Fat-Burning Foods - Part 2
Raw vegetables make an outstanding snack. They satisfy the desire to crunch, they're full of water to help you feel full, and they're low in calories. Half a cup of diced celery has just eight calories. Bonci suggests coating celery with a little peanut butter or dunking carrots in salsa. When you're in the mood for chips and dip, try replacing the chips with raw veggies.
Think of the typical toppings on your baked potato -- butter, sour cream, maybe cheese and bacon bits. If you substitute a sweet potato, you might not need any of that. Baked sweet potatoes are so full of flavor, they require very little embellishment. This can save you loads of calories. As a bonus, sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, beta carotene, vitamin C, and fiber.
Studies suggest eating protein in the morning will keep your hunger at bay longer than eating a bagel or other carbs. One egg has only 75 calories but packs 7 grams of high-quality protein, along with other vital nutrients. Bonci adds that your body will burn more calories digesting eggs than a carb-heavy breakfast. If you have high cholesterol, check with your doctor about how many eggs you can eat per week.
It sounds too good to be true -- one of your favorite beverages may actually help rev the metabolism and help you lose weight. Bonci says coffee does stimulate the metabolism -- a little. She cautions that the effect is small and is easily cancelled out by the extra calories in a mocha cappuccino.
Oatmeal has three things going for it: fiber-rich whole-grain oats, lots of water, and it's hot. Bonci says this is a very filling combination. Hot food takes longer to eat, and all that liquid and fiber will help you feel full longer. "Don't buy the one that's already sweetened," Bonci says. "You can choose how to flavor it." Stirring in cinnamon or nutmeg will give you a sweet taste with less sugar.
Whole-grain rye crackers, sometimes called crispbreads, offer a low-fat, fiber-packed alternative to traditional crackers. Research suggests people who replace refined grains with whole grains tend to have less belly fat. Whole grains also provide a richer assortment of plant nutrients. This doesn't just apply to crackers. You can get the same benefits by switching to whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas.
A standout whole grain is bulgur wheat, the type found in tabouli. It's high in fiber and protein, but low in fat and calories. That helps you fill up with a minimum of calories. Bonci adds that the rich taste makes it satisfying. "It's flavorful, so you don't need to add a lot of oil," she says. To turn this dish into a meal, she suggests adding beans and stirring in extra tomato, cucumber, and parsley.
Soup - we're talking broth-based, not creamy -- is a dieter's friend in several ways. It's full of water, which fills you up with the fewest possible calories. It's hot, which prevents you from guzzling it down too quickly. When eaten before a meal, soup can take up space that might have gone to higher calorie foods. You can also make a satisfying, low-calorie meal out of soup alone by adding chicken, fish, cut-up vegetables, or beans.
If you dress your salad with oil and vinegar, you may get another fat-fighting benefit. More research is needed, but some studies suggest vinegar may help the body break down fat. Whether or not this effect pans out, Bonci says vinegar is a good choice. It's full of flavor that can make salad more satisfying -- and it has no calories.
Nuts are an excellent way to curb hunger between meals. They're high in protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Studies suggest nuts can promote weight loss and improve cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation. The key is to "be careful with quantity," Bonci tells WebMD. "Choose something in a shell, so you have to work harder and slow down."
Three cups of plain, air-popped popcorn may seem like a whole lot, but the calorie content is low. All that air adds volume without adding fat or sugar. "When people are looking to snack, they don't stop at 10 potato chips," Bonci says. They want to have their fill, and a big bowl of popcorn delivers. "It's visually satisfying, plus it takes time to eat."
Beans deliver a nutritional triple punch, Bonci says. They're a vegetable, a protein, and a great source of fiber. This means they'll help you stay full for the price of very few calories. They're also easy to prepare when the munchies strike. Open a can of garbanzo beans and toss them into soup or salad or mash them up to use as a dip. One cup packs 12 grams of fiber, just 4 grams of fat, and 15 grams of protein.