One of the hidden properties of healthy eating that rarely gets much discussion in the mainstream press is the "thermic property" of foods. Yet, it is this very property which accounts for why not all foods are created equal.
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To sum up briefly, every individual has a resting metabolic rate. This is the rate at which your body burns calories in the absence of all other activities besides merely existing.
The thermic effect of eating refers to the energy you expend (aka the calories you burn) beyond your resting metabolic rate due simply to digesting and storing the food you have eaten.
Certain foods help you shed the pounds by burning calories through this thermic effect more so than others.
Other foods are great for fat loss, but for other reasons. They might be filling without having many calories, or they might pack a big punch nutritionally without packing on the pounds as well.
So without further ado, here are the top 9 foods that will burn calories for you.
1. Nuts (especially almonds and walnuts). Nuts make for a great snack, and each type of nut offers its own nutritional benefits. Walnuts, for example, offer beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, meanwhile, are a great source of vitamin E, which has been linked to healthy skin.
2. Chili peppers. Remember the thermic effect? Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which is a powerful metabolite. Capsaicin heats the body, and works effectively to decrease appetite so that you feel full after eating.
3. Eggs. Eggs are an incredible, low-calorie source of protein. In addition to protein, eggs provide large amounts of several other important nutrients. I recommend organic, cage-free eggs fortified with Omega-3.
4. Greek yogurt. A lot of dairy products aren't great for people trying to burn fat. Sugar-filled "fruity" yogurts are a great example. Greek yogurt, however, bucks this trend. Loaded with protein and low in sugar, Greek yogurt is a great option at snack time.
5. Grass-fed and lean meats. As a rule of thumb, grass-fed meats are better than grain-fed ones. Lean meats, like turkey, provide an outstanding amount of protein but are not loaded with fat. Protein has a high-thermic effect, and you can burn up to 30 percent of these types of calories through digestion alone.
6. Berries. You know that berries taste great, but did you also know that they are low in calories, high in fiber, and that each type of berry contains a great mix of vitamins and minerals? Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries all taste great mixed in Greek yogurt or even on a salad.
7. Green tea. Green tea is one drink that has a very high thermogenic effect. It contains epigallocatechin gallate, commonly referred to as EGCG, an antioxidant which has been shown to boost metabolism in the period after drinking it.
8. Spinach. Spinach is loaded with fiber, cancer-fighting flavonoids, and a host of antioxidants that help with everything from vision to blood pressure. Spinach also helps build strong bones by providing over 100 percent the daily value of vitamin K.
9. Fatty fish (such as tuna, sardines, salmon). Leptin, a hormone in your body, regulates your metabolism. Studies have shown that lower levels of leptin make for higher metabolisms. Fatty fish like salmon are great for fat loss because they boost metabolism and help keep leptin levels low.
Eat more of these fat fighting foods, train hard, and you'll be beach ready in no time.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net for more information.