Add some variety to your diet with these underrated foods that can help you get lean.
By Team Iron Man
Here’s a truth about getting ripped: The leaner you are the harder it is to lose fat. These following five foods can help put a little more horsepower in your metabolic engine, but only if you already have your fat-loss fundamentals covered. These are black belt–level dieting options, designed to squeeze the last bit of fat off you through their clever biochemical reactions. They won’t be effective if your big nutritional picture—carbs, protein, and fat intake—is completely out of whack.
Consuming this legume stimulates the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which signals satiety. Add to that the fact that a half-cup of cooked chickpeas has seven grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrate (most of which are fiber), and practically zero fat, it earns a place at the top of your grocery list. A study published in the Journal Of The American Dietetic Association suggests an association between chickpea consumption and a decrease in bodyweight due to improved insulin sensitivity. Loaded with iron, chickpeas provide significant amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium for optimal muscle function.
Tip: Puree chickpeas to make hummus, toss some into a salad for variety, or roast them for a crunchy snack.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Acetic acid, present in all vinegars, is proven to assist in fat loss by increasing fatty-acid oxidation. A 2009 study published in the Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry found that rodents fed high-fat diets and acetic acid had 10 percent less body fat than the control mice at the end of the study. Another study reported less visceral fat and increased weight loss in subjects who drank vinegar compared to those who didn’t. Acetic acid has been shown to increase fatty acid oxidation and suppress the accumulation of body fat and liver lipids.
Tip: Go with organic unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar. The superior pectin content helps suppress appetite, increase metabolism, and control blood sugar levels.
Cassia cinnamon has received a lot of good press regarding its ability to promote fat loss. When consumed, this common spice slows emptying of the stomach, which decreases the rate of glucose absorption, allowing the body time to metabolize blood sugar rather than store it as fat. The flavonoids in cinnamon further enhance glucose regulation by reducing sugar uptake. As little as a teaspoon per day can help keep insulin levels in check, along with energy and mood. And by now you know that regulating blood sugar plays a huge role in the body’s ability to mobilize fat stores.
Tip: For best results, eat with other foods. Add it to oatmeal, use it to spice meats, or simply mix a teaspoon in with your coffee or protein powder.
A study published in The Journal Of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that animals fed a diet that included watermelon juice lost more abdominal fat than animals fed the same diet plus water. Watermelon has also been found to reduce arterial plaque and decrease LDL cholesterol—the bad kind—with a corresponding increase in the amino acid citrulline, found in abundance in watermelon.
Tip: Beneficial nutrients reside in every part of the flesh, from the middle of the melon to the part nearest the perimeter. When selecting a watermelon, choose one that’s heavy for its size and has a smooth rind.
While almonds seem to enjoy all the good-fat press, walnuts boast the highest levels of omega-3s of any other nut. They also contribute to the breakdown and use of body fat by supporting a healthy thyroid and metabolism, as their high iodine content and rich levels of manganese work to metabolize sugar and insulin.
Tip: Add walnuts to salads and oatmeal, or grab a handful for a snack.