It can actually help you cut back on calories. That's because capsaicin, a compound found in jalapeno and cayenne peppers, may (slightly) increase your body's release of stress hormones such as adrenaline, which can speed up your ability to burn calories. What's more, eating hot peppers may help slow you down. You're less likely to wolfed down that plate of spicy spaghetti —— and therefore stay more mindful of when you're full. Some great adds: Ginger, turmeric, black pepper, oregano, and jalapenos.
“A study by David Jenkins, MD, PhD—the University of Toronto pioneer in low-glycemic eating — demonstrates that eating small portions at frequent intervals is good for your health in a number of remarkable ways. Within the study, they found that people who ate every three hours reduced their blood cholesterol by over 15% and their blood insulin by almost 28%. That’s key, because in addition to regulating your blood sugar level, insulin plays a pivotal role in fat metabolism, inflammation and the progression to metabolic syndrome. When your body produces less insulin, you’re much less likely to convert dietary calories into body fat.
Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
Who doesn’t want a flat belly, stat? Yet hours of crunches, cardio, and super strict dieting aren’t realistic—or a whole lot of fun—for many of us. Luckily, it is possible to flatten your belly and look slimmer almost immediately. “Your stomach is the one part of your body that reacts quickly to dietary changes—good and bad. If you want to look thinner fast, avoid gassy veggies, chewing gum, salt, carbonated beverages, and any foods with sugar alcohols,” says Erin Palin ski, RD and certified personal trainer. These foods will lead to water retention and bloating, she explains. If you normally eat three larger meals a day, Palin ski recommends cutting those portions in half and eating smaller meals every two to three hours.
Chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your weight-loss efforts. “Your hunger hormones reset when you sleep, too, so if you’re deprived of quality and quantity sleep, you’re behind the eight ball when you first wake up, and more likely to crave junk food and carbs,” Jackson says. Sleep is also when your muscles repair post-workout, so it’s even more important to get enough once you’ve started your workout routine. “Quantity is good, but quality is also important,” Jackson says. “Sleep hormones are naturally released around 8 or 9pm, so by going to bed at 10 or so, you’ll feel more replenished because you’ll have slept during the window for best quality.”
We often think that if we can just discover the “right” combination of foods, we’ll magically lose weight or maintain what we’ve lost. There are low-fat diets, low-carb diets, low glycemic diets, Paleo diets, and a lot of iterations of all of these. Jensen points out that in fact there doesn’t seem to be any “right” diet, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that one particular diet will work better with an individual’s specific metabolism. “The big myth out there,” he says, “is that there’s a magical combination of foods – be it protein, vegetarian, and what have you – that’s going to be unique because of its unique interaction with your metabolism. We know pretty much that any diet will help you lose weight if you follow it. There’s no magic diet. The truth is that ALL Diets will work if you follow them.”
The reason we’re suggesting 45 minutes instead of the typical 30 is that a Duke University study found that while 30 minutes of daily walking is enough to prevent weight gain in most relatively sedentary people, exercise beyond 30 minutes results in weight and fat loss. Burning an additional 300 calories a day with three miles of brisk walking (45 minutes should do it) could help you lose 30 pounds in a year without even changing how much you’re eating.
“It seems so simple, but 45 to 60 minutes of brisk walking every day can do wonders for your metabolism,” Sahmura Gonzalez, a master trainer at Crunch Fitness in New York City, recently told Prevention. “Plus, it ensures that you don’t over-train, which can lead to an over-production of cortisol—a stress hormone that’s been shown to contribute to belly fat.”
Grains get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, but that's because refined grains (read: processed foods!) are linked to wider waists. 100% whole grains are bloat-busting superstars, however, as they're packed with minerals and de-puff by counter-balancing salt. Stick to brown rice, quinoa, wheat, barley, millet, farro, sorghum, and amaranth for the biggest benefits.
4. Eat the Whole Thing. Whole foods, that is! You want to give your body the cleanest fuel possible so it can run at maximum efficiency. When you want to shed all you can, you want to avoid anything processed (for salt-related reasons above.) Raw vegetables, fruits, whole grains and proteins like cold water fish, beans, and eggs should be your staple diet if you’re working on trimming down. You’ll also want to limit your fat intake to “healthy fats” only. This includes fats from olive oil, nuts and avocados. These “good”, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually be beneficial to your heart and help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. In fact, research done at Harvard found that while bad fats like saturated and trans fats increased risk factors for certain diseases, total amount of “good” fats did not. In fact, eating “good” fat can help you burn fat. In another Harvard study, researchers found that participants who ate 20% of their calories from “good” fats dropped 5 pounds more after 18 months than the participants who went on low fat diets.
We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
And what fat loss comes down to is simply a caloric deficit. Which means either burning more calories, eating less calories, or a combination of the two. And when you get down to it, it’s just a whole lot easier for most people to eat (for example) 500 less calories per day than it will be for them to try to burn those same 500 calories every single day. That’s why diet alone gets the job done just fine, and diet and exercise combined gets the job done too. But exercise alone? That’s the least effective of the group by far.
Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with some refined sugar, turn to berries and enjoy a slimmer waistline in no time. 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 berry-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.