Written by Jamie Wykes Hobday
Fat loss is one of the most common trends in health and fitness today. People are constantly looking to shed excess weight for the beach, their wedding, photo shoot or just to make a change to their life. Yet, due to social media influencing; we are often tricked into thinking there is an easy way out. Magic pills, juice diets and six-pack belts are all presented to us via media and many believe that this is the way to achieve the ultimate fat loss. Whilst the mentioned may create results in the short run; they are not sustainable long term!
The key to success in health and fitness is finding something that you can perform over a long period of time. This means it has to be sustainable and something that you can incorporate into your day to day life. This can be as simple as three key steps; a caloric deficit, a progressive overload training program and incorporating thermogenic foods. I can already hear it now; ‘what was that last one?!’
Thermogenic foods speed up your metabolism; the rate at which your body burns fat. Whilst exercise and a caloric deficit should be the predominant forms of this process, thermogenic foods can aid. Below are five key thermogenic foods and their benefits.
Green tea enhances the fat burning process due to the fact it contains caffeine and catechins. Whilst caffeine will increase energy expenditure, stimulate the CNS and surprise appetite at times; the catechins will enhance fat burning due to the interactions they create with particular enzymes in the body.
Green Tea has been so highly thought of in the supplement industry that there are now ‘green tea extract’ supplements available. Whilst this may be due to the fact that green tea is not everyone’s preferred taste; you cannot escape the fact that it is so beneficial that people are now looking to consume it, however, possible. But why? Why is green tea so highly thought of?
✓ Central nervous system stimulation due to caffeine properties.
✓ Brain functionality.
✓ Inclusion of CLA (lowers cholesterol and also relates to muscle mass maintenance)
Studies have shown that low calorie, high fibre, low GI fruits such as blueberries are a fantastic source for fat loss. First off, let’s make it clear; blueberries are a fantastic food choice for fat loss as they have minimal calories and are high in fibre; meaning that you are receiving tremendous food satiety for minimal calories.
However, blueberries predominant claim to fame comes from their antioxidant role; which relates directly to the fat loss process. The antioxidants typically break down starch into simple sugars in fruits; however, as blueberries contain a relatively low level of sugar (45 calories and 9 grams of sugar per 100 grams), little to no sugar is released into the blood. This is a major key in the fat burning process as sugar has been highly associated with obesity. Other benefits of blueberries include:
✓ High in vitamin C
✓ Minimise cholesterol levels
✓ Support digestion
Not only will adding spices to your food improve the taste, but it can also improve the rate at which your body furnaces fat. Substances such as chilli spices and pepper have been examined and proven to increase CNS stimulation and energy expenditure.
This increase in energy expenditure will be what creates fat loss, providing that the athlete is consuming less than this expenditure rate. Here are some added benefits of this spicy thermogenic:
✓ Low in calories
✓ Low in cholesterol
✓ Herb spices are low in sodium
Almond nuts and many other forms of nuts are beneficial to weight loss due to the fact that they stimulate your body’s insulin levels. Insulin is directly related to fat loss and if blood sugar is too high then the fat will be stored.
This is why snacking on proteins/fats during the day and saving carbohydrates and sugars till workouts are so advantageous; the sugars will be saved for the workout when they are available and used for energy, not fat storage. However, whilst almonds have been shown to be high in bodily satiety levels; they are also very calorically dense, so take this into consideration when trying to lose fat. Caloric intake monitoring should be and will always be number one on the priorities list.
✓ High in magnesium
✓ Nutrient and mineral absorption
✓ Skin health
Coconut oil contains MCT’s (Medium Chain Triglycerides) which have been related to preventing fat being stored in the body due to the role they play in fat burning and the thermogenic effect. Coconut oil can be used as an energy source which will, in turn, lead to increased calorie expenditure; leading to the thermogenic effect.
✓ Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
✓ Increase the amount of ‘good cholesterol’ in the body, otherwise known as HDL’s
✓ Can actually be used as a teeth whitener due to its high amounts of antibacterial!
Therefore; combining the foregone criteria with a caloric deficit and progressive training is the true requirements