Trust me, I’m all about loving who you are and appreciating the skin you’re in, but, it is August, which does mean we’re all flashing a little more flesh, so if there are simple ways we can trim a couple of inches off our already beautiful selves just by making better food choices, I’m all for that too. You can lose a few unwanted pounds just by swapping out higher calorie foods for those that are more filling and nutrient dense and this quick-fire roundup should help point you in the right direction. BY POLLY HUMPHRIS
Not only are they high in fibre to stop you feeling hungry quicker, they’re also packed full of good fats, which, yes, may make them pretty high in calories (so just eat a handful not an entire bag), but does mean they won’t contribute to unsightly tummy fat. They’re also packed full of vitamin E, so do wonders for your skin too.
Another food that’s probably higher in calories than you might think – half a medium fruit comes in at around 200 calories – over 75 per cent of the fat in an avocado is unsaturated (good fat), which means not only are they heart healthy, but they’re filling too. Add them to salads and you’ll feel fuller for longer and you’ll also reap the rewards of their high potassium content, which helps regulate your body’s fluid levels and keeps your nervous system functioning properly too.
Low calorie (around 30 calories per 100g) and packed with antioxidants, watermelon lives up to its name and is loaded with water, which helps to rid the body of excess fluids, and is also twice as potassium rich than banana – snack on a wedge of watermelon and wave goodbye to bloating.
For years now there’s been countless whole grains who have tried to steal quinoas crown, but it’s still the undisputed Queen of all superfoods. High in protein, it can easily be swapped into salads in place of high-fat meats and cheeses, and if you pair it with exercise, it’ll help you build more lean muscle, which in turn burns calories.
You know celebs are always banging on about how they start their day with hot water and lemon? Turns out they have a point. When added to water, smoothies and salad dressings, the acid in lemons has an alkalising effect on our stomachs, which helps speed up digestion and aids weight loss.
A surprising entry on the list because many feel that bananas – regarded widely as a carb-heavy, calorie-heavy fruit – actually contribute to weight gain, when in fact they don’t; not only will eating a banana fill you with slow-release, fibre-rich energy, they also help to relieve water retention thanks to their high potassium levels.
Granted, a bowl of watercress won’t fill you up, but add it to an already healthy diet and you have an effective recipe for a flatter stomach because it’s a great source of iodine, which helps boost metabolism. Additionally, the diuretic properties of watercress mean it’s great at flushing out toxins and excess fluids, and it’s loaded with countless nutritious vitamins and minerals, so your skin will glow thanks to a tip-top digestive system.
Eggs get quite a lot of flak – in the 50s, the slogan “go to work on an egg” made sure generations to come were all dipping their toast soldiers most mornings, but then along came Edwina Curry claiming that most of the egg production in the country was affected by salmonella and a lot of people became wary. Fear ye not though, egg lovers – studies have since shown that protein-packed eggs kept slimmers who started their day with one consume fewer calories for a whopping 36 hours after breakfast.
The Rolls Royce of vegetables, asparagus spears are packed full of vitamins A, B-complex, C and E, as well as zinc, which works wonders for clearing bad skin, and potassium, which shifts unwanted fluids from the body. They’re also rich in asparagine – a natural amino acid that helps breaks down fat in cells.
Not only are tomatoes a delicious fat-fighting food, they’re brimful with antioxidants, are known for their ability to reduce both inflammation and water retention, and – their trump card – they are also proven to reduce the body’s natural resistance to leptin, a type of protein that assists with regulating both appetite and metabolic rate, and is therefore essential to help us lose weight.
No surprises here as chilli is widely lauded for its metabolism-boosting properties and it deserves a mention simply for that because a raised metabolism helps our bodies burn fat faster, but how does chilli do it? Spicy chillies are capsicum, a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae, and capsicum has been proven by scientists across the pond to have a thermogenic effect on our bodies, which makes us burn calories faster.
If you’re prepared for the bad breath that may come with it, start adding garlic to everything and not only will you benefit from all of its wonderful antioxidant properties, but you’ll also reap the rewards of all of the allicin contained in it. A naturally occurring chemical, allicin reacts with our blood cells to kill of any harmful bacteria in the gut and also regulates the formation of fat cells, so less fat is likely to be stored.
Bashed by the carb police from every angle, potatoes have been given a bad rap for decades, but they’re a great source of resistant starch, which can gee up a sluggish digestion, and they’re really filing too – a medium-sized spud will only set you back about 170 calories, so if you go easy on the butter and skip the cheese, piling your potato high with salad and low-fat fillings instead, you’ll be full up (guilt free) in no time.
While we’re not suggesting you guzzle a bottle with every meal, research has shown that resveratrol, a substance found in grapes, berries and red wine turns our excess flabby bits into calorie-burning ‘brown’ or ‘beige’ fat, which reduces weight gain by burning up calories. Cheers to that.