Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
1. Up your fiber.
Without a doubt, fiber tops the list for setting your digestive system free of toxins and waste (which could be slowing your fat loss progress) but it also earns a starring role when it comes to satiating your hunger. Experts at the Mayo Clinic report that high-fiber foods require more chewing time, giving your body more time to register when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat.
Also, fiber-dense foods (like broccoli, kale, spinach and whole wheat flour) make meals feel larger in your stomach, so they keep you full for a longer period of time. Fiber found in vegetables, fruits and whole grains could be your best defense against packing on winter pounds. Try cooked kale topped with smoked turkey breast for added flavor. For every cup of kale (130 grams) you’re getting three grams of fiber; that’s about 10 percent of your recommended daily intake. Bring on the green!
2. Turning up the heat on fat loss.
Instead of “pass the butter” how about “pass the garlic, cocoa, spearmint, horseradish or cinnamon!” In a recent study from the Endocrine Society, “tastants” (the fat-fighting substance in spices) have been shown to help make you feel fuller by stimulating your taste buds and sense of smell.
Researchers say that tastants can reduce excessive hunger, which can make sticking to clean eating a lot easier in the long run. One of the most widely used fat-burning spices is pepper. The main ingredient in peppercorns is piperine, which has strong anti-inflammatory qualities, ramps up metabolism, helps promote digestion and stimulates your body to produce more heat, which breaks down fat cells. Adding it to your eat-clean dishes won’t just earn you some added flavor; it’ll get your fat loss fired up too.
3. Stress less, lose fat.
The winter months can take a toll on your mood. Snow, freezing temperatures and a lack of a vitamin D infusion from the sun can leave you stressed and your waistline in trouble. Cortisol (the body’s “stress hormone”) is rapidly produced in the body when stress hits. This imbalance throws off blood sugar levels, metabolism and mental well-being. Studies also link cravings to the production of cortisol, which is why you might feel the need to reach for some Ben & Jerry’s in times of distress.
According to a study out of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, people who are less stressed experience greater fat loss and are able to keep weight off over time. That’s enough to give the phrase “chill out” a whole new meaning this winter. To keep stress in check as you wait for spring to arrive, try enrolling in a weekly yoga or mediation class, lap off stress at an indoor pool or make a cardio-date with a friend for an extra session on the treadmill.