We all know about foods that are good for us and have various proven benefits. But many people aren't aware that there are actually fat-burning foods, which help kick-start your body into shedding excess weight. These wonder-foods can increase the number of fat calories your body burns -they're like little diet-helpers, stimulating your metabolism. They are known as 'free foods', and as you'd expect they are low in calories. However, some of them actually have 'negative' calories, meaning that your body burns more calories metabolising the foods than it absorbs from the food itself. Add them to your diet and see the effect for yourself!
The great news is that such 'superfoods' contain real health benefits in addition to their amazing weight loss assisting properties. These benefits make them ideal components in any weight loss programme. You may be surprised to discover where to find some of these great little helpers.
You normally think of chilli as being found in traditionally unhealthy meals and snacks, but it contains capsaicin, an active ingredient which as a thermogenic agent helps to increase metabolism and the burning of calories and fat. Capsaicin is unsurprisingly found in many natural weight loss formulas - it is believed to be an appetite suppressant. Cayenne was shown by two Japanese studies to increase metabolism of dietary fats in women – it also showed a modest reduction in appetite. Capscaicin does even more than this – it has been shown to relieve sinusitis, psoriasis, migraines and arthritis, improve circulation and stomach conditions and even inhibit the growth of cancer cells. It also works as a good all-round painkiller.
Then there's bee pollen – again you might associate that with unhealthiness, as bees can give a nasty sting, but their pollen is quite different. It's a virtually complete food with an amazing composition of nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals as well as being 40% protein. It's meant to stimulate the metabolism as well as helping to flush fat from the body due to its high lecithin content. Pollen also makes for a good appetite suppressant, but has no negative side effects.
You still might not be shaking bee pollen over your dinner, but coconut oil is more likely to be found in your supermarket or kitchen. It's a saturated fat, and helps to get rid of unwanted body fat, unlike polyunsaturated fats like processed vegetable oils. It really is a low-fat fat, unique from animal saturated fats with its medium chain fatty acids – these are absorbed directly and used straightaway for energy. Sufferers of diabetes, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, thyroid imbalances, and viral, bacterial and fungal infections have all found that coconut oil helps their condition.
Another 'nasty' natural ingredient with surprising benefits is the nettle. The stingy plant we were all told to stay away from as children contains the neurotransmitter serotonin, which calms and raises the spirits. It also functions as an appetite suppressant, as it plays a part in the feelings of fullness experienced after eating. Serotonin supplements have been designed to fight food cravings and help slimming. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found to be directly linked to overeating obesity. Nettles are reputed to improve weight loss for this reason. They're also very mineral dense and are detoxifying and cleansing for the body – amazingly they are also great for the skin, hair and nails, thanks to their sulphur content.
Here's the really good news – chocolate can help you lose weight! Cacao or pure chocolate contains chemicals that increase serotonin levels in the brain and suppress the appetite. Serotonin levels can be raised by the amino acid tryptophan in cacao as well as the action of monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors). These decrease our body's ability to break down serotonin so that more of this neurotransmitter remains in the brain, creating feelings of fullness for longer. Cacao is also a great source of antioxidants and has potent aphrodisiac properties, healthy minerals and mood-boosting compounds such as PEA, known as the 'love chemical'. Make sure you get unrefined chocolate, though – commercial products are full of sugar, hydrogenated fats, milk, additives, agro-chemicals and solvents which cancel out the benefits.
The benefits of green tea have been widely reported. One study indicates that substances in green tea extract may actually promote weight loss. The catechin flavonoids in green tea may alter the body's use of norepinephrine, a chemical transmitter in the nervous system, to increase the rate of calorie burning. Green tea also lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of stroke, protects against cancer, prevents teeth cavities and has anti-inflammatory properties. And it even has a pleasant taste.
Another beneficial supplement which is becoming more and more well-known is omega-3 fish oil. These serve many different bodily processes – they're especially good for the heart and the immune system, but also help with arthritis, skin conditions, pre-menstrual tension, mental function, improving memory and reducing depressive symptoms. It reduces insulin levels in the body – insulin promotes the use of fat for storage and reduces the use of fat for fuel, hence lower insulin levels mean greater conversion of fat for energy rather than storage.
Omega-3 is most abundant in oily fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel. Plant sources include flax seeds (the richest plant source), walnuts, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, evening primrose oil, wheat germ and spirulina.
It's possible to boost your immune system, lower your cholesterol, improve your energy and generally give your health a big help by eating the right foods. The body is usually in a state of homeostasis, meaning that your body automatically tries to keep its internal environment constant. Exercising more and cutting calories makes your body adjust, making changes to stop you losing critical body fat – push it too far and it goes into survival mode, grimly hanging on to all the calories it can. What you need to do is understand metabolism and coax your body to release stored fats.
There are two metabolic phases – anabolism and catabolism, which occur constantly and simultaneously. If you don't eat enough or give your body the right nutrients it will go into a heightened state of catabolism, meaning you build less muscle – this is slow metabolism. To lose weight and improve your health you should aim for high metabolism – a greater degree of anabolism.
You may in fact need to eat more in order to lose weight – it's not as simple as saying 'just eat less'. Your body will hang on more tightly to calories if it doesn't get enough nutrition. If you eat more calories more frequently you raise your metabolism. If you get your calorie intake right, you will see improvement and feel it too. This is where 'negative calorie' foods come in. Eating them makes the body exert more energy than contained in the foods themselves, so just eating them gives you a potential for net loss of calories.
Along with that omega-3 fish oil, these foods are all negative calorie foods:
So where do I go from here, well it's easy, eat the right amount of calories you need for that day, exercise moderately daily and snack throughout the day on the negative foods that are listed above and your waist line will begin to change for the better.
Copyright 2007-2017 David McEvoy
Dave Mcevoy is an award winning personal trainer he also runs a high quality supplement site.