Olive oil: even its smell helps you lose weight
Olive oil contains more healthy monounsaturated fat than almost any other common oil or food. Studies have found that consuming olive oil instead of foods high in saturated fat significantly increases the amount of energy your body uses at rest, so you’ll burn more calories even while sitting or sleeping. A German study discovered that even the scent of olive oil helps people feel fuller and instinctively eat fewer calories. Study participants whose yogurt contained a grassy scent extract from olive oil ate fewer calories and had better blood-sugar levels after the meal than those whose yogurt was mixed with canola oil, butter, or lard.
The foregoing is adapted from The Greek Diet by Maria Loi & Sarah Toland. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.
Greek yogurt: the right bacteria to burn fat
Greek yogurt can curb hunger, increase feelings of fullness, stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, and prevent overeating, thanks to the fact that it has significantly more protein per ounce than almost any other ready-to-eat food. Your body burns more calories metabolizing and digesting protein than it does carbohydrates. While other foods contain probiotics (good-for-your-gut bacteria), yogurt is the most palatable way to get the daily dose needed to keep your microbiota in a fat-burning zone. Studies have shown that if you don’t have the right germs in your body, you’ll have a hard time losing weight, no matter how little you eat or how much you exercise.
Vegetables: energy to avoid junk food
If you’re even moderately low in micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals—you will not lose weight. Research suggests that when we’re fatigued, we’re more likely to give into junk food, but the micronutrients in vegetables rev your metabolism and fuel your body with energy. Vegetables average around 90 percent water, helping prevent even the mildest form of dehydration, which can thwart your metabolism and body’s fat-burning ability. Water also increases the volume of a food without adding calories, keeping you feeling full longer. Water’s filling effect is even more pronounced when combined with the insoluble fiber in vegetables, which adds bulk and helps speed the digestive process.
Beans: both fiber types needed to lose weight
You need both soluble and insoluble fiber to lose weight, and no other single food has more of both of these types than beans. Soluble fiber dissolves with liquids in your stomach to form a viscous gel. This gel expands, making you feel fuller while holding onto the foods in your stomach longer. Insoluble fiber absorbs water, adding bulk to your digestive system and working with soluble fiber to make you feel more full.
Seafood: increases fat-burning metabolism
Ninety-nine percent of Americans don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to metabolism, blood-sugar sensitivity, and every other factor that affects our bodies’ ability to burn fat. Fatty fish have more omega-3s than leaner fish such as tuna, but seafood contains more EPA/DHA omega-3s—the types of the fatty acid with the most health benefits—than any other food. Eating fish and shellfish at least twice a week could increase your metabolism by as much as 400 calories a day, according to a University of Western Ontario study, and prevent your fat cells from expanding, especially around your abdominal area.
More Ways to Eat Like a Greek
Using 12 pillars of traditional Greek cooking, The Greek Diet includes 100 healthy and delicious recipes that can help you lose weight while you eat decadent foods you love. Learn more about the book and eating plan here.