Manufacturers often alter foods to make them appear healthier. You know the routine: reduced fat, low carb, less calories, 50% less sugar…
The reality is a cookie is a cookie, period. (Yep, even that silly Cookie Diet.)
Any time you remove something from a food, you’ve got to add something else. Manufacturers compensate low-fat yogurt, for instance, with added sugar. Low-carb foods, likewise, often come packed with artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and higher amounts of saturated fat. Call it fat-free or whatever, but bread is still loaded with gluten.
Rather than buy supposedly healthier versions of junk foods, I want you to fill up on the whole foods I discuss in The Virgin Diet so you have no cabinet space (let alone appetite) for the Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake and Pirate’s Booty aged white cheddar popcorn.
Before you take away, I want you to add these 5 things to your diet for fast fat loss:
- Fiber. Want the number one nutrient that, hands down, helps you get fast fat loss? No contest: fiber. Fiber slows stomach emptying and suppresses ghrelin, a hormone your stomach produces to remind you to eat. More fiber means you’re less likely to go down in those walnut blondies you made for your daughter’s class. A study in the journal Nutrition Review showed people who got just 14 grams of fiber last four pounds over four months without any additional food restrictions. (I’m not giving you permission, by the way, to load up on fiber and still eat a brownie.) Fiber also helps you detox, lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol, and helps support a healthy gastrointestinal tract. High-fiber foods I recommend on The Virgin Diet include avocado, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and berries.
- Plant-based protein powder. Forget those hulking containers of whey protein. There’s a more civilized protein on your health food store shelves these days that contains plant-based proteins like pea, rice, chlorella, and even potato which, combined, packs quite an impressive amino acid profile. A systematic evaluation in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that protein-based meal replacement shakes “can safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss and improve weight-related risk factors of disease.” I recommend you start every morning with The Virgin Diet Shake: plant-based protein powder, unsweetened coconut or almond milk, berries, and kale (yes, kale!) for a fast, fat-burning breakfast that keeps you full for hours.
- Vegetables. Let’s get this out first: corn, potatoes, peas, and carrots are not vegetables. That said, you could eat bushels of spinach and still not tally up many calories. Vegetables – particularly green, leafy ones – are nutrient- and fiber-packed powerhouses for very few calories. Be creative: even your most finicky kid will love Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil with a little organic bacon. (Some good fat will help you absorb the veggie’s fat-soluble vitamins.) If you’re not meeting your 5-to-10 veggies serving quota, find creative ways to incorporate them like a mixed-green salad or a hearty winter soup. And yes, slipping leafy greens into The Virgin Diet Shake counts towards your veggie quota.
- Fish. Fat helps you burn fat? I know, it sounds crazy. But omega 3 fatty acids in wild, cold-water fish can shunt fat away from fat cells and allow your body to burn it for fuel. A study in the journal Appetite concluded eating fish suppresses post-meal hunger longer. Omega 3s also increase insulin sensitivity and raise your metabolism, both of which help you burn fat. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that mice that got fish oil with their high-fat diet metabolized more fat and gained significantly less weight than the high-fat mice that didn’t get fish oil. Opt for wild-caught salmon and other fish or choose a professional-quality fish oil supplement.
- Green Tea. You know all those fast fat loss supplements that celebrities endorse? Almost every one contains a compound in green tea called EGCG, which boosts metabolism so you burn fat. Skip those overpriced supplements and your afternoon latte for a hot green tea. A study in the journal Physiology & Behavior concluded people who drink green tea burn more fat than non-tea drinkers. Green tea also contains theanine, which reduces stress, cortisol levels, and your waistline.
Auvichayapat P, et al. Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial. Physiol Behav. 2008 Feb 27;93(3):486-91.
Heymsfield SB, et al. Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 May;27(5):537-49.
Howarth NC, Saltzman E. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.
Mori T, et al. Dietary Fish Oil Upregulates Intestinal Lipid Metabolism and Reduces Body Weight Gain in C57BL/6J Mice. American Society for Nutrition. J. Nutr. 137:2629-2634, December 2007.
Parra D, et al. A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Appetite. 2008 Nov;51(3):676-80.