5 incredible weight-loss secrets
Losing weight is as much about what you do eat as what you don’t. Some foods can almost melt away fat, while others pack it on. Try these 5 incredible weight-loss secrets for a slimmer, trimmer you.
1. Sip some green tea
Green tea comes from the same plant that black and oolong teas do. They’re just processed differently. If you love the full-bodied taste of black and oolong teas, you may be tempted to think the green is too weak. But “weak” probably isn’t the right word. Green tea is loaded with potent phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Some studies suggest the antioxidants in green tea, called catechin polyphenols, might help with weight loss by restricting the activity of amylase, a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme in saliva. Researchers think this action may slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which prevents the sudden rise of insulin in the blood and makes you burn fat instead of storing it. Others suggest the polyphenols in green tea increase your metabolism, helping you burn extra calories.
But here’s the catch. You can melt pounds away with green tea, but not necessarily by just drinking it. You would have to drink an awful lot to get the dose of fat-burning ingredients the participants in research studies received. In fact, they weren’t drinking green tea. They were getting large doses of its active ingredients in green tea extract capsules.
But they did lose weight. In one study, after four weeks, the green tea group had lost three times as much weight as the placebo group — not to mention significantly greater losses in waist size.
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The National Institutes of Health sponsored one of the most recent studies. In this study, 70 moderately obese adults were given two capsules of green tea extract twice a day, containing a daily total of 375 milligrams of catechin. After three months, their body weight dropped 4.6 percent — that’s almost 10 pounds if you began at 200 — and 4.48 percent off their waist — 2.25 inches if you began at 50 inches.
Read Sip away stress with tension-taming tea for more about how tea can reduce stress.
2. Indulge in dark chocolate
Thank the Danes. A Danish study found dark chocolate makes you feel more sated than milk chocolate. Young men who ate the dark treats ate 15 percent fewer calories when they sat down to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet two and one-half hours later, compared to those who ate milk chocolate. So when you crave sweet, go dark.
3. Aim for more arginine
Your body uses arginine to make nitric oxide, and together they help burn fat and prevent it from being stored. Rats given arginine as part of their diet gained less fat, particularly belly fat, than regular rats. Arginine did, however, beef up their muscles. Experts think this natural compound affects how your body uses energy, building muscle with it rather than storing it as fat.
The body naturally makes this amino acid, but you can get it from food, too. Canned light tuna, tilapia, spinach, roasted pumpkin seeds, walnuts, raisins, and chicken breast are all good sources.
4. Try a few chili peppers
In a Japanese study, people who ate a steaming, spicy soup 10 minutes before their lunch ate fewer calories during the meal. On top of that, those who ate soup that was as spicy as they could comfortably stand also ate fewer fat grams. Another study got similar results with spicy tomato juice 30 minutes before a meal. In both studies, participants ate until they were full, but needed fewer calories to feel satisfied.
Even better, this natural appetite suppressant may last a long time. Canadian researchers report that a pepper-laced breakfast not only reduced hunger all morning, but it also cut the protein and fat people ate at lunch.
There are a couple of nutrients in peppers that may hold the key to these weight-saving benefits.
- Capsaicin, the spicy compound in hot peppers, squashes the growth of fat cells and even kills them. Rats fed high-fat diets laced with capsaicin didn’t gain weight, whereas those without it did.
- Chili peppers might also help you avoid weight gain, thanks to their vitamin C. One researcher suspects low blood levels of vitamin C may cause people to gain more weight over time. And, in fact, a study suggests low vitamin C levels limit your body’s ability to burn fat. Another study even associated low blood levels of vitamin C with thicker waists and more body fat.
5. Hold the MSG
It’s often added to processed, prepackaged foods for flavor, but a Chinese study found the more MSG people eat, the more likely they are to be overweight. In fact, people who used the most were nearly three times as likely to be overweight as those using the least. Experts say the seasoning may damage the part of the brain that controls appetite and affect your hormones in ways that contribute to obesity.
- FC&A Staff Writer