by Charles Weller May 30, 2014
All winter you’ve been faithfully training — hitting the gym and pounding the pavement — in anticipation of the day when the sun will pop out and it will finally be warm enough to rock your swimsuit. Now that those days are just around the corner, you might have found that your fitness plan needs a slight boost to help you shed those last few pounds. That’s why we have a few tips on plant-based foods that will help you get the body you desire so you can walk the beach with confidence.
In order to burn fat and stay trim, it’s critical to give your body nutrient-rich foods that will keep you satisfied and help increase metabolism. To accomplish this, you’ll want to stock up on foods that are high in protein and fiber and contain a healthy dose of the good-for-you fats: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein is important in helping you build lean, fat-burning muscle to increase your metabolism, and along with fiber, will help you stay full so you’ll be less likely to snack on high-sugar, high-sodium foods in between meals. Consuming healthy, unsaturated fats will provide a feeling of satiety, while also helping to control blood sugar and contribute to belly-fat loss.
Here are six foods that you can incorporate into your diet right away to help meet your weight loss and fitness goals in time for summer.
Almonds and walnuts | Nuts like almonds and walnuts contain a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help you stay satisfied, making them a great choice for a pick-me-up snack between meals. It’s also believed that nuts contribute to increased levels of the hormone leptin, which regulates energy and fat breakdown, helping to control your appetite. Increased levels of leptin mean a decrease in appetite and food cravings.
Buckwheat | Technically a fruit and not a grain, buckwheat is a good source of fiber and is considered a complete protein, containing the full spectrum of amino acids. If you’re trying to go gluten free, it’s a great substitute for grains, as it’s available in many forms, including groats, flour, and hot cereal. Buckwheat can be used to make a healthier version of foods like pancakes or served as a side in place of rice or potatoes.
Chia seeds | Available in bulk at most health food stores, these small, dark seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They make a great addition to your Superfood Protein Smoothie (check out the Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie recipe) and can be used as a thickener in whole grain or buckwheat (see above) hot cereals.
Avocado | The fat content of this fruit often causes low-fat dieters to approach it with caution. However, the most important question isn’t the quantity of fat, but rather the type of fat. Avocados contain a high dose of monounsaturated fat and a healthy serving of omega-3 fatty acids, which is one of the reasons they’re a great fat-busting food. What’s more, avocados are higher in fiber and protein and lower in sugar than most other fruits, and they may help to reduce inflammation associated with excess weight.
Berries | Berries are high in fiber and antioxidants, and are great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar. In fact, when eaten with foods high in carbohydrates, berries have been show to positively effect insulin levels, regulating blood sugar and appetite. You can easily add berries into your diet by using them frozen to make a deliciously thick and creamy Superfood Protein Smoothie, such as the Very Berry Smoothie.
Green tea | If you’re looking for something to sip on that won’t add extra calories to your diet, green tea is your new friend. Not only will it give your metabolism a calorie- and sugar-free caffeine boost, it also contains a naturally occurring chemical that is thought to enhance the burning of abdominal fat.