By now, many people have dropped their New Year’s Resolutions to eat healthier or lose the love handles. But the answer to great health and a healthy waistline are not in fad diets and stringent resolutions.

It is far better to add the healthiest and most beneficial foods to your diet to reap their rewards if you’re trying to improve metabolism and lose some excess fat in the process.


Few lists of weight loss foods ever include this fat-filled fruit. But thanks to their plentiful amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), avocado should be at the top of every list. In addition to their fat-burning effects when people switch from other types of fats to foods that are rich in MUFAs, research in the Nutrition Journal found that avocados replenished many of the nutrients that are deficient from our modern diet, including: fiber, vitamins A, C and K, as well as the minerals potassium and magnesium. From a nutritional perspective avocados will help your metabolism fire on all cylinders.


When it comes to weight loss, beans really are the magical fruit (even if they’re actually legumes), according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Not only do they contain plentiful amounts of protein to keep your blood sugar steady—a critical factor in losing weight—they also contain high amounts of fiber that keep you full longer than other foods. That means you’re less likely to crave unhealthy foods or eat as much as you would without beans in your diet. The research found that when people simply add beans to their diet even without other dietary changes, the weight still melts off. I’m no Houdini but that sounds like magic to me.


Good news for berry lovers! While many diet programs discourage eating berries and other fruit because of their natural sugars, berries contain potent metabolism-boosting phytonutrients. Raspberries, in particular, are among the best foods you can eat to lose weight. That’s because these delicious berries contain a natural compound called rheosmin (also sometimes referred to as raspberry ketones) that give even the most sluggish metabolism a good boost  to jump start weight loss.


Research in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease showed that cinnamon improved all markers of the condition known as metabolic syndrome, which is often a factor in those who are overweight or obese. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms that include: excessive abdominal fat, high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is often a precursor to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Top your morning oats with some cinnamon, add to your favorite Moroccan stew or curry or sprinkle cinnamon over your daily latte (avoid the sweetened or sugar-free options that include sucralose or aspartame).


These hot and spicy foods are well-known to lessen the risk of excess insulin in the body. That’s because they speed up metabolism while lowering high blood glucose (sugar) levels, before the excess insulin can result in fat stores.  Turn up the heat on your meals to turn on the fat burn.


A growing body of research shows that adding probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt or vegan yogurt, or naturally-fermented pickles to your diet results in weight loss, the loss of back fat and lowered levels of insulin, triglycerides and other obesity indicators. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, scientists found that certain probiotics lowered the levels of the various obesity indicators while reducing overall weight, with a particular emphasis on back fat loss. Be sure to choose foods with live cultures that have not been pasteurized.


Flax seeds and oil work on multiple levels to improve fat burning in your body: 1) the fiber binds to and eliminates toxins known as xenoestrogens which wreak havoc on hormones and can result in weight gain; 2) they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation that is linked to weight gain. Top your oats with a sprinkle of flax seeds, add flax seeds and flax oil to your smoothies, and add flax seed oil to your salads or over a bowl of organic popcorn.


If weight loss had a color, surely it would be green. That’s because leafy greens are power-packed with nutrients that help maintain a healthy metabolism. Whether you add spring mix, spinach, kale, mustard greens or another type of leafy vegetable to your diet, they are all excellent sources of vitamins and antioxidants that alleviate inflammation, which has been linked to weight gain and obesity.


If you want to burn fat you really should go nuts on the foods bearing the same name. That’s because raw, unsalted nuts are powerhouses of beneficial fats and protein. In a study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, researchers found that the simple addition of 50 grams of almonds daily yielded significant weight loss among the obese women who participated in the study compared to those who did not eat the almonds. The researchers also found that the almond eaters had reductions in waist size, total body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels—all of which are markers for improved metabolism. Choose raw, unsalted nuts that are kept in the refrigerator section of your local health food store since the oils in nuts tend to go rancid quickly. The study dose was a little more than 1/3 cup or 1.7 ounces of almonds.


Research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who ate oatmeal on a daily basis stayed full longer, ingested fewer calories daily and were more likely to stick to a lower-calorie weight loss regime. They attributed the benefits to the oats’ beta glucan content. Beta glucan is a unique type of fiber found in oats and barley. For best results avoid sugar-sweetened oats. Simply stir in a small amount of stevia to sweeten and top with your favorite fruit for best results.


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