REACHING FOR HIGH-ENERGY FOODS
Your body needs fuel to exercise, and the source of that fuel is food. That’s why some people report feeling hungrier when they start to work out. If you’re trying to lose weight, this could be counterproductive—unless you find the right balance of healthy, filling foods. (Snack AND lose weight with this box of Prevention-approved treats from Bestowed.)
The typical American diet is loaded with refined or simple carbohydrates such as white flours, rice, and pasta, and pastries, soda, and other sugary foods and drinks.
These carbs, which lack the fiber found in complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, and veggies), are metabolized by your body quickly.
So while you may feel raring to go after eating them, that energy boost will soon be followed by a major energy slump, making it hard to give your all during your workouts.
In addition, if many of the foods you eat are metabolized quickly, you’ll find yourself feeling hungry more often, which could mean more snacking and a higher calorie intake. To keep from eating back all the calories you’ve burned, stick to a diet based on these 6 science-backed components.
Eat at least 20 grams of fiber per day from vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Fiber helps you by keeping you full for a longer period of time—a huge benefit when it comes to weight loss.
A study from Brigham Young University College of Health and Human Performance demonstrated that women who ate more fiber significantly lowered their risk of weight gain.
Each gram of fiber eaten was linked to 1/2 pound less body weight. The researchers suspected that higher fiber intake led to a reduction in total calories over time.
CALCIUM & VITAMIN D
Strive for three servings of calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods a day. These nutrients often occur together in foods, especially dairy.
Calcium and vitamin D work together in your body, primarily to strengthen your bones. But if the latest research is any indication, both of these nutrients may flex some muscle in your weight loss success. Dairy foods are the prime source of calcium and vitamin D in the diet.
In a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, college students who came closest to meeting the three-a-day dairy requirement while eating an otherwise healthy diet weighed less, gained less, and actually lost belly fat, compared with students who consumed little or no dairy.
Moreover, vitamin D by itself may play a role in weight control. Extra body fat holds on to vitamin D so that the body can’t use it. This perceived deficiency interferes with the action of the hormone leptin, whose job is to tell your brain that you’re full. And if you can’t recognize when you’re satiated, you’re more likely to overeat.
You may also want to consider a vitamin D supplement. The latest research suggests that this nutrient may be a factor in protecting you from everything from heart disease to memory loss and even chronic pain.
Evidence is mounting that we need more than the current recommended intakes, especially as we age, because older skin produces less vitamin D (and sunscreens block the body’s ability to use sunlight to produce this vitamin). That’s why the leading experts in vitamin D research are now recommending a daily supplement of 1,000 IU of vitamin D—the kind most readily used by the body.
Daily Recommended Calcium Intake
Men and women ages 19-50: 1,000 milligrams Men and women age 51+: 1,200 milligrams
Daily Recommended Vitamin D Intake
Men and women ages 19-50: 200 IU Men and women ages 51-70: 400 IU Men and women age 71+: 600 IU
These include monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids, found in oils, nuts, avocados, certain fish—and yes, even chocolate! Eat 3-4 servings daily.
A study published in the journal Appetite shows how these fats—besides being good for your heart—can help you feel fuller longer after meals.
The study participants with a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids (more than 1,300 milligrams a day, either from foods or from supplements) reported feeling less hungry right after their meals, as well as 2 hours later, compared with a lower omega-3 intake (less than 260 milligrams a day). Less hunger means less munching and an easier time keeping calories in check.
More specific research has been done on walnuts, a good source of monounsaturated fats. An Australian study had participants follow a healthy low-fat diet, either with walnuts or without. Both groups ate the same number of calories and lost approximately the same amount of weight at 6 months. But during the next 6 months of the year long study, the walnut-eaters continued to lose weight and body fat, while the other group stopped losing—even though they were still following the same diet.