Berries are packed with polyphenol antioxidants that will help burn fat—and prevent it from forming—as well as boost your workout benefits by improving blood flow to your muscles. According to a Texas Woman's University study, mice that ate three daily servings of berries had 73 percent fewer fat cells. Pop some of the blue guys into your next smoothie and boost the fat-burning potential: blueberries are a potent source of resveratrol, an antioxidant which an International Journal of Obesity study showed could convert excess harmful white fat in mice into calorie-burning beige fat, which correlated with a 40 percent decreased risk for obesity. And when it comes to the sugar content in fruit, berries rank favorably on the list but are still a powerful way to curb cravings for sweets.
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That sour cherry is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. The results of a study conducted at the University of Michigan found that rats given high-fat foods along with tart cherries ditched nine percent more body fat than those in a control group over just 12 weeks. Cherries are also a good source of antioxidant pigment resveratrol, which has been linked to reductions in belly fat, dementia risk, and lower rates of macular degeneration among the elderly.
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To avoid feeling hungry after a workout, eat a snack with at least 12 grams of protein before exercising, says Dr. Cheskin. And if you’re still hungry afterward? First, check in with yourself and make sure it’s actual hunger and not dehydration, says Dr. Cheskin. Then, eat a protein-rich snack that also includes some carbs, like a protein bar with whole grains.
If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective (and therefore make progress toward your weight loss goals), the ideal number is typically seven or eight hours, says Dr. Cheskin.
Although your diet steers your weight loss progress, not getting enough sleep can be a giant roadblock. When you don't get enough sleep each night, you're more likely to eat more calorie-dense meals the next day, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While we know sleep is an important part of any weight loss routine, many of us don't realize eating certain foods before putting our heads on the pillow may actually enhance our ability to fall and stay asleep. Among the best foods to eat before sleep is cottage cheese. This snack is rich in casein protein—a slow releasing milk protein that will keep a rumbling tummy at bay through the night—and also contains the sleep-promoting amino acid tryptophan.
This naturally sweet winter squash boasts one of the highest fiber counts of all the veggies, ringing in at a whopping 9 grams per cup. Promoting feelings of fullness—and thus staving off overeating so you can burn, rather than gain, fat—with satiating fiber isn't the only way you'll target that turkey neck. That's because acorn squash is also an excellent source of vitamin C, a micronutrient that your body uses to decrease levels of the fat-storing hormone cortisol and boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.
You may also know this root veggie as a sunchoke since they're the roots of a type of sunflower. According to a Canadian study, subjects whose diets were supplemented with a type of gut-healthy insoluble fiber called oligofructose not only lost weight but reported less hunger than those who received a placebo. Researchers discovered that the subjects who consumed the prebiotic fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—the hunger-suppressing hormone—and lower levels of blood sugar. And you guessed it: Jerusalem artichokes are one of the best sources of the fiber.
Carbs are not the enemy. Not whole-grain carbs, that is. People who ate three or more daily servings of whole grains (such as oats) had 10 percent less belly fat than people who ate the same amount of calories from processed white carbs (bread, rice, pasta), according to a Tufts University study. It's theorized that this is due to whole grains' high fiber and slow-burn properties, which keep you satiated longer.