These include monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids, found in oils, nuts, avocados, certain fish—and yes, even chocolate! Eat 3-4 servings daily.
More specific research has been done on walnuts, a good source of monounsaturated fats. An Australian study had participants follow a healthy low-fat diet, either with walnuts or without. Both groups ate the same number of calories and lost approximately the same amount of weight at 6 months. But during the next 6 months of the year long study, the walnut-eaters continued to lose weight and body fat, while the other group stopped losing—even though they were still following the same diet.
Aim for three servings of lean protein (such as fish, white meat chicken and turkey, pork loin chops, and lean beef sirloin) per day. In addition to being an essential nutrient, protein helps to keep you feeling full longer, which is a big benefit when you’re trying to lose weight. In a small 2009 study, participants who ate a higher-protein breakfast were more satiated afterward (and took in fewer calories at lunch) than those who ate a low-protein breakfast.
Studies from Stanford Prevention Research Center suggest that water helps promote weight loss in two ways. First, drinking more water—at least 4 cups per day—was linked to a 5-pound weight loss over the course of a year. According to the researchers, this amount of water increases the amount of energy or calories your body burns. Second, substituting water for sugary drinks—sodas, sports drinks, flavored drinks, and sweetened milks, coffees, and teas—resulted in even more weight loss. The exact number of pounds lost depended on how many sugary drinks were consumed in the first place, and how many were replaced with water.
Still don’t think you can give up your sodas and mochaccinos? Then consider this: It’s been shown that when people consume a certain amount of calories, they’re more hungry and more likely to overeat at their next meal when those calories are in liquid rather than in solid form. Translation: If you eat a 200-calorie snack, you’ll be more satisfied afterward and eat less later than if you drink a 200-calorie beverage. So frequently drinking calorie-dense beverages could increase both your hunger and your calorie intake throughout the day.
6. Green Tea
Sip at least 3 cups of green tea every day. Catechins, the antioxidants found in high amounts in green tea, have been shown to be helpful in promoting weight loss, specifically belly fat. If caffeine is a concern, decaf tea is an option. Some decaffeination processes, however, can lower the antioxidant content so you might want to have an extra cup or two.
In a study at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, participants who drank the equivalent of 3 cups of green tea a day lost twice as much weight as those not drinking tea. The tea-drinking group also lost significantly more belly fat than the non-tea drinkers.
If you like citrus, the news gets better. Replacing some of the tea brewing water with citrus juice, such as lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit, allows your body to use more of the tea’s catechins. You can drink your green tea freshly brewed for a warming hot drink, or chill it after brewing for a refreshing cold drink.