Imagine, if you will, that there was an aisle in the grocery store clearly labeled 'Metabolism Boosters'. What would you find there? Coke? I don't think so. Ice cream? Heck no! Brown bread? Umm... also a no-no.
The following 10 foods could act similar to the way a thermogenic or a cardio session in how they affect the body. These foods can ramp up your metabolism, and in essence, can assist you in burning fat whilst also maintaining a healthy, longer lasting life. And who wouldn't want that?
How many people blame their genetic pre-disposition on their slow metabolism? Or, how many people say that their partner can take off weight easily when they work harder and still stay stagnant because of their metabolism? By having these foods in the right portions and at the right times of the day, you'll be helping yourself in your own weight-loss, muscle-gain ventures.
'Antioxidant' seems to be the new buzzword of this decade. Everyone needs more antioxidants. Everyone wants more antioxidants. Everyone buys foods with antioxidants; but do we know what they are?
Oxidation is a chemical process within your body whereby electrons are taken off a substance via a chemical reaction. When your body undergoes oxidative stress, such as when you're sick, have a disease or after a workout, the product from this oxidation is known as a 'free radical'.
When free radicals start to build up in your body because they're not cleared, they start to damage cells which can lead to inhibited muscle growth, fat loss or even cause disease. Good thing we have antioxidants like blueberries! Antioxidants help prevent this oxidation from taking place, and thus prevents the build up of free radicals.
Almonds are truly one of nature's miracle foods. You get such a big bang for your buck. First of all, almonds are nutritionally dense. This means that for a small portion size, you get a large amount of healthy macronutrients and calories (but GOOD calories).
Independent studies have shown that almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut; so almonds provide the most healthy calories and nutrition for the smallest serving size. You get the most nutrition possible out of the calories you eat.
One serving of almonds, or about a handful, is an excellent source of vitamin E (an antioxidant) and a good source of fiber (which helps keep you full). Almonds also offer heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Nine clinical studies over the last thirteen years have shown that almonds can lower cholesterol as part of a diet low in saturated fat. These groundbreaking studies show how a handful of almonds a day consistently lowered LDL cholesterol levels. Eating almonds is a filling snack. Almonds contain protein, fiber and monounsaturated fat, all which may help keep you satisfied.
3. Whey Protein
Whey protein (the highest quality and best form of protein) is incredible stuff. It provides the body with the necessary building blocks to produce amino acids that are used for building muscle tissue.
Nearly everyone who weight trains knows the importance of protein supplementation. Studies have been conducted that compare whey protein to other sources. They have found that whey protein contains the perfect combination of overall amino acid (the building blocks of protein) makeup, and in just the right concentrations for optimal performance in the body.
Both hormonal and cellular responses seem to be greatly enhanced with supplementation of whey protein as well. Not to mention the benefits whey protein has on the body's immune system.
Whey protein also plays a role as an antioxidant and helps support a healthy immune system. Most importantly, consistent whey protein intake coupled with exercise will result in consistent muscle building and potential fat loss.
Although it's higher in calories than most whitefish, salmon is low in saturated fat, yet high in protein, and a unique type of health-promoting fat, the omega-3 essential fatty acid.
As their name implies, essential fatty acids are essential for human health but because they cannot be made by the body, they must be obtained from foods.
Fish contain a type of essential fatty acid called the omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like salmon are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than warm water fish. In addition to being an excellent source of omega-3s, salmon are an excellent source of selenium, and a very good source of protein, niacin and vitamin B12, and a good source of phosphorous, magnesium and vitamin B6.
The omega-3 fats found in salmon have a broad array of beneficial cardiovascular (heart) effects. Omega-3s help prevent erratic heart rhythms, make blood less likely to clot inside arteries (the prominent cause of heart attacks and strokes), improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, and can help prevent the clogging of arteries.
5. Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk comes from the crushed seeds of the Plantago ovata plant. Similar to oats and wheat, psyllium is rich in soluble fiber. The benefits of soluble fiber include: Promoting regular bowel movement and preventing constipation, removing toxic waste through colon in less time, helping to prevent colon cancer by keeping an optimal pH in intestines to prevent microbes from producing cancerous substances, and keeping you full for longer by creating bulk in the stomach.
Traditionally, psyllium husk was used as a gentle bulk-forming laxative for constipation. But more recently, psyllium has been recognized for its potential role in reducing blood cholesterol. Studies have shown that psyllium husk is effective in lowering total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein or LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels.
According to the FDA, "3g to 12g soluble fiber from psyllium seed husk when included as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
First and foremost, you'll get forearms like Popeye. That was a joke. Leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food.
By eating spinach, you'll be protecting yourself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time. And if the physical benefits aren't enough, you also get mental improvements.
In animal studies, researchers have found that spinach may help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related related declines in brain function. Researchers found that feeding aging laboratory animals spinach-rich diets significantly improved both their learning capacity and motor skills
Turkey is naturally low in fat without the skin, containing only 1 gram of fat per ounce of flesh. A 5-ounce serving provides almost half of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid, and is a good source of vitamins B, B1, B6, zinc and potassium.
These nutrients have been found to keep blood cholesterol down, protect against birth defects, cancer and heart disease, aid in nerve function and growth, boost the immune system, regulate blood pressure, and assist in healing processes.
Turkey is also extremely high in protein, which is great for build muscle and losing fat because it keeps the metabolism revving, and helps fuel the muscles before, during and after a workout.
Just to clarify, I'm not talking about the sugar-laden single-servings packages of instant oatmeal that come in a million different flavors. I'm talking about plain, boring, large, slow-cooking rolled oats.
Oats are a great source of both insoluble (discussed earlier) and soluble fiber (will be discussed). Insoluble fiber's cancer-fighting properties are due to the fact that it attacks certain bile acids, reducing their toxicity.
Soluble fiber may reduce LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL cholesterol. LDL is bad; HDL is good. Soluble fiber also slows down the digestion of starch. This may be beneficial to diabetics because, when you slow down the digestion of starch, you avoid the sharp rises in your blood sugar level (insulin spikes) that usually occur following a meal.
It has been found that those who eat more oats are less likely to develop heart disease, a disease that is currently widespread in the United States. The phytochemicals in oat may also have cancer-fighting properties. Oats are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oats are also a good source of protein.
Almost 2/3rds of our body weight is "water weight". Blood is 83% water. Muscles are 75% water, the brain is 74% water, and bone is 22% water. So what do you think happens when we aren't adequately hydrated? Our bodily processes can't function optimally. We're depriving them of an essential nutrient.
Without chemicals, additives, or anything unnatural, a steady dose of 8 glasses of water a day (ideally 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water) will: Improve your energy, increase your mental and physical performance, remove toxins & waste products from your body, keep skin healthy and glowing, help you lose weight, reduce headaches and dizziness, allow for proper digestion, and help to keep you more Alkaline (prevents the build up of acids).
10. Green Tea
Green tea originated in China, but it's caught on like wildfire across continents from Europe to North America. Chinese green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Research indicates that polyphenols may have antioxidant characteristics with potential health benefits. They may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Polyphenols have also been investigated as a source of additional health benefit in organic produce. EGCG in particular, is a powerful anti-oxidant. Evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters.
In November, 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract (EGCG) burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.
Sipping on green tea may also help keep your appetite at bay because you're sipping on a hot liquid, and filling up your stomach. The only warning is that most brands of green tea has caffeine. So if you're sensitive to stimulants, you might want to look for caffeine free green tea, or just cut down on your daily consumption.
Green tea can be purchased as a leaf, in a bag or as an extract (known as macha).
Believe me; if you include any (preferably all) of these foods in your daily eating plan, your body will thank you with extra energy and longevity. There aren't many foods out there that can help keep you fit AND healthy, but these 10 are a great start. In a follow-up article, I will provide you will healthy and tasty recipes that include many of these fine foods.