A lot of people talk about foods that can help you burn fat so I thought I’d give you a little information on a few of my favourites:
Green tea contains caffeine which is a stimulant and thermogenic agent which helps to increase energy expenditure i.e.you burn more calories! Green Tea also contains a catechin (chemical compound) called EGCG which actively helps your body burn more fat for a longer period of time! Pretty neat huh?
There are plenty of research studies to back this up which also note that green tea reduces levels of Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs) in your blood – this is your BAD cholesterol! So if you like drinking hot water, I highly recommend it!
Many people know that chillies can help you burn a little extra fat but the question is how? In fact there are several ways. Firstly its no secret that really spicy food can make you physically hot and often make you sweat. This is because of its thermogenic effect. Capsaicin is the chemical in chilli (red) peppers that makes them spicy, it stimulates a natural process whereby some of the food we eat at each meal is converted immediately to heat. This means that calories are burned up straight away rather than being stored in the body. Capsaicin also increases the body’s metabolic rate and fat-burning through its ability to raise levels of norepin-ephrine (which primarily increases your heart rate).
Chillies have also been found to significantly decrease hunger and thus help you reduce your overall caloric intake. So let’s get spicy!
Ginger is a root with numerous properties that make it an effective treatment for inflammation, nausea and motion sickness. It’s also a valuable aid for fat loss. Research shows that both fresh and dry ginger increase metabolic rate and lactic acid production by muscle. Since lactic acid stimulates growth hormone (GH) release and GH increases lipolysis, this is another fat-loss benefit of ginger.
TOP TIP: A great way of including chillies and ginger in your diet is by adding them to a stir fry! Stir fries are an extremely healthy, quick and easy way of including a lot of vegetables, spices and protein (meat, fish or tofu) into your diet. If you’re really clever, you’ll cook enough for tomorrow’s lunch too!
A 12-week study, by Dr. Ken Fujioka, monitored weight and metabolic factors, such as insulin secretion, of the 100 men and women who participated in the Scripps Clinic ‘Grapefruit Diet’ study. On average, participants who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank a serving of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds. The research indicated a physiological link between grapefruit and insulin. According to them the chemical properties of grapefruit reduce insulin levels and encourage weight loss. The smaller the insulin spike after a meal, the more efficiently the body processes food for use as energy and the less it’s stored as fat in the body.
Half a grapefruit for breakfast alongside your porridge is a great way to include this into your diet!
I know some of you have heard me talk about the benefits of cinnamon! It basically works in a similar way to grapefruit in that it has been proven to help regulate levels of insulin in the blood. This will reduce the amount of fat you store in your body.
Cinnamon is a great way of adding flavour to bland foods such as porridge and cereal! It can also be added to hot drinks, smoothies, yoghurt and more.
The most thermogenic (gives off energy as heat) of solid foods is lean protein. Examples include: chicken & turkey breast, game meats, almost all fish, shellfish, egg whites (whole eggs too). Research has proven that the thermic effect of protein is the highest of all the macronutrients, requiring about 30% of the calories it contains, just for digestion and processing. An added bonus is that lean protein foods suppress your appetite!
There are many health benefits to coconut oil, including weight loss, improved cholesterol levels among others such as hair care, skin care, digestion, immune system and many more. Firstly, coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids which are much easier used by the body for energy than your usual long chain fatty acids. This can result in an increase in your metabolism of up to 65% for 24 hours compared to other fats!
Coconut oil slows down the digestion of food, which helps you feel fuller after a meal and thus suppress your appetite for longer. Because it slows digestion, it also helps prevent blood sugar fluctuations which prevents insulin spikes and fat storage. So start cooking with coconut oil or include it in smoothies! Organic, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil is the best choice since it preserves all the natural goodness of the oil.
Cocoa & Apple-Cider Vinegar
I’ve put these 2 together because they have very similar effects. They both help to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels. This should be of great in managing both weight loss and diabetes.
This occurs naturally in the body but can also be taken as a supplement. It basically acts as a genetic switch that affects the activity of genes involved in fat metabolism. Recent studies have shown it to result in profound weight loss by reducing food intake and increasing energy expenditure.
I preach it all the time and here’s why. Our bodies are roughly 80% water. Most of the chemical reactions within our body (making up our metabolism) take place in water, this includes the oxidation of fat! We also store water between our adipose (fat) tissue which means that the better hydrated you are, the easier your body can access fat and the easier it is to break it down!
The average person loses 1 to 1 and half litres of water every night, plus going to the toilet and all that exercise, you need to be well hydrated. So make sure you drink regularly throughout the day aiming for at least 2 to 3 litres, especially on training days!
There are other supplements and foods out there which can also be of help. These were just a few of my favourites and ones that are generally quite easy to include in your diet. Others worth noting are essential fatty acids (omega 3 & 6) found in fish oils, carnitine, the supplement CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), black pepper and yerba mate.
Remember to eat small meals, often and stay away from processed foods!!