Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Denise Schipani
Slim down, speed up, and boost your health with key nutrient-packed foods and drinks.
When runners think of superfoods, exotic, hard-to-find ingredients often come to mind. Acai berry extract? Kelp noodles? Seriously? But superfoods don’t have to be obscure to be, well, super. Think of the simple lentil, carrying a load of nutritional power in a tiny package, or consider the marvel of perfect protein in an egg.
Nutritional prowess aside, these foods have another quality that makes them worthy of the “super” moniker: They can help you lose weight. That lentil can rev your calorie-burning engine. And eggs help hold off hunger till lunch. These 11 superfoods provide nutrients runners need-while also boosting metabolism, burning fat, or keeping you fuller longer.
Full of hunger-reducing fiber and protein, beans pack another weight-loss superpower: resistant starch. Foods high in this nutrient (a type of carb that passes undigested through your intestine) may force your body to use extra energy to try to break them down. University of Colorado researchers found that adults who ate meals with resistant starch had higher postmeal metabolic rates. Resistant starches may also help control appetite.
Get the Boost: Puree beans with garlic and a bit of oil for a healthy dip for veggies.
Spicy peppers get their kick from capsaicin. In 2010, researchers at UCLA gave study subjects a capsule containing a capsaicin relative (called dihydrocapsiate, or DCT), while others took a placebo. The DCT group burned more calories postmeal than the placebo group. “Eating spicy food may also dull your urge to continue to eat,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, M.S., R.D., a New York City nutritionist and author of The Belly Fat Fix.
Get the Boost: Sprinkle cayenne or chili powder on recipes from casseroles to grilled fruit. Use jalapenos in marinades and salsas.
These tiny legumes are a metabolic powerhouse. Like beans, they contain resistant starch and trigger digestive thermogenesis, says Cohn. Lentils are rich in iron, and if you’re deficient in this mineral, your body is less efficient at using calories for fuel, says Marlo Mittler, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist at North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital in New York.
Get the boost: Add lentils to salads. Make lentil soup a frequent lunch choice.
BURN FAT FASTER
Not only does grass-fed beef taste better than that derived from corn-fed cows, it has a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Most Americans’ diets contain too much omega-6 (which can be inflammatory) and too little omega-3 (which is anti-inflammatory), says Cohn. Grass-fed beef has high amounts of a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA). Your body uses CLA to build muscle–a fat-burning machine.
Fat Fix: Grass-fed beef is pricey. But cutting back on your total meat consumption (and splurging on grass-fed beef when you do eat red meat) is better for your health.
This popular tea gets its fat-burning boost from EGCG. “This phyto-chemical promotes fat oxidation and thermogenesis,” says Cohn. The effect has been shown repeatedly over the years. In a group of studies reported in a 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tea drinkers (not just green, but black and white teas, too) burned more calories and fat daily than nondrinkers.
Fat Fix: Swap your second cup of coffee for a cup of green tea. Add unsweetened iced green tea to smoothies, or mix it with your sports drink for a caffeine boost.
YOUR WEIGHT LOSS.
The skin of red-wine grapes contains resveratrol, a polyphenol linked to many well-known benefits, such as a decreased risk of heart disease. But, says Cohn, resveratrol has also been shown to reduce the production of stress hormones that compel your body to store fat.
Fat Fix: Order that glass of Cab. Just keep your daily consumption reasonable: no more than one for women or two for men per day.
Sesame Seeds and Oil
A compound in sesame oil called sesamin has been shown to have a potential fat-burning effect, says Cohn. “It may be that it increases the production of ketones, which helps your body maintain muscle, which in turn burns fat.” In addition, lignans found in sesame seeds help your liver produce the enzymes necessary for fat metabolism.
Fat Fix: Use sesame oil in dressings and to drizzle over finished dishes. Coat chicken or fish with sesame seeds before cooking.
FEEL FULL LONGER
These creamy green fruits are a rich source of monounsaturated fat, which is both heart-healthy and satiating. Like any fat eaten as part of a meal, avocados are last in line for digestion, so they stick with you: Overweight people in a recent study at Loma Linda University in California who ate half an avocado at lunch reported a significant decrease in the desire to eat later in the afternoon.
Fill up: Slice half an avocado onto a lunch salad, or smoosh it into a sandwich in place of less-healthy mayo.
LOSS LEADERS: SOUPS, EGGS, AVOCADOS, AND POTATOES CAN HELP YOU FEEL FULL LONGER.
“Eggs contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein,” says Mittler. They make a stick-to-you breakfast because the protein keeps your blood sugar from spiking and then crashing and causing hunger. In fact, studies show that eating eggs for breakfast can help you lose more weight than eating the same number of calories from carbs.
Fill up: Hard-boil a dozen so you have a quick, easy-peel breakfast all week.
Turns out, you can’t dump these tubers in the same bin as low-nutrient carbs like white bread or white rice. Loaded with resistant starch (not to mention vitamin C and potassium), potatoes have staying power, keeping hunger pangs at bay two to three times longer than other starches, says Mittler.
Fill up: Bring the baked potato back into dinner rotation. Top it with a drizzle of coconut oil or a sprinkle of Parmesan-not piles of sour cream, butter, and bacon.
Consuming a bowl of soup has been shown to curb your subsequent calorie intake. The effect is twofold, says Mittler: First, it fills you up. But soup’s satiating effects also have to do with warmth: “Warm liquids have a greater psychological effect on fullness than cold ones.”
Fill up: Ordering a starter when you’re out to eat? Scan the menu for broth-based soups, which are usually lower in calories than creamy ones.