WITH THE warmer weather around the corner, we all want to get in shape. Working out is key to a trimmer bod and counting the calories will go a long way to helping you achieve the figure you want, but did you know, certain foods will help you get there quicker?
They work by speeding up your metabolism and giving your body all the nutritious benefits it needs. To lose weight healthily, make sure you eat smart, by adding the following foods to your diet to give yourself that extra push towards your goals.
Fruit and veg
Fruit and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and potassium and can prevent any digestion problems and help maintain a healthy gut. Fruit and vegetables are also low-energy foods, so you can eat plenty without consuming too many calories, as they are also high in water. (When it comes to vegetables such as white potatoes, which have a high content in starch, don’t fill up too much on these – swap for them for antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes or legumes such as kidney beans and lentils).
Brown rice is whole grain and has a low-glycaemic rating, it’s packed with nutrients such as fibre and selenium and will fill you up for a longer period of time, too. It’ll help lower cholesterol, high-blood pressure and other signs of cardiovascular disease – you can eat as much as you like.
Popcorn is easy to make at home, meaning you can avoid the fat and sugar-laden varieties on offer at the supermarket. Providing wholegrain, fibre and anti-oxidants, just place the corn in a saucepan, close the lid, turn up the heat and wait for them to start popping! If you want a bit a flavour, sprinkle some xylitol (for sweetness) or salt, or both! Or get creative and raid your store cupboard for healthy additions, think dried rosemary, garlic powder and Parmesan; matcha green tea powder and salt; or cinnamon.
Because they’re protein-rich, pulses and beans keep you fuller for longer and help maintain your energy levels (as well as being a reliable source of nutrients and fibre). Not just for vegetarian and vegans, use them as a basis for summer salads, or pop them into homemade soups and casseroles, when the weather is cooler. Mix with a can of tomatoes, sautéed onions and herbs for a sauce for wholemeal pasta.
Avoid cream or you’ll soon see your waistline expand. Warm cakes, especially spicy versions, are lovely with a dollop of 0 per cent fat Greek yoghurt. Grate an apple and add some seed mix. This is very nutritious and fills you up whilst giving a sweet hit when you need it.
Got a sweet tooth? Say no to refined sugar and replace with xylitol, agave nectar or even honey. If you’re serious about cutting down, you may want to use rice malt syrup instead, which has a low fructose content. When you’re baking stick to wholemeal carbs (wholemeal bread, wholemeal self-raising flour, brown rice) and use low-fat butters/margarine.
Chilli has a thermogenic effect on the body, meaning it stimulates the body’s own process of burning fat. Although it’s not enough to help you drop a dress size, adding a bit of spice to your food could rev up your metabolism enough to burn a few extra calories each day.