Getting rid of excess body fat is all about burning more calories than you consume. Discover how these simple nutrition tips can help put your body into fat burning mode. After all… you don’t have to work out quite as hard to stay in shape if you limit the amount of calories you consume to begin with.
First of all… it’s not just about how much you eat! Equally – if not more – important is what you eat. For example, you would have to eat a couple of pounds of cucumber to consume the same amount of calories contained in one average candy bar.
Many people can greatly reduce the amount of calories they eat every day by simply replacing some of their daily snacks with healthier, low calorie alternatives.
This brings as to our first tip:
Eat more vegetables
As a rule fresh vegetables contain less of what you don’t want (calories, additives, preservatives, sugar and salt) and more of what you need (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and amino acids) when compared to processed foods.
Many people can dramatically improve their diets – and reduce their calorie intake – by snacking on veggies instead of all the prepacked, processed snacks they usually eat.
Some vegetables are even said to help combat belly fat (see: Fight abdominal fat with these veggies).
Eat more low calorie foods
Searching the internet you’ll find plenty of articles listing so called negative calorie foods. These are foods that require more energy (calories) to digest than they provide.
But is there really such a thing as a food that burns more calories than it contains? According to numerous experts, negative-calorie foods are a myth. Foods that are claimed to be negative in calories are actually just low-calorie foods.
That being said – even though they might not burn more calories than they contain – these foods are still a great choice if you feel like a snack.
Some healthy, low-calorie foods you may want to include in your diet are:
- Celery: rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, celery is a great low calorie food. It helps reduce hunger pangs and promotes healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.
- Leafy greens: they’re full of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and amino acids. They promote your overall health in so many ways it’s not even funny – and most people don’t eat nearly enough of them. Some great leafy greens to include in your salad or smoothie are: kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, turnip greens, mustard greens – or even plain old cabbage.
- Grapefruit: contains vitamins, phytonutrients and a fiber called pectin – which is said to help protect your body against heart disease. Grapefruit is a well known diet food. It is said to help boost your metabolism. A great choice for breakfast or a morning snack.
- Apples: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away‘. Apples are full of powerful nutrients, as well as being low in calories and high in fiber. All this combined, makes them a great food to snack on.
- Watermelon: High in fiber and protein, watermelon is a great and refreshing snack for a warm summer day. It’s also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which may help protect against cancer.
- Tomatoes: They’re versatile, they’re delish… and they’re good for you. Numerous studies suggest that tomatoes may help protect you against cancer and help your body regulate blood sugar levels.
- Broccoli: Extremely rich in fiber, which aids digestion. Broccoli is also rich in beta-carotene, selenium and zinc – all of which help keep your immune system healthy. It also contains lutein, which is thought to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. For maximum benefits you should eat it raw or steam it.
- Cucumber: It’s rich in vitamin C, helps improve your body’s resistance to disease and is said to reduce inflammation. Cucumber is also a great food to keep you hydrated during and after workouts. Tip: eat it with the skin intact.
- Apsaragus: helps detoxify your body, flushes excess fluid out of your system and packed with powerful vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Best eaten raw or steamed.
- Arugula: Low on everything you don’t want (especially calories) and packed with all kinds of great nutrients such as vitamin C, K and A, fiber, antioxidants and potassium. All this makes arugula a great addition to any salad, soup or smoothie.
- Plain tea and coffee: Tea and coffee without sugar, milk or other additives should be your warm beverages of choice. They both contain caffeine, which helps boost your metabolism.
Although the whole negative-calorie food thing may be a myth, there is actually one thing that does cause your body to burn more calories than it provides…
Cold water! Water doesn’t contain any calories. When you drink cold water, your body has to expend energy to warm it up to body temperature. However… don’t start chugging down buckets of ice-water. It’s estimated that about 6 glasses of cold water will only burn about 10 extra calories.
The real power of drinking water comes from using it as a substitute for high calorie beverages – such as sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks and cocktails.
Don’t starve yourself
Reducing your calorie intake doesn’t mean stop eating altogether. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to function properly. If it doesn’t get them, it goes into starvation mode. When this happens your body will:
- Slow down your metabolism – which in turn slows down fat burning.
- Cause intense food cravings, which increase the chance of uncontrolled binge eating.
- Lower your energy level. This will probably reduce the amount of physical activity you engage in and lead to you coming up with all kinds of excuses not to stick to your workouts.
Aim for a healthy caloric deficit
Ok, you just learned that starving yourself isn’t the answer if you want to lose weight in a natural and healthy manner. However… at the beginning of this article we mentioned that you should be burning more calories than you eat.
In other words, you do need a calorie deficit to lose weight.
So… the question is: what should you aim for in terms of your daily calorie intake?
Experts agree that the ideal daily caloric deficit is about 20% below your daily maintenance level.
Learn to read food labels
When it comes to losing weight and burning fat, it’s best to aim for nutrient dense, low-calorie foods. As a general rule, the less processed – the better.
Whenever you buy food that comes in a pack, can or container, make it a habit to read the food label. Check the amount of calories, sugars, trans-fats, preservatives and salt it contains. Chances are you will be leaving certain processed foods on the shelves pretty quickly once you know what’s in them.
Making some small, simple changes can go a long way. Instead of trying to completely change every aspect of your diet in one go, it’s much easier to take it in small, manageable steps.
Replacing just one can of soda with a glass of water can reduce your daily calorie intake by up to 140 calories. The trick here is to do it consistently. Look for small changes you can make to your daily eating habits that will have a big impact on your calorie consumption.