Burn Fat with These Healthy Snacks
Having a snack attack? Put it to work for you with powerful fat-fighting nutrients. Research shows nibbling on the right foods can curb cravings, tame hunger, satisfy a sweet tooth and more. The next time you get the munchies, here's what to do.
Pictured Recipe: Mango-Date Energy Bites
Let's get one thing straight: The best way to burn fat is with exercise. A healthy combo of cardio and strength-training builds muscle and boosts your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories-and fat.
That said, many foods do help fight fat. Research shows certain nutrients can help you feel full, curb cravings, and-ever so slightly-bump up metabolism. All good news when you're trying to downsize your jeans.
Next time you feel a snack attack coming on, consider the tips and recipes below. They'll curb the urge to splurge and fight fat-deliciously.
Recipe to Try: Spiced Spanish Almonds
In one Harvard study, women who ate nuts two or more times a week gained less weight than women who nixed them. True, nuts are high in calories, but they have a lot going in their favor-including a feel-full combo of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Plus, nuts provide what's known as the crunch effect, which researchers say can help prevent overeating.
Related: The 10 Best Snacks for Weight Loss
Fill Up on Fiber
Recipe to Try: Coconut Curry Cashew Popcorn
Simply eating 30 grams of fiber every day (about 5 grams more a day than women under 50 need) can boost weight loss, according to a 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
What's more, soluble fiber-the kind found in seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruit and beans-may help you lose belly fat and keep it from coming back. Research shows that people who eat more soluble fiber have a lower risk of abdominal fat. In one five-year study, increasing daily soluble fiber by 10 grams-about as much fiber as in two small apples-led to a nearly 4 percent lower risk of gaining belly fat.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, Naturally
Recipe to Try: Apple "Donuts"
Craving something sweet? Step away from the candy or granola bar and reach for a piece of fruit instead. You'll save on calories while still enjoying a naturally sweet treat. And don't let that sweetness fool you: Multiple studies show that, despite being high in natural sugars, eating fruit helps with weight loss. In fact, eating the whole darned thing-peel, flesh and all-can tame hunger and help you feel full.
Spice Things Up
Recipe to Try: Spicy Chile-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Snacking on foods with a little kick may just help kick your weight-loss efforts up a notch. Chile peppers contain capsaicin, an antioxidant that makes them hot. Studies show eating foods with capsaicin may boost metabolism-just a little-and promote fat loss. Other studies suggest capsaicin may help you feel full and even curb cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
Related: 4 Easy Ways to Boost Metabolism
Pack in More Protein
Recipe to Try: Fig & Honey Yogurt
Nibbling on a hard-boiled egg or a little hummus, yogurt or other high-protein snack can help you fight fat in a number of ways. Many studies show protein curbs cravings, boosts metabolism and helps you eat less calories overall. People who eat more protein also tend to have less belly fat-and according to some studies, protein helps keep fat from coming back after you lose weight. In one study, boosting daily protein by just 3 percent cut weight regain in half.
Upping your protein may even help stop those midnight trips to the fridge. In a small 12-week study of overweight or obese men, those who ate more protein had fewer late-night cravings than those on a normal-protein diet.
Just Add Water
Recipe to Try: Watermelon with Lime
It's kind of a no-brainer: Eating water-rich foods like grapes, cucumbers and melon fills you up for fewer calories. One small study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who had chicken-rice soup for lunch ate fewer calories than those who were served a glass of water along with a chicken-rice casserole. And in another study, British researchers found that drinking plain tap water 30 minutes before every meal helped overweight people shed pounds. Cheers!
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Watch: How to Make Baked Chickpea "Nuts"
Some original reporting by Nicci Micco, M.S.