Sunday, October 26, 2014

Foods and Beverages that Help with Weight Loss


With obesity on the rise and posing one of the most single most severe health problems in the country, it is no wonder that so many are trying to lose weight through any means necessary.   There are countless fad diets, diet food delivery programs, fitness regimens and weight loss plans that swear to give you fast, noticeable results, but, when it comes to dieting, there is no such thing as an easy solution.  The best way to achieve permanent weight loss is by eating fewer calories than what your body burns throughout the day.  Obviously, incorporating fitness helps as well since it burns calories and helps off set the calories in versus calories out. 

Foods and Beverages That Aid in Weight Loss
Although it is important to cut down on calories consumed, it is also just as important not to restrict calories so much so that you are hungry all day and causing the body to burn muscle for fuel.  In order to avoid this, you will not only have to restrict calorie intake, but will also have to incorporate certain foods into your diet that aid in weight loss simply by consuming them.   Yes, that’s right, there are actually certain foods that are low in calories, low in fat and contain plenty of fiber.  These foods help keep you full longer, speed up your metabolism and assist in digestion.  They help prevent overeating and make calorie restriction a much easier goal to accomplish. 

Water
Water is the key component to losing weight, keeping it off and doing it in a healthy way.  Water helps the kidneys and liver function properly so that your food is digested and fat is burned efficiently when consumed.  If you do not consume enough water, your kidneys will have a difficult time processing protein and your liver will have to jump in and help.  One of the liver’s main functions is to process fat in the body.  If it has to do another job to help out the kidneys as well, fat burning will be inhibited.  In addition to being a necessary tool for digestion, water also helps keep you full in between, before and after meals.  By drinking one to two glasses of water prior to each meal, you will get full quicker and consume fewer calories.

Greens
Green vegetables such as romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach kale and other leafy green vegetables contain a variety of nutrients critical to weight loss, especially an abundance of fiber.  Fiber helps keep you full longer, hence helping you consume fewer calories at each meal.  Leafy green vegetables also fight free radicals and improve muscle recovery after exercise.  Incorporate a leafy green vegetable to each meal of the day by adding a green salad prior your main meal.  This is an easy way to add fiber and cut caloric intake with a healthy, pre-meal food.

Whole Grains
Whole grains are important, especially when they are consumed and substituted for starches or white foods such as white bread and white rice.  Some examples of whole grains are brown rice, whole grain cereals, quinoa, whole oats, and bran. Each of these foods, when eaten in small quantities at each meal, can help prevent the body from storing fat by helping move it along in the digestive system.  This results in less fat storage and increased weight loss.  Whole grains also provide a similar benefit to leafy greens and water.  They help keep you full longer, preventing snacking between meals or overeating. 

Lean Protein
Lean protein such as white meat chicken, lean turkey, fish and extra lean meats all assist in weight loss.  They do so by assisting your body with the muscle building process.  After exercise, it is suggested that you consume a high protein meal or snack in order to help rebuild muscle fibers and help muscles heal.  High protein meals and snacks are also more filling than sugary, carbohydrate filled post-workout favorites such as granola bars, cereal bars or pasta. 

Fruits
Fruits contain many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the body to function.  When it comes to fruit, however, it is important to choose the right foods in order to prevent insulin spikes and unnecessary fat storage.  Fruits contain plenty of sugars, and although they are natural sugars, they will still have an impact on your blood sugar level and cause spikes in the body’s insulin levels.  These spikes can cause you to feel hungry when you should not be, they can make you feel fatigued and can have an overall negative effect on mood.  In order to consume fruits that will benefit the body and assist in weight loss, it is important to consume mostly low glycemic fruits.   Some examples of low glycemic fruits are cherries, berries, grapefruits, plums, apples and pears.  In addition to ensuring most of your fruits are low on the glycemic index, it is also important to eat fresh fruit and avoid juices or dried fruits.  Juices do not provide all of the nutrients that the skin and meaty portions of the fruit contains.  Dried foods typically have plenty of added sugars and some of their nutritional value has been depleted. 

Low Fat Yogurt
Plain, low fat yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, is high in protein and calcium.  This combination helps increase metabolism and break down fats during digestion.  Research suggests that those that incorporate low fat yogurt to a balanced, low calorie diet plan maintain more lean muscle mass while losing weight. 

The Bottom Line
While there are many foods that assist in weight loss, as previously mentioned, there is no magic pill or food that will shed calories without effort on your part.  The keys to effective, permanent weight loss are simple.  You will need to eat less calories than what you burn, either through calorie restriction and/or exercise and you will have to incorporate healthy, nutritious foods into each meal and snack you consume.  Ideally, you should aim to consume less than 20% of your calories from fat each day.  The remainder of your calories can be evenly distributed among proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  The benefits of exercise are abundant.  It not only burns calories, but also keeps the body’s metabolism working long after exercise is complete.  This helps burn more calories and fat even while you are sitting at work or sleeping. 


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