EMBRACE WHOLE GRAINS
We all know that refined carbs are the source of all evil. But whole grains, which contain complex carbohydrates, can support weight loss efforts and protect heart health, among many other benefits. One study published in the journal Food & Nutrition found that participants who had a sandwich made with multigrain bread used 20% of the food’s calories for the needs of digestion, while the participants who ate a white-bread sandwich used only 10%, even though both sandwiches had the same amount of total calories!
Countless studies have shown that people who follow a weight loss program incorporating whole grains lose more fat than people who eat refined grains. One of the main reasons for this is that whole grains are much higher in fiber than refined grains, and dietary fiber is one of the crucial nutrients for enhancing satiety and reducing hunger.
TIP: For best weight-loss results, on top of increasing protein intake and replacing over-processed salty and sweet snacks with nuts, seeds and legumes, make whole grains, such as whole wheat, whole oats, whole-grain corn, wild rice, whole rye, whole-grain barley, buckwheat, millet and quinoa, a staple in your diet.
GO RAW & SOLID
As we’ve already mentioned, eating foods in their raw, unprocessed form requires extra work from the digestive system and actually decreases the amount of calories our bodies absorb from food. This is also supported by the study conducted by a group of scientists from Harvard which found that cooking increases the amount of calories we absorb from food. This is not surprising, knowing that cooked foods require less energy for digestion and therefore allow more calories to be available.
In addition, raw foods require more chewing, which spends additional energy and also triggers areas in the brain which signal satiety. Did you know that up to 20% of the daily calories consumed by the average American come from beverages? It’s no wonder we have an epidemic of obesity.
Furthermore, there is substantial evidence that consuming meals in liquid form results in higher rates of absorption than eating proper whole-food meals. One study published in the journal Obesity found that people who consumed liquid meals experienced stronger food cravings later in the day, compared to people who consumed the same number of calories in solid form. This is because the fiber found in solid meals slows the absorption of nutrients and thereby releases energy in a slow and steady manner, without causing spikes in blood sugar, while simultaneously reducing the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
TIP: We’re not suggesting that you should go into the extreme and become a raw vegan, of course. But you could benefit greatly from eating more foods in their raw, solid form. Replace calorie-loaded sweet drinks and sodas with teas and water, and eat a big colorful salad instead of drinking a veggie smoothie. In addition, always have some nuts and seeds in your bag to snack on whenever hunger cravings appear. You can easily cut down on calories while achieving longer-lasting satiety by tossing a handful of chopped almonds and sunflower seeds into your morning oatmeal and including a raw salad at every lunch and dinner meal.
As it usually is the case with dieting, being mindful of what you eat can be much more important than simply reducing the number of total daily calories you consume. The interaction between food and our digestive tract is a fairly complex one, so no dieter should assume that by putting all calories in the same basket and making dramatic cuts they will succeed at melting away all their extra fat. Not only that this is a less effective approach compared to making smarter food choices, but this strategy could easily backfire and lead to overeating and regaining the lost pounds.
The best advice that dieting science has to offer is: forget about calorie counting. Instead, similarly to what you do when you’re training your muscles, provide your gut with a harder workout by opting for solid foods which have a high thermic effect, are in raw form that requires more chewing and extra work from the digestive system. As far as we’re concerned, that might well be the entire secret to effective and sustainable weight loss. Good luck!