If you don’t like the way your body looks, and you don’t feel as confident, happy, passionate and otherwise comfortable in your skin as you would like, apply the following nutritional tidbits to your diet. Start today, and with time, it will feel like a routine rather than a forced habit.
- Limit yourself to one cup of coffee a day. Coffee is a natural metabolism booster, which means that when you drink it black (skipping the sugar and cream) it can kickstart not only your energy level, but your fat-burning as well.
Start each and every morning with a cup of coffee, and if you need another warm beverage later on in the day, switch to green tea.
- Green tea. Green tea has the power to act as another metabolism booster. Studies have shown that drinking two cups of green tea a day (pure in its form, or a hybrid herbal tea) can work as a natural fat burner. This is one of the healthiest metabolism boosters you can drink – chock full of those good antioxidants you need to perform at your best.
Green tea also contains a higher amount of catechins than black and herbal tea. This antioxidant has been found to be a natural appetite suppressant. So when you are tempted to snack on high-calorie foods that will likely expand your waistline over time, try staving off your cravings with green tea, hot or iced!
- Enjoy dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth – and skip the cookies and cakes. Milk chocolate is full of cream and carb-rich additives, while dark chocolate offers potent antioxidants that will decrease blood clots and improve your heart health and metabolic rate.
Pair a small piece of dark chocolate with apple slices. Not only will an apple a day keep the doctor away, but fresh fruit with bittersweet chocolate offers a delicious combination of sweet and tart, which will keep your taste buds tantalized with each bite!
- Low-fat yogurt. Yogurt has been a trend in skinny foods for the past few years, and there’s no question as to why. Not only does yogurt have the right amount of calcium, potassium and protein to be a healthy breakfast or snack, but paired with your favorite berries, it can keep you fuller for much longer than filler foods like cereal or toast. Skip the flavored types, which are full of added sugar, and make your own parfait with fresh fruit and plain Greek yogurt.
- Artichokes and avocados. You should always fill up your diet on healthy, leafy greens, but don’t skip these essential light-green treats.
Artichokes are the perfect vegetable and are healthiest when steamed. They are rich in iron and magnesium, which make bones strong. Dip the leaves in a healthy salad dressing, or add artichoke hearts to pasta sauces, pizzas and casseroles.
Avocados are actually fruits, not vegetables, and their creaminess and light flavor make them good for a whole lot more than guacamole. Add slices to scrambled eggs, salads and sandwiches, or even mash them to use instead of bananas in baked goods.
They’re easy to have with any meal, and the rich monounsaturated fats are good for your heart. Did you know that avocados can fight gum disease and improve your eyesight too?
- Lean proteins paired with whole grains. Skip the holiday ham, and opt for lean chicken, turkey or reduced-fat beef for protein. Ham may taste sweet and juicy, but any store-bought ham is stuffed with sugar, nitrates and artificial ingredients.
Lean sources of protein-rich food like eggs, fish and chicken will keep you feeling fuller longer than high-calorie carb-rich foods. The protein will also work to repair muscle tissue, helping you retain the strength you have and grow lean muscle mass after a workout.
Try baked chicken, grilled tilapia, or a stir fry featuring lean ground beef. Serve with your favorite vegetables roasted in olive oil and low-sodium seasoning. For a more filling meal, pair with whole grains such as couscous, brown rice or quinoa – the perfect brain food for your busy day or evening.
- Additional sources of protein will keep your metabolism running! Protein is essential to burn fat, keep your brain churning through your work day, improve digestion and – thanks in part to hypocretin, a protein neurotransmitter – even boost happiness. Here are some additional sources of protein to include in your daily diet:
- Your favorite nut butter. Add a spoonful of peanut, almond or cashew butter to a slice of apple or celery, or spread it on a piece of toast. Sunflower seed butter is a good option for anyone with nut allergies.
- An ounce of cheese. Although it’s a protein-rich food, cheese is also calorie-dense and can contain a high amount of fat. A little bit (a cube or two) of your favorite cheese can go a long way toward boosting protein intake without increasing your waistline.
- Chicken or fish? A 3-ounce piece of lean chicken breast contains 26 grams of protein – the perfect meal alongside a cup of your favorite steamed vegetables. A 3-ounce serving of canned tuna (packed in water, not oil) is 26 grams of protein as well.
A little lean meat is the perfect light lunch on a workday because the iron will keep you alert and focused. If you opt for a carb-heavy meal mid-day, expect a dip in your energy level almost immediately.