Did your New Year start with a weight-loss bang that gradually dwindled to a dull thud? Get the scale moving again with these four superfoods:
The natural chemical responsible for raspberries' mouthwatering aroma is similar to capsaicin, the substance that puts the heat in hot peppers and has been shown to fire up metabolism. But one of the greatest benefits of this gorgeous berry is its fiber content. One cup provides a whopping 8 grams, over 30 percent of the recommended daily intake. A classic fiber study concluded that for every gram of fiber we eat, we eliminate about seven calories, and research in Brazilian dieters found that over a 6 month period, each addition gram of fiber resulted in an extra quarter pound of weight loss.
How to Eat More: Raspberries are one of the 5 foods included in the 5 Day Fast Forward (solid food detox) in my new book. When combined with four other superfoods (whipped into a smoothie along with yogurt and almond butter and sprinkled into a spinach salad) this secret weapon can help you shed up to 8 pounds in 5 days. Not up for a detox? Add a dash of cinnamon and citrus zest, mash a little, and top with toasted rolled oats for a quick mock cobbler.
This often overlooked bean packs a one-two-three weight-loss punch. Not only are they high in fiber (see raspberries) with 5 grams per half cup, they’re also a great source of potassium, a mineral with natural diuretic properties that sweeps excess sodium and fluid out of your body. And finally they’re a bean! Studies show that regular bean eaters have smaller waistlines and a 22 percent lower risk of obesity.
How to Eat More: Add them to a garden salad, or marinate in balsamic vinaigrette with chopped red onion, minced celery and sliced grape tomatoes.
This fermented milk drink can be made from cow, sheep or goat’s milk or a plant-based version like coconut milk. Kefir is loaded with beneficial bacteria — about 10 different strains compared to the 2-3 found in most yogurts, and those live and active cultures are thought to favor weight control. A recent Japanese study found that subjects who drank a fermented milk product for 12 weeks shed nearly 5 percent of their belly fat.
How to Eat More: You'll find kefir in the refrigerated dairy case of your supermarket, alongside milk and yogurt. Reaching for a plain, nonfat or lowfat version and doctor it up yourself. For a refreshing snack whip about 6 oz in the blender with about a cup of frozen fruit (berries, pitted cherries, mango, pineapple, peaches), a few tablespoons of natural nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed) and a dash of spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.).
Good Old H2O
Agua’s weight loss benefits have been debated for decades, but an intriguing new study found that adults who simply gulped two cups of water before meals enjoyed a major weight loss benefit — they shed a whopping 40 percent more weight over a 12 week period. The same group of scientists previously found that subjects who drank two cups before meals naturally consumed 75-90 fewer calories, an amount that could really snowball day after day.
Eat More: Of course you can drink water with and between meals, but you can also eat it. Carrots, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon and lettuce are each over 90 percent water. And if you dislike the taste of plain water, stir in a few sprigs of fresh mint and some fresh grated ginger or add them to your ice cube tray.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.