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Healthy Hedonist guide to great health

10 Foods That Will Help You Lose Weight

1. Salads and Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables are exactly what you might think: full of fiber, which helps cleanse the colon of excess material (which can add inches to your belly); and packed with nutrients that aid digestion and perk up your metabolic rate. Fibrous vegetables are filling and are an excellent alternative to starchy carbs. Vegetables are versatile and can be incorporated into filely any meal (even breakfast). Toss some fresh spinach in your omelette, have a big salad at every lunch along with your grilled fish and brown rice. Go on a favorite-vegetable-finding tour. If you haven't had a vegetable in a while, buy some and cook it up in a few different ways. You might be surprised at what you've been missing. Great choices for weight loss are broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, celery, cucumber, dark leafy lettuce, carrot, beets, cabbage, zucchini and bell pepper.

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2. Grapefruit

Grapefruit is an excellent breakfast food and can be added to a spinach salad for a little tartness. It's high in vitamin C and pretty nutritious in other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Grapefruits are especially noted for their weight loss potential because of its unusual effectiveness in reducing insulin levels. When we keep insulin down, we encourage our body to burn its fat reserves. If the flavor is too tart for you, drizzle it with a little agave syrup or sprinkle your favorite stevia powder on it.

3. Lean Proteins

Protein plays a very important role in weight loss and weight management for several reasons. First, protein stabilizes blood sugar levels by preventing insulin levels from spiking. Protein, in fact, creates an opposite effect in the body than sugar and simple carbs (which raise insulin levels). Rather than stimulating insulin, protein stimulates the production of glycogen, which tells the body to burn fat. Protein is also responsible for building muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, the speed at which your body burns calories. Excellent sources of lean protein are skinless chicken and turkey, fish, eggs and lean red meat.

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4. Low Fat Cottage Cheese and Low Fat or Non-Fat Yogurt

Cottage cheese contains casein, a milk protein that regulates insulin levels in the body. Casein ensures that the proteins and sugars in the cottage cheese (and anything else we eat along with it) are absorbed gradually into the bloodstream, avoiding insulin spikes. Low fat or non-fat yogurt is a light milk protein packed with probiotics, which aid digestion and reduce bloating. Yogurt makes an excellent snack. Be careful, though, many yogurts are loaded with sweeteners and artificial ingredients. Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt (low fat or fat free) and add your own sweetener (maple syrup, tupelo honey, agave syrup or stevia are good). And fruit on top will add even more nutrition.

5. Thermogenic Spices

Certain spices raise your body's metabolic rate, the rate at which your body burns calories. These spices include cinnamon, cardammon, ginger, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic, and mustard. Did you know that 1 teaspoon of mustard raises the metabolic rate 25% for up to three hours? Thermogenic condiments and beverages include lemon, vinegar, apple cider vinegar, iced water, green tea and coffee. A cup of coffee after a meal can help aid weight loss. Keep it at one, though, as coffee can throw off digestive processes.

6. Sprouts

Sprouts are filling ad contain as few as 5 calories in a half cup. Sprouted nuts and seeds unpack an amazing amount of nutrients and enzymes that are latent in the raw form. The enzyme content of sprouts aid digestion and cleanse the entire intestinal track. As you increase enzymes in your diet, many systems of the body are positively affected. Enzymes are known to reduce inflammation, not only in the digestive track, but in joints, muscles, tissue and organs. You can find alfalfa and other sprouts in most any grocery store. If you want to sprout at home, start with sunflower seeds, mung beans or lentils. Sprouting kits and a wide diversity of seeds are available on the web.

7. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, are low in calories and contain a full spectrum of nutrients, including zinc, iron and vitamins A, D, E and B12. In a study conducted by the Rochester Center for Obesity, women who ate eggs for breakfast every morning lost an average of two pounds a month (with no other dieting or exercise activities to help). Researchers believe that eating eggs for breakfast can help reduce hunger, and in turn, reduce calorie intake throughout the day. The secret ingredient: choline, a nutrient known for curbing appetite and sugar cravings. Doctors and nutritionists now believe that eating the whole egg (not just the whites) is healthier. The yolk contains most of the nutrients and is not a significant contributor to cholesterol and heart disease than previously thought. The big danger with eggs is the risk of salmonella poisoning. Be sure your eggs are thoroughly cooked to kill any bacteria the eggs might be harboring.

8. Almonds

Almonds are lower in calories than most other nuts and have a great protein to fat ratio. Almonds supply the body with fiber, vitamin E and magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral for fat burning. Too little magnesium leads to insulin resistance, which is implicated in weight gain and diabetes. Many people who are obese suffer from magnesium deficiency. In addition to regulating insulin levels, magnesium promotes glucose metabolism so that the carbohydrates we eat are used by the body as fuel and not stored as fat. Dr. Mehmet Oz (of Oprah fame) once said that eating a magnesium rich diet can make you younger. A few almond tips: the skins contain tannins, which can inhibit digestion for some people. If you soak almonds for a few hours or overnight, the skins soften and can easily be peeled off. Soaking almonds has other health benefits. The proteins are more digestible, the nutrient content increases and the nut goes into to sprouting mode so it contains enzymes, which actually help digestion.

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9. Whole Grains

Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, sprouted wheat bread and whole grain pastas are excellent staples in a weight management diet. Whole grains add fiber and bulk to your meals, filling you up on relatively few calories. Whole grain cereals and meusli are good breakfast choices. Use skim milk or soy milk and healthy sweeteners. You can spice it up with cinnamon, cardammon or ginger. These spices help burn body fat by raising metabolic levels. Include a whole grain at lunch and dinner, no more than twice the amount of your protein. Avoid processed grains: white bread, white rice, pasta and any other refined grain. They have been stripped of their nutrients, but more importantly, they break down very quickly into sugar, raising insulin levels rather quickly and signaling the body to store fat.

10. Dark Chocolate

Just to be clear, we're talking about DARK chocolate. And while no chocolate is low in calories or fat, dark chocolate has less of each compared to its milky counterpart. Dark chocolate is brimming with a healthy spectrum of anti-oxidants, making it a nutritious treat. Dark chocolate is very rich in flavor, so a little goes a long way. In fact, it's not easy to eat a large amount of dark chocolate. A little chunk can melt in your mouth for five minutes, making it a simple alternative to a chocolate dessert. If you're trying to lose weight, chances are you're experiencing deprivation. If you love chocolate, don't deprive yourself (you may end up binging later). Go for some dark chocolate and enjoy every minute of it.

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