These filling, snackable bites can help keep your blood sugar steady. A study from the University of Toronto found that people who ate almonds with white bread didn’t experience the same blood sugar surges as those who ate just the slice. And the higher blood sugar levels rise, the lower they fall; that dip leads to hunger, causing people to overeat. Plus, blood sugar changes cause the body to make insulin, which can increase abdominal fat. Eat almonds on their own, or in almond-butter form.
An apple a day can keep weight gain at bay, finds a study from Penn State University at University Park. People who chomped an apple before a pastameal ate fewer calories overall than those who had a different snack. Credit their high-fiber status—4 to 5 g each—which fills you up. Plus, the antioxidants in apples may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by excess belly fat or an “apple shape.”
According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,bean eaters weigh less and have slimmer middles. Beans are super fat fighters because they contain the ideal combination of fat-busting nutrients—soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, and a type of fat-burning carb called resistant starch.
Cauliflower is also a vitamin C standout: Just 1/2 cup nets you 36 percent of your daily needs. Plus, this cruciferous veggie is a proven cancer fighter—it’s been linked to a lower risk of colorectal, lung and stomach cancers. And like almost all veggies, cauliflower is low in calories while still offering filling fiber. This veggie is also super versatile and can make a great replacement for heavier foods. Try cauliflower roasted until crispy as a side dish to burgers or sandwiches, mashed up with a little trans-fat-free margarine to mimic mashed potatoes, or pureed and added to soups instead of cream.
Everything is nice about this spice. Just 1/2 teaspoon each day can help control your blood sugar and prevent the postmeal insulin spike that can trigger your body to store fat rather than burn it. You can also use cinnamon to bring out the natural sweetness in foods, rather than adding calories from sugar. All spices help you trim down when used to add flavor to foods instead of oil, butter and calorie-laden condiments.
Raise your mug to higher metabolism! The caffeine in coffee can raise your resting metabolic rate by about 15 percent, and the effect can last up to four hours—that adds up to 30 to 50 calories burned per day. Plus, people who sip 3 to 4 cups of regular or decaf coffee per day are 30 percent less prone to type 2 diabetes. Chlorogenic acid, found in coffee, may help prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to obesity and diabetes.
One half cup lowfat cottage cheese offers up 14 g protein for only 81 calories. Studies show that protein can help you feel more satisfied throughout the day, which can help you keep your calories in check without feeling deprived. According to a study from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, women who ate more protein (30 percent of total daily calories) kept more lean muscle, which revs your metabolism, and reported greater perceived satisfaction while cutting calories than women who ate less protein (18 percent of calories).
Women on a low-calorie diet who ate an egg with toast and jelly each morning lost twice as many pounds as those who had a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories but no eggs, a study from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge reports. Egg protein is filling, so you eat less later in the day. Anddon’t be afraid of yolks—they won’t harm your heart.
Cooking your meals with garlic may help keep you from . Overweight people who sprinkled their food with the zero-calorie spice lost an average of 30 pounds in six months, compared to only a 2-pound loss in the control group. Strong flavors like garlic may make food more enjoyable so you feel fuller faster.
Lentils are a bona fide belly flattener. They’re high in protein and soluble fiber, two nutrients that stabilize blood sugar levels. Eating them helps prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat, especially in the abdominal area. There are many varieties of lentils, but red and yellow cook fastest (in about 15 to 20 minutes). Add cooked lentils to pasta sauce for a heartier dish. Their mild flavor blends right in, and because they’re high in protein, you canskip meat altogether.
Like avocados, olive oil has healthy fat that increases satiety, taming your appetite. But that’s hardly its only slimming feature. Research shows it has anti-inflammatory properties, and chronic inflammation in the body is linked to metabolic syndrome. Drizzle your salad with olive oil and you’ll increase the antioxidant power of your veggies, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition notes.
Women who had one serving of whole milk or cheese daily were less likely to gain weight over time, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfinds. Whole dairy may have more conjugated linoleic acid, which might help your body burn fat. And Parmesan is so flavorful, it’s easier to stick to one serving.
Pears deliver a dose of fiber (about 5.5 grams per medium-sized fruit), which helps keep you satisfied long after you eat them. But that’s not where their fat-fighting power ends. A Brazilian research team found that a group of women who included pears in their diet each day lost more weight than the group who included oat cookies—even though the pears and the oat cookies had the same number of calories. Slice pears up and dip them into nonfat plain yogurt for a snack, dice them and add them to salads, or poach them for dessert.
Portobellos are naturally low in calories and have a “meaty” texture. Use them in place of beef in savory dishes to cut fat (and calories). One cup of portobelloslices contains fewer than 20 calories and virtually no fat. Chop them up finely and replace half of the lean ground beef in your burger, meatballs or meat loaf with ‘shrooms to cut the fat and calories. Or slice up a portobello and toss it into a stir-fry in place of protein to reduce the calories without losing flavor!
Curbing hunger is as easy as piling your plate with this whole grain. It packs both fiber (2.6 g per 1/2 cup) and protein, a stellar nutrient combo that can keep you satisfied for hours. Serve quinoa instead of rice with stir-fries, or cook 1/2 cup quinoa in 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup orange juice for 15 minutes and top with 1 tbsp each of raisins and chopped walnuts for a warm, satisfying breakfast.
Red bell peppers
These sweet veggies are super sources of vitamin C, and adequate intake of the nutrient has been associated with having a smaller waist. Plus, C has been shown to bolster immunity and prevent cell damage. Slice up peppers and toss them into soups, sandwiches or salads. Just half a pepper offers up 75 milligrams of C, the recommended daily dose.
Whenever you munch, your body releases a hormone called cholecystokinin, which tightens the valve between your stomach and your intestine. As a result, CCK boosts feelings of fullness—making you less apt to overeat. Tomatoescontain oligofructose, a fiber that helps sustain the effects of CCK in your stomach. Bonus: Lycopene, a compound found in tomatoes, has been shown to protect you against sunburn and may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Don’t be shy; drizzle away. Vinegar provides a simple, practically calorie-free way to add flavor to a wide variety of foods (it’s great in anything from soup to sliced strawberries), and research indicates it might also increase feeling of satisfaction after a meal. According to a 2005 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, healthy volunteers fed white bread along with vinegar had lower blood sugar and insulin responses and felt fuller than volunteers fed only white bread. Lower insulin levels can prevent an abrupt drop in blood sugar, which would otherwise trigger hunger. And feeling fuller on the same amount of food can help you stick to your healthy eating plan.
Not only do fish fats keep your heart healthy, but they shrink your waist, too. Omega-3 fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity—which helps build muscle and decrease belly fat. And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns. Opt for wild salmon; it may contain fewer pollutants.
Dietitians often refer to plain yogurt as the perfect food, and for good reason: With its trifecta of carbs, protein and fat, it can stave off hunger by keeping blood sugar levels steady. In a study from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, those on a low-calorie diet that included yogurt lost 61 percent more fat overall and 81 percent more belly fat than those on a similar plan but without yogurt.