on us and try pouring green tea on a stick of butter to see what happens.) Read up on these power foods and some delicious ways to up your intake...
How It Works: A crucial compound in green tea is EGCG (not to be confused with famed music club CBGB), which has been shown to speed up metabolism. The caffeine content helps with that as well. Green tea contains about five times the amount of fat-fighting EGCG as black tea, BTW. And get this... Green tea specifically targets visceral fat, a.k.a. belly fat.
* Mix a little unsweetened iced green tea with sugar-free lemonade (Crystal Light has our vote) for a guilt-free Arnold Palmer with a Kermit-colored twist.
How It Works: Protein and calcium are the power-duo in this equation. These two nutrients help keep your body's muscle mass intact while promoting weight loss. Studies have shown that people on lower-calorie diets that included dairy lost more weight than people who ate the same amount of calories without dairy. Plus, research suggests probiotics found in some low-fat dairy can help your body fight fat. Wowsers!
* Fat-free yogurt is a great source of protein, plus it packs in that calcium. To gussy it up, add fruit and transform it into a parfait! For the most protein, go for fat-free Greek yogurt, like Fage Total 0%.
* Fat-free or low-fat cheese is an excellent (and delicious) example of low-cal dairy. Check out last year's supermarket list for some of our faves!
Pop-Up Tip #1: Drink Water - Think about it this way: When you're drinking water, you're NOT drinking soda, juice, or another calorie-packed beverage. And here's a fun fact: In one study (albeit it a small one), researchers found that the metabolic rates of study participants went up about 25% after drinking a couple cups of water. So get one of those aluminum bottles and keep it filled with H2O.
Beans, Beans, and More Beans
How It Works: Beans have the double-whammy of protein plus fiber. Consuming protein is a GREAT way to help your body burn fat -- it gives your metabolism a boost and keeps you feeling full and energized. And dietary fiber, among other things, can help regulate your appetite. One type of bean in particular worth trying? Soybeans. They contain helpful compounds that assist in keeping the cells in your body from accumulating fat and also break down fatty deposits.
* Make a big batch of this beany salad, and you'll have a great side dish that'll last all week!
* Click here for two hearty, bean-packed recipes you can make in a crock pot: 10-Alarm Turkey Chili and Very VERY Veggie Stew. Woohoo!
How It Works: Munching on whole grains adds fiber and complex carbohydrates (MUCH better than refined, white carbs) to your diet. When the carbs are complex, they break down more slowly, keeping them in your system longer. Since your body processes them slowly, you don't crash. This also keeps your insulin levels steady -- a good thing, since insulin spikes tell your body to hold onto fat.
* OATMEAL. It's a great way to start your day on the right path. Click here for all the oat-y info, recipes, and food finds you could ever hope to have.
Pop-Up Tip #2: Spice It Up - Just 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon added to your food can help prevent insulin spikes (which, as you just read, are BAD). The capsaicin in chilies gives your heart rate a boost and jump-starts your metabolism, so try some cayenne or chili powder. Ginger expands your blood vessels, which helps to -- say it with us -- increase the metabolism.
Salmon and Tuna
How It Works: These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to being good for your heart, hair, nails, etc., those omegas can help control the amount of leptin in your body. Leptin, a protein hormone, is linked to appetite and metabolism. There's a whole, long, scientific chain of reasons for this, but we're just going to accept that it's good and not worry about WHY. Yay, omega-3s!
* Bake some salmon basted in low-cal sauce (teriyaki rules!), top a salad with the canned kind, eat the smoked stuff, mix some into a creamy spread (this recipe is GREAT)... There are SO many possibilities.
Pop-Up Tip #3: Get Your Fruit On - Vitamin C: More than just an adorable pop singer from the '90s. Research has found that people with low levels of C in their systems burn fat less efficiently. So eat citrus fruit! Grapefruit, a super source of vitamin C, also has fiber and not too many calories. Try it in our Ginormous Sweet-tart Fruit Salad. Or if you're not into grapefruit, grab an orange or squeeze some lemon juice onto your salad.
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*The Points® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the Points® registered trademark.
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