Secret fat-burner: Protein
Protein helps with weight loss in a number of ways. (Use these tricks to eat more healthy protein without even trying.) First, your body uses more energy—think calories—to break down protein foods than it does to break down other foods. Protein also helps you hang onto muscle mass as you’re losing weight, and since muscle burns more calories than fat, you want to keep as much of it as you can. Finally, protein dampens hunger better than carbohydrates do, says Donald K. Layman, PhD, the Journal of Nutrition study’s lead researcher, adding that decreasing carbohydrates also helped the protein group lose weight.
Walnuts and almonds
Secret fat-burner: Good fats
Plenty of studies point to nuts—aka the best disease fighter in your pantry—as one of the fat-burning foods you should add to your diet (as long as you don’t go overboard). Chalk it up to their fiber, their protein, and their good fat, which may increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, aiding weight loss. Walnuts are one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds provide an extra benefit in the form of bone-building calcium. (Check out more non-dairy sources of calcium that give you the nutrients you need.)
Secret fat-burner: Omega-3’s
Eating fat might sound like a crazy idea when you’re trying to lose fat, but getting more omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon could be just what the diet doctor ordered, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. “Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, omega-3 fatty acids reduce fat mass,” says Irene Munro, study author and researcher from the University of Newcastle in Newcastle, Australia. In addition to adding years to your life, other studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids make you feel less hungry and more satisfied up to two hours after eating a fatty fish meal. Aim to eat salmon or another oily fish, like mackerel, herring, or canned tuna, at least twice a week. If that doesn’t sound appealing, substitute the fish for other fat-burning foods that are rich in omega-3s.