Dr. George Redmon
This article is from American Fitness magazine. Click on magazine to the right to subscribe.
The Positive Attraction to Negative Calorie Foods
Make Your Metabolism Work For You
Sixty million people in the United States are considered overweight and nearly half of all American women and a quarter of American men are on some sort of diet. Data shows the number of people classified as obese outnumber those of normal weight. This silent epidemic has spiraled out of control as evidenced by the increase in obesity-related deaths, illnesses and chronic degenerative maladies associated with obesity.
Instead of dieting, though, we could fair much better with a healthy eating plan.
Diets Just Don’t Work
Many researchers today insist that dieting in the traditional sense is not the answer to the nation’s obesity problem. According to Neal Barnard, M.D., author of Foods That Cause You To Lose Weight: The Negative Calorie Effect (Magni, Co., 1998), our approach to maintaining healthy weight levels has been misdirected. Barnard says we must move beyond the old mode of counting calories.
New research continues to mount showing that the key to weight control is not how much you eat, but the kinds of foods you consume.
The problem with conventional yo-yo dieting is that the body goes into survival mode when it perceives the threat of starvation. The metabolic rate may remain depressed for up to a year.
The other insidious aspect of dieting if the fact that at some point you will go off of it, according to Dr. Robert E. Kowalski, author of The 8 Week Cholesterol Cure (Harper Torch, 2002). When that happens, the lost weight quickly returns.
Dr. Lawrence E. Lamb, author of Metabolics: Putting Your Food Energy to Work (Harper & Row, 1974) reminds us that the real key to permanent weight loss has to do with your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR calculates the energy needed to maintain life’s processes, which is normally the largest part of your daily energy or calorie expenditure. The body’s efficiency in converting calories consumed into energy while you are awake, but not engaged in any aerobic or strenuous activity, is paramount to maintaining a normal weight.
Don’t Starve Yourself into Obesity
Dieting causes the body to conserve calories and store them, rather than burn them. In other words, dieting greatly inhibits your ability to burn body fat. One of the quickest and most detrimental ways to slow down your metabolic rate is by going on a restricted calorie or starvation diet. Scientists have confirmed that two of the best ways to stoke or jump-start this innate fat-burning mechanism is via exercise and eating plenty of healthy food.
Eating frequent meals keeps those metabolic fires working overtime. However, it is important to know which foods help increase thermogenic (fat-burning) activity and which foods slow it down. For example, consume foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, flaxseed oil, salmon, soy products, leans cuts of meats and whole grain breads. Slowly eliminate and avoid white bread, potato chips, organ meats, alcohol and processed or refined foods.
By methodically rotating many of these thermogenic (negative calorie) foods into your daily regimen and eliminating less nutritious foods, you can increase you BMR safely and effectively.
The Positive Results of Negative Calorie Foods
Your favorite dessert may contain 400 calories, but only 150 calories are used to digest it. That results in a net gain of 250 excess calories that your body doesn’t need. These calories will be stored as body fat. On the other hand, a five-calorie stalk of celery that may require the same 150 calories of energy to break down will result in a deficit of 145 calories. These calories will be taken from the body’s stored energy (fat) to assist in carrying out digestive and metabolic activities.
Many negative calorie foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals that promote enzyme production. This is vital in your effort to lose weight or maintain normal weight levels. The production of enzymes not only uses calories from the source food, enzymes themselves also use up additional calories as they go about their work at the cellular level.
Your Innate Ability
By nature you are a fat-burning machine with the internal ability to convert energy from the food you consume into usable fuel that powers you. Scientists have found that by manipulating certain food combinations, you can shift your metabolism from the neutral position to overdrive. Your metabolism is the key to burning fat.
There are literally hundreds of different food combinations you can consume to assist in this natural thermogenic process, one of the most important components to losing or maintaining weight.
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New research continues to mount showing that the key to weight control is not how much you eat, but the kinds of foods you consume. The problem with conventional yo-yo dieting is that the body goes into survival mode when it perceives the threat of starvation. The metabolic rate may remain depressed for up to a year.
The following charts represent some of these foods.
The following list represents some of the more well-known and researched fat-burning foods. Replace those high-calorie and fatty snacks with these fruits and vegetables.
Honeydew melon Cabbage
Thermogenic Fruits and Vegetables
1. Apples: The old adage “An apple a day keep the doctor away” is very applicable. Apples are rich in the soluble fiber pectin which is well known for its cholesterol-lowering effect. Pectin retains cholesterol in the stomach, binds with it, and carries it through the digestive tract for elimination.
2. Brown Seaweed: Dr. Kazuo Miyashita at Hokkaido University in Japan found that fucoxanthin, a compound found in brown seaweed used in Asian cuisine, promotes fat burning in tests conducted on obese animals. Fucoxanthin appeared to increase the production of proteins responsible for boosting metabolism.
3. Grapefruit: Grapefruit has long been a staple in many nutritional programs aimed at fat and weight reduction. Current research conducted at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, Calif. found that participants eating half a grapefruit a day for 12 weeks lost an average of 3.6 pounds. These researchers found that grapefruit helps in lowering insulin levels. Insulin locks fat in the cells and block its release to be burned as fuel.
4. Pears: Researchers at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil found that overweight women on a low-calorie diet, who ate three pears or apples daily, lost more weight than overweight women on a low-calorie diet who hadn’t added fruit to their diet. This study also revealed a significantly greater decrease in blood glucose level.