Vegetarians have an advantage over meat-eaters in terms of weight loss because plant-based staples are packed with fiber. Meanwhile, animal-based foods have zero fiber.
Dairy products and eggs don’t contain fiber either, so vegans are a step ahead of vegetarians in losing weight. Why should you care about fiber? In addition to adding little-to-no calories, fiber keeps the digestive tract healthy, controls the appetite, and promotes regular bowel movements.
Not only does a high-fiber diet enhance weight control and improve gastrointestinal function, it’s also been linked to the prevention and treatment of chronic heart disease, reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of cancer, and blood glucose control. “Plant-based diets are low in energy density and high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and water, which may increase satiety and resting energy expenditure,” according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
So let’s take a closer look at six plant foods that not only support weight loss, but actually promote fat burning in your body.
Some dieters shy away from avocados because the average one contains 21 grams of fat. But just as food isn’t your enemy, fat isn’t either—at least not every type. According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Dietary Guidelines, avocados are the only fruit that has monounsaturated fat, which is the good fat that lowers cholesterol, and they also contain about 80 percent dietary fiber.
In a study of 26 overweight adults, participants who ate half of an avocado at lunch reported increased satiation, less hunger, and less desire to overeat. Numerous studies about monounsaturated fats have shown that diets rich in these foods prevent fat from accumulating around the abdomen.
All beans are packed with fiber and are low in calories, but black beans are among the best for fat burning. Dark colored beans generally have higher amounts of phenolic compounds, which can interfere with glucose absorption and play an important role in weight management. A half cup of black beans provides the body with 100 calories and 6 grams of fiber, with no cholesterol or fat. They’re also a great source of vegan protein.
According to a University of Colorado study, foods high in resistant starch (like black beans) help the body burn up to 24 percent more calories throughout the day. And since they’re low on the GI scale, black beans help the body metabolize fatty acids instead of letting them collect and expand.
Many leafy green vegetables, like spinach, are low in calories and high in fiber, which makes you feel full faster and eat less. A cup of raw spinach has about 3.5 grams of fiber, which is significant because of its nutrient density and the fact that it has just eight calories per serving.
Recently, studies have been conducted using spinach extract, which is a concentrated liquid form of the vegetable. A Swedish experiment at Lund University studied 38 overweight women for three months and saw a 95 percent decrease in hedonic hunger and a 43 percent increase in weight loss.
Spinach has the power to reduce cravings, because it is broken down slowly and naturally in the body, allowing the stomach to signal to the brain that it’s had enough to eat. Unlike heavily processed foods and animal products, spinach slows the digestion process enough to send and receive these signals.
Like spinach, broccoli is loaded with fiber and calcium, nutrients that break down fat in the body and prevent new fat from forming. Raw broccoli has four grams of fiber per half-cup serving and only 20 calories. It’s an incredibly filling vegetable that keeps your appetite at bay for hours after a meal.
Broccoli is also very high in vitamin C, which is often associated with boosting the immune system and also plays a role in fat burning and weight loss. Researchers who published a healthy weight loss study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition wrote, “Individuals with adequate vitamin C status oxidize 30 percent more fat during a moderate exercise bout than individuals with low vitamin C status; thus, vitamin C-depleted individuals may be more resistant to fat mass loss.”
Nuts are a well-known appetite suppressant, but almonds in particular are effective in burning fat in the body and maximizing digestive flow. Since almonds are low in carbohydrates, which stimulate the appetite, you can decrease your food cravings by eating about 20-25 almonds per day.
Interestingly, research shows that people who eat nut-rich diets excrete more fat in their stools. Because of the way almonds and pecans store lipid granules, they don’t readily absorb into the body as fat, but pass through the digestive system with ease.
Green tea has been called a fat-burning elixir, because it contains polyphenols that activate enzymes in your fat cells. A polyphenol known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) significantly reduces body weight and interacts with appetite control pathways.
With deep roots in ancient ceremonies and spiritual traditions, this tea is also powerful enough to boost metabolism. Because of its thermogenic properties, green tea promotes fat oxidation, which is the process of fatty acids breaking down and releasing energy.
BY CHRIS WILLITTS