By: Amanda McQuade Crawford
Increasing your metabolism is a great way to lose weight naturally, and often permanently. This is because unlike fad diets, changing the kinds of foods you eat in order to give your metabolism a boost is a good way to alter your eating habits in a sustainable manner - without consuming even more calories or food energy. These 10 superfoods will boost your metabolism and speed up your body’s energy intake by degrees – and spearhead a healthier lifestyle at the same time!
Apples – One study found that overweight women lost more weight snacking on apples than when they sought out “weight loss” food or oatmeal cookies to fight their cravings. Tip: choose organic apples, and triple the benefit. Why? Because organic apple peels are packed with magnesium, vitamin C, trace iron, and about half of an apple’s total fiber. Organic apples don’t have nearly as much pesticide residue, either. Lastly – organic fruits are veritably bursting with flavor, unlike bland and mushy commercial versions.
Oatmeal – this morning staple has protein, and plenty of all the right kinds of fiber, which helps people who eat it in the morning to feel fuller longer (this is a phenomenon called “satiety”). To spice up your boring old bowl of porridge, add either fresh or dried fruits like cherries, raisins or strawberries. If you can stand it, avoid the extra milk as well – this adds fat and unneeded calories.
Eggs – Some mornings, you can switch up your breakfast to eggs. Studies show that we tend to eat up to 400 fewer calories on days where we start with eggs instead of a bagel. That can add up to a potential of 15 pounds lost per year. Good quality whole eggs are packed with nutrients, too: vitamin E, omega-3 essential fatty acids, and of course, protein. And then there’s the social factor – there is a large community that benefits when you purchase organic, cage-free, hormone free eggs … the benefits start at home with you and your family.
Soup – Believe it or not, soup can be easily substituted for breakfast, especially in the colder months. Two 10oz servings of broth a day can almost double the amount of weight you can potentially lose in 6 months. If you’d like to hearten-up your breakfast bowl, add your own vegetables. If you’re feeling especially daring, add brown seaweed (especially wakame). Sea vegetables burn fat and feed your energy reserves, without tasting too fishy for the rest of your family!
Yogurt – Consuming the calcium in plain, low-fat yogurt three times a day for three months seems to increase your body’s fat-burning efforts. As a motivation for your family (teens especially) add fresh berries when they’re in season. These are often packed with antioxidants that promote clear skin and a heartened immune system. Tip: A 3oz serving of plain yogurt can be turned into salad dressing or vegetable dip by adding a dash of sea salt, oregano, parsley, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and coarse black pepper. Warming spices increase your metabolism as well.
Cauliflower – As hard as it might be to encourage your kids to eat this starchy, cancer-fighting vegetable, it has major benefits: the folate and vitamin C will boost their metabolisms … you’ll just have to figure out how to make it taste “good.” To that end, steam florets and mash with a clove of garlic, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan. Broccoli and bok choy are great choices as well – except that the same “taste” problem often applies. Or, you can rediscover raw radishes. Soak them in cold water for 5 minutes to cut that harsher “bite” and they can become more addictive than potato chips – and boost your metabolism and immunity too.
Salad – We’re not talking about iceberg lettuce, mind you: that is simply water (and often pesticides) disguised as a vegetable. Instead, splurge on dark, leafy greens. Serving your family a never-ending bowl of mixed greens, vegetables and protein is a great way to eat real food until everyone is full – and prevent children from reaching into the bread basket or filling up on pasta. Be forewarned: children used to the crunch (and lack of anything else) of Iceberg lettuce may need a little flavor to wean them off the “imaginary” veggies and onto a truly nutritious salad. Try finely cut basil, Italian parsley, and/or cilantro in butter with grated carrots.
Vegetarian Protein – Protein from vegetables is light-years ahead of the GMO soy protein you’ll find in chicken nuggets, breaded fish sticks, and many other “convenience” foods. Instead, you and your family will love rediscovering vegetable proteins in beans, lentils, soups and salads. Here’s an excellent seasoning combo: a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of epazote (from the Mexican spice aisle), and a dash of red pepper to reduce the gassy effects of eating beans. And while it may sound counter-intuitive, organic peanut butter combined with fresh alfalfa sprouts slathered on whole-grain bread is a great quick meal on-the-run … and it’s packed with enzymes for protein digestion as well.
White Fish –Steamed white cod or halibut with lime or lemon is the number one most-filling food on my list, and here’s why: Swedish studies suggest that eating fish for lunch means eating 11% less at dinner. For some people, that’s enough to drop up to 15 pounds in 8 months! Since these are oily fish from the coldest waters on earth, they’re also packed with intense, satisfying flavor. If your children either can’t or won’t eat fish, consider hormone free chicken or turkey. If budgets allow, grass-fed organic beef dinners are a nice treat. Remember though, too many red meat dinners not only antagonizes any fitness plans you may have, but also indirectly threatens the few remaining wild places on our planet. Give cows and pigs a break – we are what we eat.
Nuts – Consuming 10 to 20 almonds, roasted unsalted peanuts, or raw cashews with a 10oz glass of water fills up a growing child for two hours, providing protein, carbohydrates, and fat with fewer calories than you’d guess (Just don’t wolf down huge handfuls). Also, try grinding a tablespoon of flax seeds into protein smoothies, salad dressings or breakfast cereal. Many “flax” cereals or breads have too little of the actual flax in them to be effective. Seeds and nuts provide the most concentrated array of health-boosting nutrients while simultaneously preventing blood sugar from dropping.
Family Involvement Improves Chances of Success
Get your kids (and anyone else in your family) into the kitchen to try out these different recipes and combinations. Have them mix up their own yogurt dips, taste different seeds and nuts, etc. Giving them a more meaningful decision-making role (to a point) will have a more permanent effect on their food choices and eating habits.
With children, show them the side-panel nutritional information of a box of pop-tarts, as compared to organic cereals or treats. Awareness of empty calories helps children make better food choices. As a parent, you can empower yourselves by shopping economically, around the periphery of a supermarket – a habit that reduces your dependence on “convenience” items. Also, reward older children for making conscious, healthy eating habits with more TV, computer or video game time … whatever it takes.