The idea that somehow certain foods can burn fat leaves most experts unconvinced. After all if that was the case we would all live on big mac and ice cream as long as we made sure it all got washed down with 2 gallons of lemon water afterwards.
So while experts disagree on whether there are superfoods that increase the metabolic rate, we do know there are foods that will slow down metabolism and cause fat gain. And the more of those foods we eat or drink the worse it gets. Beer belly didn’t get its name for the wrong reason.
Regardless of which side of the isle you sit on food’s ability to “burn “fat, truth is that fat gain comes down to four main factors:
- Lifestyle (inactivity, stress, lack of sleep, etc.)
- Hormones (thyroid, cortisol, etc.)
- Calories intake (eat more than you consume)
- Nutritional value (the type of food you eat)
Taking the view that “abs are made in the kitchen” let’s concentrate on the last two factors here. There are hundreds of diets out there. Some focus on portion control (i.e. cut down on calories) and some on food category restriction (i.e. eliminate certain foods). The truth is it’s actually a bit of both and in plain rude language here is why:
Imagine your belly being a bucket with a small hole at the bottom. Then you pour water in it. If you pour water quicker than it can discharge through the hole, the bucket will get full and water will start over spilling. That’s the equivalent of gaining fat by eating more calories than you consume.
If you pour in slower in the bucket but use a higher density fluid instead of water, the bucket will still spill. That’s the equivalent of gaining fat by eating foods that slow down metabolism and cause fat gain.
The result in both cases? Spillage, love handles, jiggly arms.
So how to prevent this? By eating healthier and less than you consume and this is where good snacking comes in! Snacking is when it all falls apart for a lot of us. By the time we get hungry we jump on anything we can possibly find. And then we jump on some more.
The trick is to plan ahead so that when hunger hits, you don’t snack on the office doughnuts. If you search the net you will come across a number of healthy suggestions like greek yogurt and granola or humus and carrot sticks but you will find that healthy doesn’t always mean bloat-free.
So here are my favourite 5 snacks that will tie you to the next meal without adding on to your weight:
Berries - Small ball of mixed berries containing approximately 225g of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Perfect snack for home or the office if you prepack or even get it from the local supermarket.
Cucumber - Quarter of a typical 100g cucumber sprinkled with olive oil and a touch of sea salt for taste. If a quarter doesn’t do it, have more. One great thing I love about this snack? You can have as much as you want. Perfect snack for kids as well.
Eggs & asparagus soldiers - My love for eggs is probably the main reason why I haven’t gone vegan. Asparagus is also a great veggie with no special introduction needed. A soft boiled egg with some steamed asparagus to dip makes for a filling snack. Not ideal for the office obviously but a great home snack idea.
Almonds - These are great for anywhere and everywhere but best to use some portion control here as you may find yourself end up eating a few too many. Best to go for no more than 50g of unsalted almonds or walnuts.
Apricots - Seasonal it may be, but great fruit snack as it is simple to eat, has a log glycemic load and just a couple of them should do the job keeping you full till lunch or dinner. Another snack that also does well with kids.
Of course there is a number of other options out there equally healthy but not always free of temporary unwanted side effects. For example fruit is generally a healthy option, it is not processed food and one that will give you a quick sugar fix.
But some fruits come with high glycemic load (GL). This means that when you eat them you actually feel like you devoured a bucket of sugar. Fruit is also rich in fibre which in the long run will keep your belly flat. In the short run though may cause gas and bloating. Far from ideal so low GL fruits like apricots, avocado (it’s a fruit!), watermelon, berries and cucumber are all snack champions.