There’s that old adage that abs are made in the kitchen. Daily workouts and high reps of ab exercises are great; however, they can only get you so far. That goes double as we age and menopause throws our hormones out of balance.
The key to unlocking a flat stomach actually lays primarily in the foods we eat. You can do a thousand sit ups a day, but if you’re eating only carb heavy foods full of grease and oil (hamburgers, we’re looking at you) then all of that hard work amounts to probably nothing but a very sore tummy.
Food has the power to work magic on our bodies, healing them from within. Some foods have even been shown to boost our metabolism naturally, increasing the number of calories we burn even when we’re idle. These foods are referred to as thermic due to the amount of heat (or energy) our body consumes in digesting and metabolising them.
These are the foods you can include in your diet today that will help you shed a little extra weight.
Protein rich foods require more energy from your body to digest than most other foods, particularly those high in fats and carbohydrates. This is because protein molecules are much more complex, requiring far more sustained energy, taking longer for the body to eventually break down. In any given study on the effectiveness of thermic foods, high protein foods always sit at the top.
On top of this, studies show that up to 20-30% of total calorie count of protein rich foods go back into the digestion of the food itself! If a hard-boiled egg on average is 155 calories, then we are left with a total of only 124 calories to burn.
Furthermore, protein will help us feel fuller for longer, leading to a reduced calorie intake overall.
As we are getting older, it’s so important to try adding a serving of protein to every meal. This could be fish, meat, eggs or a handful of nuts at lunchtime. Do your body good.
Your morning cup of coffee or tea may actually be helping you burn a few extra calories.
The caffeine found in a regular cup of coffee has some serious fat burning potential, encouraging a process called lipolysis which is essentially the breakdown of adipose or fat tissue for the purposes of energy consumption.
Caffeine has also been attributed to increasing your body’s temperature through thermogenesis, which can further help your body burn calories.
It’s important to keep things in moderation though. I certainly don’t recommend a coffee only diet for the purposes of fat loss. Keep it between 1-3 cups a day with a balanced diet for optimal results.
This one kind of makes sense purely by virtue of the nature of chili. They’re hot! There is a chemical in chili called capsaicin that has been attributed to an increase in metabolic rate and burned calories overall. For those that are a little averse to chili (and this absolutely is me) studies have shown the benefits of capsaicin apply to dosages as small as 9mg a day. If you’re up for it, why not add a little chili to your next meal?
As with chili, cayenne peppers are hot, and heat is what we are looking for. Consuming cayenne pepper raises your body temperature slightly, leading to an increase in calorie burning. Cayenne peppers have also been attributed as a natural metabolism booster. While the effects are only temporary, consuming cayenne with a meal can actually help you boost your metabolism while you digest that meal. This means a quicker conversion from food to energy, making it less likely your body will convert your food to stored fat.
As we age, and particularly during menopause, our bodies metabolism slows down naturally. If we can continue to practice metabolising boosting activities, even something as small as adding cayenne to our next dish, we will be doing our body’s a service.
Along with their many other nutritional benefits, especially for women over 50, green, leafy vegetables are naturally high in iron. The inclusion of iron in our diet is vital for proper growth and development, some hormone regulation which can be thrown out of whack due to menopause, and of course in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Maintaining iron levels helps our red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our body, assisting with healthy fat burning. If our bodies are low in iron, we can’t send the proper amounts of oxygen to our muscles, meaning we are unable to burn fat as effectively. Make sure you are getting plenty of spinach, kale, sliver beat, cabbage and lettuce.
As we age, our body’s natural tendency is to slow down. Our metabolism can be affected greatly by menopause, leading to an increase in weight gain. To combat this, we just need to be a little more vigilant and careful with what we choose to put in our bodies.
Food is magic, and you can take control of and shift the odds in your favour simply by adding some protein to your diet and cutting out some of the not so good stuff. These foods can increase our metabolism, even temporarily, to help us burn more calories. Along with a balanced diet and daily exercise, we can work towards getting rid of that stubborn fat.
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