There is continually mounting evidence that the effect of spicy peppers on your metabolism is real and profound. Researchers found that capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy peppers their burn, increased the body’s ability to burn fat by as many as 90 extra calories after a meal. While less notorious than their heat, peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C.
Many culinary traditions around the world heavily use peppers, so try out recipes until you find a spicy flavor palette that works for you. Stir-fry is a great way to test out pepper preferences, as are salsas and guacamole. For those with a sweet tooth, try adding a bit of chili pepper to a dark chocolate drizzle over fruit.
Whole grains can be a confusing, nebulous term, but generally, it is used to refer to any grain food like corn, wheat, rice, quinoa, or others that are eaten in their entirety, meaning the kernel and interior contents. This wide range of foods is often grouped due to their similar health benefits, including high quantities of fiber, leading to long-lasting fullness.
To incorporate more whole grains into your diet, learn to read labels carefully. Many loaves of bread and other refined items marketed as “whole grain” really aren’t, leading to a great deal of confusion. Foods like quinoa that are visible whole grain are much simpler to incorporate into your diet.
Love it or hate it, grapefruit contains a compound that lowers insulin, which is a fat storage hormone. A study found that eating one half of a grapefruit before every meal resulted in weight loss without making any other dietary changes. Grapefruits are also around 90% water, which means they hydrate you while simultaneously making you feel full.
An important note: grapefruit contains medically active compounds that can seriously interfere with a wide variety of medications, including common drugs like some allergy and blood pressure medications. People with diabetes should also consult their doctor before incorporating grapefruit extensively into their diets.
While it may be hard to believe that the once infamous Chia Pet’s same seeds are now a widely lauded health food, it’s a fact! The once-novelty-pet seeds are now found in everything from yogurt to peanut butter to kombucha, and for a good reason: the tiny seeds pack a massive punch of fiber, calcium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds have a wide variety of uses. They are fantastic thickeners for pudding, pair beautifully with yogurt, blend smoothly into smoothies, and more. For more savory purposes, chia seeds can even be mixed into vinaigrettes to give a satisfying and filling texture to your salads.
Yogurt is a phenomenal weight loss food with one major caveat: it must be full fat! Many yogurts on the market are being sold as reduced-fat or “lite,” and they are typically loaded with sugars to replace the flavor lost by cutting the fat. This option not only is bad for your diet but will leave you with a sugar crash and craving food again quickly.
Greek yogurt is the best option for those looking to lose weight since its thick texture is satisfying and filling to eat, and it is crammed with protein for long-lasting satiety. There is also some evidence that the cultures involved in the creation of Greek yogurt aid in lasting fullness.
Coconut oil is really having a moment, being featured in magazines and on TV shows and making its way into many people’s diets and beauty routines. All of the popularity is well deserved, given coconut oil’s quantities of healthy medium-chain triglycerides which digest easily and quickly convert into usable energy for your body.
Apples are chock full of pectin, which you may be familiar with as a common botanical source of thickener. Pectin digests very slowly in the human body, which helps apples to make you feel full for much longer. The fiber in apples, especially in the skin, also helps you feel full. Apples are also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that support an overall healthy diet.
If eating a whole apple, skin and all, isn’t your favorite, try some shredded skin-on apples in a slaw or salad. Cubed tart apples, like Granny Smiths, are also an excellent addition to salads, especially when combined with a lean protein like chicken and a crunchy tree nut accent like walnuts.
Coffee addicts of the world, rejoice! Coffee is, indeed, a useful and healthy addition to a weight loss diet when consumed in moderation and not loaded with unnecessary fats and sugars. Researchers have routinely found that coffee does cause a small increase in metabolism for regular drinkers, so your daily cup of Joe may be giving your metabolism a boost.
This warm or cold beverage also works as an appetite suppressant, staving off the mid-morning munchies. If you don’t enjoy coffee, try adding a few coffee grounds to a smoothie or even rubbing a lean piece of meat with coffee grounds as part of a dry spice rub.
Most people are aware that bananas are a uniquely good source of potassium. What is less well known is that bananas are full of resistant starch, a slow to digest nutrient that helps to keep you full long after eating them. There is also evidence that resistant starches encourage your liver to switch into a fat burning mode of operation.
For those of you who don’t like green bananas, you’re in for a bit of bad news: resistant starches are at their highest concentrations in underripe bananas. The sweeter a banana, the less resistant starch is still present. Try incorporating less ripe bananas into yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal to cover some of the green flavors.
While rice is an everyday staple in many healthy diets around the world, brown rice is an even better option thanks to its higher fiber content, loads of resistant starches, and its status as a low energy density food, meaning that it is extremely filling while also being low calorie.
An even healthier, though harder to find, rice option is black rice, a typical food in Korean cooking. This yummy rice has more antioxidants than the superfood blueberry and more vitamin E than brown rice. Brown and black rice take longer to cook than standard white rice varieties, so a pressure cook may be a good investment if you want to incorporate these delicious and healthy staples into your diet more efficiently.
Dark chocolate contains many antioxidants that aren’t found in any other food. It is also a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which can give the metabolism a boost. Most important, however, is dark chocolate’s role in helping dieters stave off cravings for other less healthy sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
Try melting a square of high cocoa percentage dark chocolate into oatmeal for a decadent, filling breakfast. Smoothies also benefit from a melted square of chocolate. Try pairing dark chocolate with the concept of intentional eating, which advises dieters to be mindful of their food choices and eat what they are truly craving.
In addition to high fiber content, foods with high water content also increase feelings of fullness or satiety. These foods are actually a critical source of part of the water we need to consume daily. Carrots are also famed for their high quantities of beta-carotene, which converts to, vitamin A, which is vital to healthy bodies and eyesight.
If you have a sweet tooth, it can be incredibly hard to find satisfying foods that cure your cravings without crashing your diet. If this describes your daily struggle, try incorporating figs into your meals! Figs are extremely sweet yet also dense and fiber-rich, so a little bit will fill you up and slowly release sugar into your body, preventing the dreaded sugar crash.
Figs can be a genuinely luscious base for a fruit salad, especially when paired with melons and ricotta cheese. Many healthy, fresh Mediterranean desserts use figs thanks to their complex sweet flavor. Figs aren’t always easy to find at the supermarket, but most Mediterranean or specialty grocery stores should carry them.
If coffee isn’t your style, but you’re looking for a lightly caffeinated drink to help with weight loss, green tea may be perfect for you. Green tea, made from steeping unfermented tea leaves, is a fresh and bright tasting tea that is chock full of powerful antioxidants that have been shown repeatedly in research to raise the metabolism and burn fat, especially around the midsection.
To make a potent health drink, try adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to your green tea. Not only is the lemon itself beneficial, but the citrus acids help preserve and stabilize the antioxidants in the drink, allowing your body to absorb even more goodness.
Kimchi is a spicy, fermented side dish that is popular throughout Korea. Thanks to being fermented, kimchi is full of healthy probiotics that can aid your metabolism, power up your gut, and keep you feeling full. The capsaicin in the tasty treat can also help boost your metabolism and burn fat.
This unique food is a delicious side dish on its own, but can also be incorporated into recipes like kimchi fried rice to stretch it into a full meal. Look for kimchi in the refrigerated foods section of your local Asian market and enjoy the low-calorie delicious benefits of this fermented superfood.
These sour fruits provide dieters with a smooth, delicious, and low-calorie way to add a bright, beautiful flavor to a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes. Lemons also contain pectic which, like in apples, is slow to digest and can increase feelings of satiety and make them last longer.
Lemon juice added to vegetable steaming water imparts a light, fresh hint of citrus. Slices of lemon in water or iced tea provide a nice boost of citrus fat burning power while also making it easier to enjoy your minimum of eight glasses of water a day.
If you enjoy the ease and flavor of a sandwich for lunch but are worried about calories, the world of mustards may be just the flavor addition you need. Mustard is extremely low in calories and saturated fat, yet provides even more flavor than fatty and high-calorie additions like mayo and miracle whip.
Mustard, made from the ground seeds of the mustard plant and various additives like vinegar and other flavorings, comes in a wide variety of flavors from the pungent and spicy horseradish stoneground mustard to the sweet and aromatic dijon. There is mustard for virtually any sandwich and palette.
It may surprise some to see peanut butter on this list due to its high caloric content, but when eaten in moderation peanut butter has several weight loss benefits. Peanut butter, notably reduced sugar varieties, is full of protein and healthy fat. When combined with a complex carbohydrate like some apple slices, you have a healthy snack that will keep you full for hours.
Look for peanut butter that is as simple as possible, ideally containing only peanuts and salt. If your peanut butter does double duty as a pet treat, make sure you also select a variety that is free of xylitol!
Oatmeal is another terrific source of the resistant starch that digests slowly leaving you with a consistent source of energy and fullness. Cooked oatmeal, in particular, has been shown in research to contribute to weight loss thanks to its high fiber content in addition to the resistant starch.
This warm dish is also a terrific vehicle for other superfoods like chia seeds. Even more indulgent foods like dark chocolate can be added to the healthy base of cooked oatmeal for a filling, healthy breakfast that is also a delight for the senses. Fruits and healthy spices like cinnamon are also perfect complements to the grain.
What could be better than a snack that comes with its own built-in portion control through tedious to open shells? Only a treat that is also packed with as much potassium as a banana and full of the vision-protecting antioxidant lutein! This treat is relatively high in calorie, despite its benefits, so buy shelled varieties for natural portion control.
Pistachios pair beautifully with figs, another superfood on this list, as well as many other relatively low-sugar Mediterranean desserts. Pistachios can also be added to salads for a rich pop of flavor and crunch.
While many people think of quinoa as a grain, it is technically a seed! This versatile little superfood is easy to cook and can be used in countless ways from being eaten as-is, to formed into burger patties or even added to baked goods.
Quinoa is full of iron and magnesium, both of which help to energize your body. Quinoa is also gluten-free, which makes it an especially important source of fiber for those who cannot digest gluten due to celiac disease. In addition to nutrients and fiber, quinoa also has a surprising amount of protein, which makes it a filling side dish.
If you are a snacker, you need to find that one fantastic snack that you can enjoy and fill up on without ruining your diet. If this sounds like you, try popcorn! Popcorn is technically a whole grain, and when not loaded with butter and other toppings, it is very low in calories. Popcorn also has a surprisingly high amount of fiber and protein, making it filling and satisfying.
To flavor popcorn without adding loads of calories, try a pressure oil vaporizer and mist your popcorn with healthier oil like olive. Fat-free and low-sodium seasoning mixes and spices are another great way to add flavor without calories.
There is no doubt that Popeye was on to something with his love of spinach. The leafy green is an incredibly rich source of iron, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, and more. Studies have found that a spinach-rich diet helps control insulin and blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss.
Raw spinach is the perfect base for a delicious, nutrient-packed salad. Cooked spinach, whether as part of a pizza or eaten alone as a side with garlic and olive oil, actually makes more of the nutrients available to the body, much like cooking carrots.
You may have noticed a considerable increase in sweet potato French fries and potato chips in your local supermarket, and for a good reason. Sweet potatoes contain the same baseline benefits as potatoes, but with even more nutrients, healthier starches, and fewer calories. Just one sweet potato contains four times the minimum recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
Sweet potato can be used in virtually any case where a potato is called for, with a similar flavor that has just a hint more sweetness and a slightly squash-like flavor. Sweet potato can also be used in place of many summer squashes, making it an incredibly versatile staple.
While often viewed as just a flavoring or an exclusively autumn treat, pumpkin should really be a staple food for anyone trying to lose weight. Only one serving of pumpkin contains over 20% of your entire day’s recommended intake of fiber, meaning pumpkin will make you feel pleasantly full for hours.
Pumpkin is often used in fat and sugar-filled bakery recipes but can be made into delicious, low-calorie savory options like curried pumpkin soup. Pumpkin is a versatile winter squash that can be substituted in place of many other winter squashes.