If there’s one goal that unites every dieter… it’s to burn extra calories without extra effort.
Is that even possible? Surprisingly, yes. And the secret is found right in your kitchen.
Today I’m going to tell you about five foods that can ignite your body’s thermal burn (aka: your metabolism) to help zap calories without you setting foot in the gym.
What are these wonder-foods? I’ll tell you in just a few.
But first, let me give you the 411 on metabolism. Whether you’re watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or running the New York City Marathon, your body is working away, keeping your heart, lungs, kidneys, and every other process in your body going. That’s what we call metabolism, and keeping you alive uses energy, in the form of calories.
There’s also a special kind of metabolism, called the “thermic effect of food.” That’s the energy (calories) your body uses in order to take your chicken salad sandwich and digest, process and use it. So the net calories your body ends up with is actually less than the amount contained in the food.
Certain foods have a high thermic effect. They fuel your internal furnace just by working, and working hard, to get through the digestive process. And those, my friends, are the foods today’s post will focus on. What are the five foods I recommend you eat and drink often?
Grab a fork (and maybe a knife, spoon, and a cup too)… and read on…
Calorie-Kicking Food #1: Hot peppers
Cayenne pepper brings new meaning to turning up the heat in your food. A Purdue University study found that when people sprinkled one half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper on their food they sped up their metabolism, burning more calories after eating.1 Pepper also decreased appetite, especially for fatty, salty and sweet foods, in people who weren’t used to the spice.
Calorie-Kicking Food #2: Tea
Tea is rich in polyphenols, potent antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging free radicals in the body, and may also help you lose weight.
A large, long-term study in Taiwan found that those who drank at least one glass of black, green or oolong tea per week had 20 percent less body fat and two percent less abdominal fat than those who drank none. Since the results were independent of subjects’ physical activity, food intake, and other lifestyle habits, researchers concluded tea was the key to kicking up their metabolism.2
Tip: The longer you steep the tea, the more flavonoids you’ll get in your brew.
Calorie-Kicking Food #3: Vinegar
In my last post I told you about the fat-fighting effects of olive oil. Well vinegar appears to have some of the same effects. In one study out of Arizona State University, two teaspoons of vinegar with a meal effectively reduced postprandial glycemia (a highfalutin term that means the sugar rush you get after eating).3
Vinegar’s lip-puckering potency comes from acetic acid, which allows some sugars and starches to pass through to the intestines more slowly. So, you feel fuller longer, and are less tempted to raid your secret stash of leftover Halloween candy.
Calorie-Kicking Food #4: Lean beef
Chicken and fish get all the glory when it comes to weight loss. And while I’m not knocking either (see my next calorie-kicking food), lean beef should have a place on your diet plate too.
Beef contains the amino acid leucine, which helps you maintain more muscle as you lose weight. And beef takes a while to chew, maximizing your mealtime, and giving your stomach more time to register that it’s full, and help you eat less overall.
And, digesting protein uses more thermal-burn than carbs or fat (increasing your metabolism by a whopping 20 to 30 percent, compared to 5 to 10 percent for carbs, and a measly 5 percent for fat).
In other words, if you eat 200 calories of a high-protein food, your body will use 60 calories just to digest and process it! So your metabolism will still be on full throttle long after you swallow that last bite of steak.
Calorie-Kicking Food #5: Fatty fish
You already know that fatty fish is good for heart health.
But did you also know that research has shown the omega-3s in fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, albacore tuna, sardines and lake trout help build muscle?4
And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn all the time.
Remember I talked earlier about how your body works all day to keep your system running. Well, it takes more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat… translation: The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn 24/7.
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine too! I love finding foods that not only taste great, but really work for you as well. Got any favorite foods that may help you lose weight? Tell me about them!
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.
I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!
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References:1. Ludy MJ, Mattes RD. The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. Physiol Behav. 2011;102(3-4):251-258. PMID: 21093467.
2. Wu CH, Lu FH, Chang CS, Chang TC, Wang RH, Chang CJ. Relationship among habitual tea consumption, percent body fat, and body fat distribution. Obes Res. 2003;11(9):1088-1095. PMID: 12972679.
3. Johnston CS, Steplewska I, Long CA, Harris LN, Ryals RH. Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults. Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;56(1):74-79. PMID: 20068289.
4. Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clin Sci. 2011;121(6):267-278. PMID: 21501117.