It’s time for a new slim-down mantra: Eat more to weigh less. The right foods help you drop up to two pounds a week by revving your calorie burn and curbing cravings.
Ever hear that water can help you lose a few extra pounds? It can—if you eat foods that contain a lot of water, like fruits and veggies. In a University of Tokyo study, women who ate high-water-content foods had lower body mass indexes and smaller waistlines. Researchers speculate that the water in these foods may fill you up so you eat less. Make the strategy work for you by adding more of these in-season fruits and veggies—each is at least 90% water—to your meals.
Skip the bagel this morning. Eggs, which are full of protein, will help you feel fuller longer-a lot longer. A multicenter study of 30 overweight or obese women found that those who ate two scrambled eggs (with two slices of toast and a reduced-calorie fruit spread) consumed less for the next 36 hours than women who had a bagel breakfast of equal calories. Other research has shown that protein may also prevent spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to food cravings.
An apple a day can keep weight gain at bay. People who chomped an apple before a pasta meal ate fewer calories overall than those who had a different snack. Plus, the antioxidants in apples may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by excess belly fat.
Apples are the ideal on-the-go low-calorie snack. For a pie-like treat, chop up a medium apple and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Pop in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
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.
Use low-fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise in chicken or potato salad, or top a baked potato with a bit of yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. You’ll save 4.7 grams of fat per tablespoon. Look for Greek yogurt, which has more protein than other versions.
The slimming ingredient isn’t caffeine. Antioxidants called catechins are what help speed metabolism and fat burning. In a recent Japanese study, 35 men who drank a bottle of oolong tea mixed with green tea catechins lost weight, boosted their metabolism, and had a significant drop in their body mass index. Health bonus: The participants also lowered their (bad) LDL cholesterol.
Chew more to curb hunger. That’s what researchers concluded in a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in which they asked participants to chew a 2-ounce serving of almonds 10, 25 or 40 times. Participants got maximum satisfaction—they felt fuller longer—from the nuts when they chewed 40 times. Chewing more may cause a greater release of fat from the almonds, which triggers hormones that curb hunger.
They’re now recognized as having more fiber, thanks to a corrected calculation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At six grams (formerly four grams) per medium-size pear, they’re great at filling you up. Apples come in second, with about three grams per medium-size fruit. Both contain pectin fiber, which decreases blood-sugar levels, helping you avoid between-meal snacking. This may explain why, in a Brazilian study that lasted 12 weeks, overweight women who ate three small pears or apples a day lost more weight than women on the same diet who ate three oat cookies daily instead of the fruit.
It’s a great filler-upper. In a Swedish study, researchers found that people who ate bread dipped in vinegar felt fuller than those who had their slices plain. The probable reason: Acetic acid in the vinegar may slow the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine, so your tummy stays full longer. Vinegar can also short-circuit the swift blood-sugar rise that occurs after you eat refined carbs such as white bread, cookies, and crackers.
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. 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. Or toss pasta with a few teaspoons of olive oil, fresh basil and sautéed garlic.
It’s what’s for dinner-or should be, if you’re trying to shed pounds. The amino acid leucine, which is abundant in proteins like meat and fish as well as in dairy products, can help you pare down while maintaining calorie-burning muscle. That’s what it did for 24 overweight middle-aged women in a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eating anywhere from nine to 10 ounces of beef a day on a roughly 1,700-calorie diet helped the women lose more weight, more fat, and less muscle mass than a control group consuming the same number of calories, but less protein. The beef eaters also had fewer hunger pangs.