Studies back this up: Researchers from Harvard, Case Western Reserve, and Brown Universities examined the eating habits of more than 7,000 adults over three years and found that people who ate low- or non-fat dairy products at least twice a day were 37 percent less likely to become obese, compared to those who only ate them less than or equal to once a month. High levels of calcium in milk and yogurt help regulate fat metabolism, and increase the amount of fat released. Previous studies have also established a link between high dairy consumption and weight loss, specifically belly fat.
Skinny people eat high-fiber oatmeal or homemade granola in the morning, knowing it will kickstart their metabolism and keep them full until lunch. One study found that people who ate fewer than six grams of dietary fiber a day gained eight pounds more than those who consumed at least 11 grams, over a 10-year period. (A bowl of oatmeal topped with one small banana and a handful of sliced almonds provides about 11 grams of dietary fiber.) Other studies have found that overweight people who include oat-based foods into their diet tend to lose more weight than those who don’t, largely because oats help quell food cravings.
If you think avocado is too “fatty” to be a weight-loss food, a study published in Nutrition Journal found that people who ate half an avocado at lunch reported feeling full longer and had less desire to eat more afterward, compared to those who skipped out on the fruit. The healthy monounsaturated fats help keep blood sugar levels stable, which is key to fighting hunger.
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Scientists from Purdue University found that people who added cayenne red pepper to meals reported fewer cravings for fatty, salty, and sweet foods. Other studies have shown that the capsaicin in chili peppers boosts metabolism.
Instead of coffee or soda, skinny people steadily sip green tea. One Japanese study found that people who drank the equivalent of five cups of green tea a day lost significantly more weight, especially belly fat, than those who only drank about one cup, thanks to the high level of catechins. These compounds are thought to increase the amount of energy your body uses, helping you lose excess body fat.
When skinny people feel like snacking, they munch on a handful of nuts. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that regular nut eaters were more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts. High in protein and fiber, nuts fill you up and ward off hunger. Try almonds, pistachios, or peanuts, which are among the lowest in calories and fat.
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