Choosing fat-fighting foods usually means a trip down the produce aisle in your local supermarket, but there are plenty of good alternatives that can help keep your calorie count down.
While veggies are always a good place to start, we've added some surprise choices from other sections of the grocery store that can help you whittle your middle.
These bivalve mollusks are loaded with lean protein. Steam them in water with a little white wine—the alcohol will cook off—for a fast meal. Another upside to mussels is that they take some time to eat, forcing you to eat slower.
This gives your internal satiety sensors time to register the food you're eating, so you end up eating less.
Despite initially being banned from fat-loss diets because of their high fat content, almonds offer the satiating trio of fiber, protein and dietary fat. Research has also shown that almonds have 20 percent fewer calories than was initially thought.
Thought mainly thought of as a seasonal dessert indulgence, pumpkin is packed with fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. Canned pumpkin—which contains no added sugar—is available year-round and can be used to make low-carb pancakes, a protein-packed pumpkin pie, or tossed in a smoothie with some whey, walnuts and cinnamon.
This earthy-tasting nutritional powerhouse is loaded with compounds called nitrates. Nitrates help increase vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) and boost your performance in the gym. The harder you work in the gym, the more calories you'll burn, and the leaner you'll get.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats. In a study published in "Diabetes Care," these fats were shown to reduce deep abdominal fat when used to replace dietary saturated fat. Avocados are also a good source of fiber.
You don't need to be fancy with your avocados: Slice one in half, sprinkle on a little salt, eat with a spoon, and enjoy the yummy goodness knowing your body approves as much as your taste buds do.
Arnold once said that milk was for babies but men drink beer. You may think the same is true for cheese sticks, but they're not a childish snack. They're portable, proportioned and contain significant protein. Pair them with a small piece of fruit for a great fat-loss snack on the go.
This fermented hybrid of milk and yogurt delivers the powerful combination of protein and probiotics. It's 99 percent lactose-free because the beneficial bacteria in kefir pre-digests the lactose for you, making it a good alternative to milk for the lactose-intolerant.
The average American consumes more protein from bread than fish! This may have something to do with the perceived difficulty associated with cooking fish. Sardines require no cooking; you just eat them out of the tin. They also have an extended shelf-life and are very portable.
A Spanish study found that eating oily fish like sardines three times per week while dieting led to improvements in leptin, a hormone released from fat cells that regulates appetite and body fat levels.
Grapefruit diet scams and the fear of fructose making you fat may have turned you off from grapefruit as a fat-burning food, but it's time to take a second look. A study conducted at the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic found that eating half a grapefruit with meals accelerated fat loss. Make sure to eat the white parts of the grapefruit as well, as this pith contains high amounts of soluble fiber.
Time to raid your grandmother's pantry! Prunes were once thought to be useful only for curing constipation, but they have health benefits and can aid you in your pursuit of a lean body. Prunes contain soluble fiber, which helps with blood sugar control and satiety. They're also loaded with anthocyanins—powerful antioxidants most commonly found in pomegranates and blueberries.
While anthocyanins can be poorly absorbed by your digestive tract, that isn't necessarily bad news, as unabsorbed anthocyanins are used to fuel the healthy bacteria in your gut. Curating the best bacteria in your gut is key for developing and maintaining a lean physique.
Cold Cooked Potatoes
Cooking and then cooling potatoes before you eat them—potato salad, anyone?— leads to the retrograde formation of resistant starch. Resistant starch can help improve insulin sensitivity and enhance satiety, two important factors in optimizing fat loss.
Canola oil is one-third polyunsaturated fats, a mixture of both omega-3 and omega-6. A 2014 study conducted at Uppsala University in Sweden found that opting for polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats when overeating—say, during a bulking phase—led to less fat gain and more muscle gain over seven weeks.
- Novatny, J. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2012.
- Lovejoy, J. Diabetes Care, August 2002.
- Parra, D. Appetite, November 2008.
- Fujioka, K. Journal of Medicinal Food, 2006.