Winter and weight gain are basically synonymous. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who worry about gaining weight in the winter, well, worry not. If you eat the right foods this holiday season, in fact, you can incinerate calories, melt off fat, and even get the body of your dreams. And chances are, you’re more than familiar with most of those foods—like quinoa, or pulled pork. In the interest of keeping you as healthy as possible this winter, we’ve curated a list of 25 superfoods that are all but certain to aid in your quest of fending off winter weight gain. And for more on healthy eating this holiday season, check out the 10 Unhealthiest Holiday Finger Foods.
Grab a can (or four) on your next grocery trip. One study in the Journal of Lipid Research showed that omega-3 fatty acids in tuna have the ability to essentially turn off abdominal fat genes. And check out more smart dining strategies by learning How Lean People Eat Every Holiday Season.
When life gives you lemons, you may want to take heed. A study in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition showed that lemon’s polyphenols (found most in the lemon rind) improved insulin resistance in mice and decreased body weight and fat. So squeeze some lemon juice into your next glass of water or onto your next piece of lean meat.
Sweet news: According a study in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, participants who ate honey for 8 weeks saw increased weight loss and, for the participants with diabetes, reduced blood glucose levels. Need to get some honey in your life? Just glaze your next piece of salmon with the stuff. (Or just drink more tea.)
Start the day with a plate full of scramblers; eggs really are all they’re cracked up to be. Research in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that, after 8 weeks of eating eggs for breakfast, weight loss is boosted by up to 65 percent over those who didn’t eat eggs for breakfast. Packing on the protein found in eggs is one of the 33 Ways to Stay Lean for Life.
Fermented foods are awesome for weight loss. A 2011 study in Nutrition Research found that participants who ate kimchi for 8 weeks experienced precipitous decreases in body weight, body mass index, and body fat percentage. As if you needed another reason to spring for a bibimbap.
You can eat a lot of potatoes and not gain weight, according to research out of the Journal of American College of Nutrition. In fact, in their study, people who ate 5 to 7 servings of potatoes daily actually lost weight. Just opt for healthier options, like mashed potatoes (no cream), baked potatoes, or home fries. Sorry, barflies: French fries are a no-go.
While typically high in saturated fats—in other words: bad fats—coconut milk has been proven to help with weight loss, due to the substance’s abundance of medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to increase metabolic rates. Just don’t overdo it and you’ll be fine. Our recommendation? Get your coconut milk fix from another metabolism-boosting meal: Spicy green curry. (Turning up the heat is a surefire way to amplify your metabolic function.)
Or, if chicken broth isn’t available, spring for pretty much any low-calorie soup. According to research out of Penn State, having a low-calorie soup before a meal reduced calorie intake by 20 percent throughout the meal. It’s simple math: You fill up, you eat less, you gain less weight.
Yes, you can indulge your sweet tooth when it comes to chocolate, as long as it’s dark—as in a 70 percent cacao rating or higher. The flavanols in cocoa are known to prevent weight gain and obesity. Plus, springing for dark chocolate is also a helpful craving curbing trick: In fact, it’s one of the 27 Smartest Ways to Control Your Cravings.
Want a smaller waist? Eat some protein-rich Greek yogurt. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who regularly ate yogurt had lower body mass index, lower body weight, experienced less weight gain, and boasted a smaller waist circumference and lower body fat percentage.
The leafy green is a weight-loss darling. Kale is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index, both of which have been linked to weight loss. Plus, kale just tastes better than its other salad-base contemporaries, like romaine and iceberg.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that obese mice that were fed garlic for seven weeks reduced their body weight and dormant fat stores. And, seeing as garlic is one of those things that goes with everything, you have no excuse not to add a dash to your next dinner dish.
The real breakfast of champions. A 2010 study by the American Dietetic Association found that regular oatmeal helped lower LDL cholesterol (that’s the stuff that leads to heart disease, unwanted weight gain, and diabetes) and shrink the waistlines of participants after 4 weeks of eating oatmeal.
Perhaps ironically, nature’s candy is great for your waistline. Maple syrup is high in zinc, which has been found to aid in weight loss. That irony? Try imagining a meal to eat the sweet stuff with that’s not a carb-and-sugar-loaded waffle or stack of pancakes.
Keep a stash nearby for a healthy snack. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate nuts everyday gained less weight and that greater nut consumption resulted in a lower risk of obesity. Nuts are also loaded with natural protein, which will help you build that enviable lean muscle.
Grab a pork tenderloin for dinner tonight. In a study published in the journal Nutrients, after three months or lean pork consumption, overweight participants saw a significant reduction in waist size, BMI and belly fat. As such, researchers believe that pork’s amino acids may contribute to greater fat burning.
Eat these fresh fungi in the morning for the best effect. A 2017 study published in the journal Appetite found that those who ate a breakfast with mushrooms resulted in greater fullness and less hunger. As a bonus, mushrooms are the only food you can get at the supermarket that has a natural source of Vitamin D.
January is peak season for pomegranates, magical fruits that are high in fiber and low-calorie (each half cup comes with only 72 calories). As a bonus, they’re high in potassium, an essential electrolyte for a pre- or post-workout session, according to Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N.
Add a sprig to your roast chicken to stop weight gain. A 2010 study in Planta Medica found that mice fed on a high-fat diet paired with rosemary extract did not gain weight because of rosemary extract’s ability to inhibit lipase—an enzyme used to break down fats—activity. The stuff may also make you feel fuller by delaying the digestion of fats.
Beans are the boss when it comes to weight loss. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that a daily serving of beans and other pulses can contribute to a modest weight loss and reduced cholesterol levels. Beans are also a healthy source of protein—which, again, grants you energy and helps build muscle.
Sprinkle some on your oatmeal or into a protein shake. According to the Journal of Food Science and Technology, chia seeds are one of the finest sources of protein you can get. At 20 percent protein per serving, they’ll help keep you full longer and will work wonders on building essential lean muscle.
A University of Michigan study found that cinnamon wreaks havoc on fat cells. The study found that the oil cinnamaldehyde boosts metabolic health by prodding fat cells to start burning energy in a process called thermogenesis. A quick way to slate cinnamon into your diet? Sprinkle it into your coffee. It’s one of the 15 Easiest Health Hacks of All Time.
The cold-weather fruit is in season during the winter. A 2003 study published in Nutrition found that those who ate apples and pears everyday lost weight. Just be sure to eat, you know, the pear itself, and not a fatty, sugar-filled pear crumble, or other similar holiday-season treats.
Thankfully, Brussels sprouts have cemented their place on the fine dining menus of American cuisine: The veggie is full of fiber and detoxifying glucosinates. Just try to get an option that’s glazed in something healthy, like sesame oil, as opposed to springing for the en vogue dish of Brussels sprouts and bacon bits. The inherent fat in bacon will nullify any benefits you get from this choice vegetable.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate whole grains lost more belly fat than those who ate refined grains. Maintain a sense of being on top of your diet, and not the other way around, by checking out the 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You’re Over 40.
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