It turns out that many of the “fattening” foods you avoid while trying to slim down actually have unique fat releasing properties that—in moderation, of course—can help you lose weight more quickly. And I love that you don’t need to deprive yourself: these are foods we all love to eat, and now there’s no reason to avoid them!
1. Red Wine
So many people have asked me if it’s OK to have a drink when you’re trying to lose weight. Listen up—this glass is for you! Many studies show that a small glass of wine a day is good for your heart, and cutting-edge research suggests that resveratrol, a potent anti-aging chemical found in red wine, is a fat releaser too.
In one study of more than 19,000 women of normal weight, light to moderate drinkers had less weight gain and less risk of becoming overweight than those who drank no alcohol. An animal study found that resveratrol improved exercise endurance and protected against obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
If you’re like me, you welcome any new excuse to add more chocolate to your life. You probably know that cocoa is packed with antioxidants, but recent research reveals that they may also help you release fat. A 2011 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that obese, diabetic mice that consumed a diet high in epicatechins, the antioxidants found in cocoa lived longer. The cocoa reduced degeneration of the arteries in their heart and it blunted fat deposition.
Raise your hand if dairy is one of the first things to go when you start a diet. How can you lose weight and eat pizza?! The fantastic news here is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. One University of Tennessee study showed that eating three servings of dairy a day significantly reduced body fat in obese subjects. And dairy is one of the best sources of calcium, another fat releaser. Research shows that people who don’t consume enough of this bone builder have greater fat mass and less control of their appetite.
4. Coconut Oil
Saturated fats are usually considered no-nos for dieters, but you shouldn’t shun this sweet, rich oil. It was shown to do some nifty things for abdominally obese women in a 2009 study out of Brazil, including decreasing waist circumference and improving the ratio of their good “HDL” cholesterol to bad “LDL.” In populations where coconut oil is commonly eaten, high cholesterol levels and heart disease are uncommon.
I’ve known about the power of MUFAs—monounsaturated fatty acids—to help reduce belly fat since 2006. They’re found in certain nuts and seeds (as well as olives, avocados, and dark chocolate). But after diving into the most current research, I also discovered the power of PUFAs—polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in fish as well as in many nuts and seeds—to boost metabolism and calorie burn.
Basically, when it comes to a healthy, filling snack, you can’t go wrong with nuts—they’re packed with fat releasing unsaturated fats, filling fiber (another fat releaser), and a host of other healthy nutrients. Although the benefits of nuts are becoming increasingly well known, I’m surprised that people still avoid them because of their fattening reputation. I’m here to tell you that you’re far better off munching on nuts than pretzels or any fat-free packaged, processed food