A few years ago, I did everything right as I was told: ate the right amount of calories for my activity level, exercised regularly (ran, biked, and pilates), focused on healthy foods, including dairy and lean protein, and still could not shed those last 5-10 pounds. It was a standstill. Only when I switched to a mostly plant-oriented meal plan, with about 70% vegetables, and the rest quinoa, rice, nuts, and fruits, did those pounds effortlessly fall off me. When I read this study this morning it starts to make all more sense:
From 7 Best Supplements for Weight Loss:
How? It all comes down to eating the right combination of foods--foods that will shift your body out of fat-storage mode and into fat-melting mode. Specific vitamins and nutrients can actually help to flip an internal switch that signals cells throughout your body to burn more calories, wasting many of those calories as heat. Without these important nutrients, the opposite happens. Your body holds onto fat. Your metabolism slows and your weight-loss efforts become an exercise in futility. (source) Vitamin D
”How It Melts Fat: Study after study shows that vitamin D helps to ensure body cells listen and respond to insulin, a hormone secreted from your pancreas. One of its jobs is to help glucose get into body cells, which burn glucose for energy. How well insulin pushes glucose into cells is called "insulin sensitivity." The more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the better. The less sensitive they are to insulin, the more likely the calories you eat will end up in your fat cells.
When levels of D are low, levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) rise. Higher than normal levels of PTH trigger a series of reactions that eventually lead to fat cells converting sugar into fat and hoarding fat rather than releasing it to be burned, explains Michael B. Zemel, PhD, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A lack of vitamin D may also interfere with leptin, a hormone that signals your brain to stop eating. Your body doesn't know when it's full, so you continue to eat.”
Makes sense, right? In the summer it is often easier to stay in shape with all the sunshine, but in the winter the pounds come on, and not just because of the christmas cookies. For bone health alone living in the Northeast, I am using a high Vitamin D supplement.
”How It Melts Fat: Calcium is a mineral that works in tandem with D to help you shed fat. Calcium is stored in fat cells, and researchers think that the more calcium a fat cell has, the more fat that cell will release to be burned. Calcium also promotes weight loss by binding to fat in your GI tract, preventing some of it from getting absorbed into your bloodstream.”
Years ago, I felt a lack of energy and started taking calcium-magnesium supplements which not only boosted my energy levels, but also help to keep my weight in check. Now, of course, I eat kale galore and drink calcium-enriched almond milk because calcium is harder to come by if you are eating vegan.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
”How They Melt Fat: omega-3s enable weight loss by switching on enzymes that trigger fat-burning in cells. They also help to boost mood, which may help reduce emotional eating. And omega 3s might improve leptin signaling in the brain, causing the brain to turn up fat burning and turn down appetite. Fatty fish like salmon (which are also high in vitamin D) are one of the richest sources of this fat. Other foods, such as some nuts and seeds, contain a type of fat that can be converted into omega-3s after ingestion.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs)
How They Melt Fat: One Danish study of 26 men and women found that a diet that included 20 percent of its calories from MUFAs, a type of fat found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, peanut butter, and chocolate, improved 24-hour calorie burning by 0.1 percent and fat burning by 0.04 percent after 6 months. Other research shows that MUFAs zero in on belly fat. Specific foods that are high in MUFAs--especially peanuts, tree nuts, and olive oil--have been shown to keep blood sugar steady and reduce appetite, too.”
I do eat large amounts of chocolate, almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts, and they just seem to give me energy, not gained swim floating devices.
”How They Melt Fat: Polyphenols are the antioxidants that give green tea its health-and metabolism-boosting punch. Research shows they boost resting metabolic rate by up to a whopping 17 percent, helping the body to burn more fat. One recent study done on rats found that EGCG, the polyphenol in green tea, blocked weight gain and prevented metabolic syndrome when rats were fed a high-fat diet. You can actually feel this effect after you drink the tea. Your body will literally heat up as your cells waste calories as heat. Green tea is a great winter elixir for that reason. Drink a cup whenever you feel chilled and are tempted to eat even though you are not really that hungry. The tea will warm and soothe you, reducing hunger and cravings.”
A few weeks ago I facetimed my friend and she brewed herself a big pot of tea. “I am drinking tea now. I have never seen a fat Chinese man, and they drink tea all the time. So, that’s what I am doing now.” I guess she is on to something….