Sur­prise Su­per­foods

Men's Health - Belly Off Guide - - CONTENTS - BY RACHEL MELTZER WAR­REN

These seven once-for­bid­den foods can ac­tu­ally help you lose weight

You want to shed some ki­los, and im­me­di­ately your per­sonal list of no-no’s grows. No bread or pota­toes – too many carbs. No cho­co­late – too fat­ten­ing. Sound fa­mil­iar? Di­ets don’t have to be so strict, says di­eti­cian Mil­ton Stokes. In fact, for­bid­ding cer­tain foods can back­fire. “Thanks to fad di­ets that aren’t based in solid sci­ence, I of­ten see clients avoid­ing foods that would help them con­trol overeat­ing or fight belly fat and ul­ti­mately lose weight,” he says. “Worse still, hav­ing an off-lim­its list is like stuffing your crav­ings into a plas­tic bag. Even­tu­ally it’s go­ing to burst open, un­leash­ing all your urges at once, which leads to binge­ing.” The real key to weight loss? “Mind your P’s and Q’s – watch por­tions and choose qual­ity, nu­tri­ent-rich foods,” says Sari Greaves, a na­tional spokesper­son for the Amer­i­can Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion. Here’s how the top foods typ­i­cally dis­missed by di­eters can help you hap­pily slim down.

Cheese

GREAT SOURCE OF CAL­CIUM, WHICH BURNS KILO­JOULES

At about 418 kilo­joules and five out of ev­ery 28 grams be­ing fat, cheese usu­ally tops the no-no list, but its cal­cium im­proves your abil­ity to burn kilo­joules and fat, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­search re­view. Not get­ting enough of this min­eral may trig­ger the re­lease of cal­citriol, a hor­mone that causes the body to store fat. Sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Ten­nessee found that peo­ple on a re­duced-kilo­joule diet who in­cluded an ex­tra 300 to 400 mil­ligrams of cal­cium a day lost sig­nif­i­cantly more weight than those who ate the same num­ber of kilo­joules but with less cal­cium. Sci­en­tists aren’t ex­actly sure why, but eat­ing cal­cium-rich foods is more ef­fec­tive than tak­ing cal­cium sup­ple­ments – and cheese has about 7 mil­ligrams to ev­ery gram. Just stick to 55g por­tions, and choose light va­ri­eties to get the same health ben­e­fits for half the kilo­joules.

Bread

CON­TAINS CAR­BO­HY­DRATES, WHICH BOOST BRAIN CHEM­I­CALS THAT CURB OVEREAT­ING

Bread is an ex­cel­lent source of carbs, which your brain needs to pro­duce sero­tonin, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that pro­motes feel­ings of com­fort and sat­is­fac­tion, says Dr Nina T. Frusz­ta­jer, a physi­cian who spe­cialises in nutri­tion and is co-au­thor of The Sero­tonin Power Diet. “As your body di­gests car­bo­hy­drates, it re­leases in­sulin, which helps chan­nel tryp­to­phan – an amino acid – into the brain. Tryp­to­phan then gets con­verted to sero­tonin,” she ex­plains. When sero­tonin lev­els are op­ti­mal, you feel calm and happy and have fewer crav­ings; when they’re low, you feel depressed and ir­ri­ta­ble, mak­ing you more likely to overeat. Breads con­tain­ing whole grains are health­i­est, and one serv­ing equals one slice of bread, half an English muf­fin or a small roll.

Peanut But­ter

RICH IN HEALTHY FATS THAT HELP BAN­ISH BELLY FLAB

Stud­ies show that di­ets high in mo­noun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (abun­dant in peanut but­ter and nuts) pre­vent ac­cu­mu­la­tion of fat around the mid­sec­tion, boost kilo­joule burn, and pro­mote weight loss. In fact, peo­ple who eat one serv­ing of nuts or peanut but­ter two or more times a week gain fewer kilo­grams than those who rarely eat them, ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search from the Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health. One rea­son: ` snack that in­cludes peanut but­ter helps you stay full for up to 2½ hours, com­pared with 30 min­utes for a carb-only snack such as a rice cake, finds re­search from Pur­due Uni­ver­sity. (Car­bo­hy­drates sat­isfy a crav­ing, while nuts keep you feel­ing full.) Peanut but­ter and nuts are high in kilo­joules, so stick with a 2-ta­ble­spoon por­tion – about the size of a golf ball.

Pasta

A HIGH FLUID CON­TENT KEEPS YOU SAT­IS­FIED LONGER

Cooked pasta and rice are about 70% wa­ter – and eat­ing fluid-rich foods keeps you fuller longer, com­pared with dry foods, ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Bri­tish Nutri­tion Foun­da­tion. Like bread, the carbs in pasta boost sero­tonin to help curb overeat­ing. The proper

por­tion of pasta is ½ cup cooked, or about the size of an ice cream scoop. Choose whole grain va­ri­eties for fill­ing fi­bre, and add grilled chicken and lots of veg­gies to bulk up your dish even more.

Pota­toes

PRO­VIDE A FORM OF RE­SIS­TANT STARCH, A FI­BRE THAT BURNS FAT

These veg­gies may be one of our most mis­un­der­stood foods. Fried or doused in sour cream, they’re not go­ing to help you lose weight. But when boiled or baked, a potato’s starch ab­sorbs wa­ter and swells. Once chilled, por­tions of the starch crys­tal­lize into a form that resists di­ges­tion-re­sis­tant starch. Un­like other types of fi­bre, re­sis­tant starch gets fer­mented in the large in­tes­tine, cre­at­ing fatty acids that may block the body’s abil­ity to burn car­bo­hy­drates. In their place, you burn fat. A healthy potato serv­ing is about the size of a fist.

Fruit

SOOTHES A SWEET TOOTH NAT­U­RALLY FOR FEW KILO­JOULES

Some di­eters skip this low-kilo­joule fare when they start watch­ing the scale, thanks to once-popular di­ets that elim­i­nated fruit in their most re­stric­tive phases. But new re­search pub­lished in the jour­nal Obe­sity Re­views looked at 16 dif­fer­ent stud­ies and found over­whelm­ingly that eat­ing fruit is as­so­ci­ated with weigh­ing less. In one study from Brazil, par­tic­i­pants who added three small ap­ples to their reg­u­lar meals and snacks lost 5kg in 10 weeks with­out di­et­ing. Al­though fruit does con­tain the nat­u­ral sugar fruc­tose, it doesn’t raise blood sugar lev­els like ta­ble sugar does; plus, it’s high in wa­ter and fill­ing fi­bre and low in kilo­joules. Aim to add three serv­ings of fresh fruit to your daily menu – but skip the high-kilo­joule juice. Great picks (with av­er­age kilo­joules per cup): fresh melon (209), grapes (251), berries (293) and cit­rus fruits (314).

Dark Cho­co­late

SAT­IS­FIES A COM­MON CRAV­ING TO PRE­VENT BINGE­ING

Up to 97% of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence crav­ings, and cho­co­late is the most com­mon and “in­tensely” craved food, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study. Hav­ing an oc­ca­sional small serv­ing of a favourite treat is bet­ter than de­priv­ing your­self, which may lead to a binge, says Greaves. In fact, peo­ple who tried to not think about cho­co­late ate two-thirds more of it than peo­ple who were told to talk about it freely, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tish re­search. Dark va­ri­eties are more sat­is­fy­ing than milk cho­co­late, say sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Copen­hagen, but mea­sure your por­tion, and be mind­ful when you eat. Slowly savour­ing one or two squares of a high-qual­ity dark cho­co­late bar will sat­isfy a crav­ing more than wolf­ing down a box of Smar­ties in front of the TV.

YES, YOU CAN HAVE PASTA AND LOSE WEIGHT

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