Burn more calories while you eat. Chomp on these five fabulous, fat-fighting foods that rev up your metabolism and help you lose weight, fast.
Blavarg, Susanna/Getty ImagesRAW OYSTERS
Fat-fighting ingredient: zinc
These brawny little bivalves possess more than libido-enhancing powers; their inner gem takes fat burning to the next level too. Oyster meat is rich in zinc, an essential mineral that ramps up enzymes involved in numerous biochemical processes in the body, including the production of thyroid hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism and energy level. In fact, just one oyster provides about 6 mg of this mighty mineral—almost 75 percent of the recommended daily amount.
Studies have shown that being low in zinc can interfere with thyroid hormone production, leading to lowered metabolic rate and hampered fat loss. The thyroid gland produces two primary hormones: thyroxine (T4), the most abundant at about 80 percent, and triiodothyronine (T3). Although it yields more T4 than T3, the latter is a whopping 300 percent more active, and is the hormone responsible for revving up your metabolism.
One study published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that women who were low in zinc had significantly slower metabolic rates. When they supplemented with 26 mg a day for four months, their thyroid hormone levels, particularly levels of T3, got a major boost. What’s more, their resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the amount of calories burned while at rest—also jumped.
Additional studies have also shown that zinc deficiency causes low levels of the hormone leptin, a critical hormone manufactured in fat cells that regulates appetite and fat metabolism.
Nader Khouri/Blended Images/Getty ImagesGRAPEFRUIT
Fat-fighting ingredient: naringin
Grapefruit is chock-full of nutrients including immune-boosting vitamin C, cholesterol-lowering pectin, and cancer-fighting lycopene, to name a few. But, what gives this tart fruit its fat-burning punch is naringin. A study conducted at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, found that people who ate half a grapefruit three times daily before each meal dropped an average of 4 pounds in 12 weeks. Drinking 8 oz. of grapefruit juice had the same results. Researchers speculate that naringin, a powerful flavonoid found in grapefruit, spurred the loss in weight by enhancing insulin sensitivity.
Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is the primary hormone that tells your body to store energy (glucose) as fat or use it as fuel. The more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the less insulin is produced, and your body is able to burn fat as well as inhibit it from being stored. Another more recent study published in Metabolism found that those who ate half a grapefruit three times daily with each meal for 6 weeks, significantly reduced their waists, compared to the control group.
One caveat: grapefruit may interfere with certain medications, so you’ll want to speak with your doctor before including it in your diet.
Angela Sorrentino/E+/Getty ImagesFREEKAH
Fat-fighting ingredients: protein, fiber
Move over quinoa, there’s a new super wholegrain in town. Freekeh (pronounced freak-eh), an ancient Middle Eastern grain, yields a powerful nutritional punch and is quickly sprouting up on weight-minding menus across the globe. Freekeh is great for battling the bulge: It’s loaded with more protein, fiber, and minerals than mature wheat, according to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the national government body for scientific research in Australia.
The versatile green-hued kernels that make their way into soup, salad, breakfast bowls, and more are harvested when young, so they hold on to more protein and fiber (about twice that of quinoa and up to four time that of brown rice) than mature varieties. Together, these two nutrients help satiate your appetite, leaving you feeling fuller, longer. Fill your tummy with freekeh, and you’re more likely to consume less overall calories and thus lose weight. What’s more, it’s rich in calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium, and ranks low on the glycemic index. Low-glycemic or slow-digesting carbohydrates have a minimal effect on insulin, which helps keep blood sugar levels in check, significantly diminishing the chance of fat storage.
Fat-fighting ingredients: protein, monounsaturated fat
Good things really do come in small packages: a handful of almonds is packed with 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and nearly nine times more monounsaturated healthy fat than saturated fat. This combination makes these little nuggets perfect for curbing cravings and for keeping blood sugar levels on an even keel. One study published in the International Journal of Obesity found dieters who noshed on almonds daily lost 62 percent more body weight and 56 percent more fat than those who didn’t. What’s more, they shrank their waistlines by a whopping 50 percent, too!
Charlene Collins/Flickr Open/Getty ImagesGINGER
Fat-fighting ingredient: gingerol
Ginger does more than give your taste buds a kick; it also revs up thermogenesis (heat production) in the body and staves off hunger. What gives this root vegetable its thermic zing is gingerol, a compound similar to chili pepper’s capsaicin, which boosts the body’s internal thermostat and speeds up metabolism so you melt more calories. A study conducted at New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center found that people who consumed as little as 2 grams of ginger (in powder form) with breakfast, showed a significant increase in thermogenesis and squashed hunger, compared to a placebo group.