Leafy green vegetables
It will come as no surprise that vegetables will be high on the priority list when it comes to a healthy diet. However, is it true that some are better for weight loss than others? According to experts, we should be choosing dark leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard and spinach – they’re all high in the anti-stress nutrient magnesium. Stress has a direct connection to weight management and fat-burning capabilities. They’re also high in fibre and help you feel full, as well as being packed full of antioxidants.
Pulses are a group of dry seeds that include split peas, lentils, chickpeas, and dried beans. Whilst they’re packed with micronutrients and macronutrients, one of the main reasons dieters like them is their ability to ‘fill you up’. These dry seeds are also a superb source of plant-based protein, a macronutrient that helps boost metabolism and build muscle while scorching fat.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries are high in fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C, and they all have a low energy density. Berries are high in polyphenols, which can help you burn fat and, in some cases, even stop it from forming. Although fruits and berries are among the healthiest foods you can find, you need to be careful not to over-eat. Remember, if you are on a low-carb diet, fruit is still pretty high in carbs, as well as sugar.
Watch out for the juice myth though…
There are juice diets out there promising that you can lose “7lbs in 7 Days” and on a pure juicing diet that can certainly happen. But most of that weight loss is going to be water. The reason is that your body keeps a special store of emergency fuel locked up in your muscles and liver in a form called glycogen. This also binds water. When you stop eating your body burns through the glycogen stores, releasing the water. Not surprisingly, once you start eating normally, your body will replenish its water and glycogen stories and much of the weight will come back on.
…On the topic of water retention, cider vinegar is not only a diuretic, (it makes you pass urine) it’s also a good anti-inflammatory so can help reduce swelling in the abdomen. Use as a salad dressing or drink a spoonful at mealtimes.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse so are great for your overall health – they contain selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Whilst the yolks contain more calories that the whites, when eaten together, eggs are a great weight loss food. Studies have shown that egg-based breakfasts reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness for several hours in overweight and obese individuals. Eating eggs several times a week can help you burn fat while keeping you full and satisfied.
Whilst fatty or ‘oily’ fish don’t sound great for a diet, they actually contain omega-3 fatty acids that have been proven in studies to promote fat loss. Fish is also rich in protein, which helps you feel full and boosts metabolic rate during digestion. Some of the most common oily fish you can safely select in your muscle-mass building diet are salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and prawns.
Lean red meat
A common misconception is that red meat is bad for you. Not so. According to experts, lean red meat contains just a bit more saturated fat than a similar-sized skinless chicken breast. However, did you know that red meat contains a higher nutritional value than white meat, as it contains a protein called myoglobin, which gives meat this darker red colour? Myoglobin’s primary function is to store oxygen in muscle cells, so that they function efficiently. Not such an unhealthy option after all.
Chicken is one of the most popular meat proteins for those looking to burn fat because it’s low in fat, high in protein and incredibly nutritious. Chicken keeps you feeling fuller for a longer time, because the high levels of protein helps the body burn fat more effectively. Chicken will always be a firm favourite with dieters and rightly so. It’s also one of the more versatile meats to prepare and can be used in a number of hot and cold low calorie dishes – lunch and dinner.
However, try to remember that we all burn fat and build lean muscle at different speeds because our metabolisms all work differently. If you're not sure how much you should be eating, consult your GP before embarking on a weight loss campaign.