“Trying to lose weight? Try green tea after each meal. It has so many benefits!”
“Have you tried honey with warm water and lemon? Works every time!”
People who have been trying their best to lose weight are well rehearsed with the above statements.
Aren’t they? Aren’t YOU?! I still remember those days when I used to lose a battle each day- a battle with myself. Losing weight can be difficult.
It may even seem impossible after some time when you see no changes when you stand on that weighing scale. And that figure that the weighing scale proudly announces haunts you. It gives you nightmares!
But, as the famous saying goes- “Miracles are just a millimeter away from the moment you decide to give up”.
Taunts from your friends or acquaintances should never bother you so much that you lose your confidence and self-esteem.
After all, we are here, with this article to put all your miseries to rest! Hooray!
To be very honest, the above-mentioned statements do hold some truth in them. There is something common between green tea, honey, and lemon.
It is antioxidants.
And antioxidants are the biggest help you can get if you are stuck on the same weight for a long time. They are the boost you need.
What are Antioxidants?
“Antioxidants”, as the name suggests, are substances which prevent the oxidation of other molecules.
These “other molecules” happen to be free radicals.
The free radicals are “free”, that is, they have unpaired electrons and they aim to balance themselves by obtaining electrons.
The source of these electrons can be the membranes of the cells in our body as well. Hence these radicals are capable of rendering significant damage to our body. Which, is basically what the antioxidants prevent.
Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals. They provide the electrons that are required by the free radicals. The free radicals can be reactive oxygen species (ROS) or even hydroxyl ions.
There are a number of antioxidants that are useful for the human body. For example, curcumin, lycopene, some phenolic compounds, flavanoids, and lutein. Vitamins also act as antioxidants, such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A.
How do antioxidants aid weight loss?
You must be wondering, how the free radicals enter our body? Is there a particular source? Free radicals are a result of the normal metabolism of the body.
Sometimes, they are released as a response from the immune system cells, or due to smoking, and also when there is the conversion of calories to energy.
When fat is broken down by the body, at that time as well, free radicals can be released.
Other sources of free radicals are processed foods, overcooked meats, and saturated fat. Fat cells also store toxins in them.
If the fat cells of your body are holding toxins in them, then the body would not allow breaking the fat down.
This is like a defense mechanism- as when the fat is broken down, there might be a surge of toxins in the body.
This explains a lot. This may be the reason you have been stuck on that weight since what seems like forever.
It also means that antioxidants help in getting rid of a lot of toxins. Toxins can also result in unexplained cravings and hunger pangs.
Including antioxidants in one’s diet is always a great idea. It adds that extra punch to make all that extra flab out of your body quicker.
Here is a list of foods that you can easily find at your nearest grocery store and include in your diet.
The health benefits of grapes are underestimated. Every 100 grams of grapes contains only 67 calories.
They contain water and fiber as well which can satiate food cravings for a long time.
They taste great and have the antioxidant known as “resveratrol”.
In a study, which lasted for a year, the subjects suffering from coronary artery disease were to consume grape extract containing resveratrol for a period of 6 months and double the dose for another 6 months.
This had an anti-inflammatory effect on their body and the levels of serum adiponectin (a protein involved in the regulation of glucose and fatty acids) were increased.
Hence it helped in the breakdown of fat and was a very good option for reduction of the risk of heart disease.
Besides that, resveratrol also prevented the formation of lipids in the mature fat cells.
It can be used in combination with other dietary supplements, for example, vitamin D and it can prevent bone loss.
It also inhibited the formation of adipocytes (fat cells).
A study published in “Metabolic syndrome and related disorders” in 2014 reported that when patients suffering from the metabolic syndrome were administered resveratrol, it regulated the insulin secretion, reduced BMI, weight, waist circumference as well as fat mass.
What does this mean?
Grapes have the antioxidant known as “resveratol”. It helps in the breakdown of fat and prevention of heart diseases.
Here comes the ultimate food upon which anyone can nibble on, especially in situations where you feel hungry in-between meals.
Nuts are full of healthy fats ( such as omega-3s), proteins, fiber and surprisingly low on carbohydrates. Out of all the kinds of nuts one can consume, the highest antioxidant content is present in walnuts and pistachios.
Walnuts are very healthy for the heart as they contain polyunsaturated fats. They also help in lowering cholesterol levels. They can be key contributors to low-fat diets.
The walnuts contain various compounds.
The most powerful of all happens to be Ellagic acid. It helps the body fight against cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, bone loss as well as the formation of cancer.
It also contains catechin which is another antioxidant and has cardioprotective effects.
Pistachios are a very healthy snack as well. Each pistachio consists of only 4 calories.
If you can mix a few types of nuts together and put them in a bowl right next to your bed and munch on!
They help in the lowering of triglyceride levels and also the body mass index.
They can be used for the management of weight. They also lower the LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels).
The antioxidants present in pistachios help in lowering the blood sugar levels as well as the serum oxidized-LDL.
A study published in “Journal of the American College of Nutrition”, 2010 reported that when pistachios were incorporated into the diets of obese subjects for a period of 12 weeks, there was a lowering observed in the levels of triglycerides as well as in the body mass index.
What does this mean? Walnuts and pistachios, both contain antioxidants such as ellagic acid and catechin which prevent inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and also lower the levels of cholesterol.
This green vegetable has been avoided by many of us as kids.
That happened probably because we did not really like the appearance of the vegetable, and some of us were not very impressed with how it tasted.
However, when grilled, or even baked, broccoli tastes great- almost like cauliflower! It looks beautiful in salads. It has large amounts of vitamins K and C.
One cup of broccoli only has a total of 30 calories. However, if cooked, it may amount to a total of 54 calories.
It is full of dietary fiber as well, to help you fill your tummy up and helps you avoid taking up junk foods to put your hunger to rest.
Broccoli consists of the antioxidant called sulforaphane.
It has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body as it reduces the presence of certain substances in our body such as “cytokines” which are involved in inflammation.
This property can also help patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
The antioxidant kaempferol has various benefits varying from anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer as well as anti-allergic activities.
It also prevents the risk of the occurrence of various cardiovascular diseases.
Obesity and a high BMI can have patients suffering from hypertension. However, the antioxidant known as quercetin helps in the lowering of blood pressure.
What does this mean? Broccoli contains antioxidants such as kaempferol and sulforaphane which prevent inflammation and reduce BMI as well as blood pressure.
Do you still shiver when the words “green leafy vegetable” are spoken by your mother? I certainly used to, when I was a kid.
However, after watching a number of episodes of “Popeye- The Sailor Man”, I began to believe in the true benefits of this vegetable.
It is delicious and versatile. It can be used in any given dish- be it curies, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, omelets- name it! 1 cup of raw spinach only consists of 7 calories! How could you beat that!
It is enriched with dietary fiber and antioxidants. It is a boon when it comes to weight loss.
The antioxidants present in spinach include kaempferol that has an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effect.
Apart from that, quercetin is another antioxidant present in spinach that can eliminate free radicals such as the hydroxyl and peroxynitrite radicals.
It also protects the body from pulmonary and cardiac disorders.
For those suffering from cholesterol and high-fat diet induced oxidative stress, spinach can be a good option.
What does this mean? Spinach consists of antioxidants such as kaempferol and quercetin which prevent risks associated with high oxidative stress due to obesity and high cholesterol.
Carrots, being the beautifully coloured vegetables, can be eaten raw or cooked- they would anyway taste great. They can be used in salads, sandwiches, and fruits.
People can munch on even mini raw carrots!
A cup of sticks of raw carrot contains just 50 calories! They are a very good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. For a fancy recipe, add cinnamon and carrots on top of oatmeal while it cooks to give it a taste of that like a carrot cake.
The antioxidants present in carrots include Anthocyanins, usually found in dark coloured carrots whereas chlorogenic acid can also be found in most carrots.
Lycopene has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects whereas “lutein” is useful for the health of eyes and reduction of oxidative stress.
What does this mean? Carrots contain anthocyanins, chlorogenic acid, lycopene and lutein to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation present in the body.
6. Green tea
Green tea is not just hot flavoured water.
It consists of so many bioactive substances, the most powerful one being caffeine. Caffeine aids in weight loss as it promotes the oxidation of lipids.
It also contains antioxidants called “catechins”.
These substances have a positive effect on the circulatory system of our body (the vascular system) which includes the veins, arteries, and most importantly, the heart.
They work specifically on oxidative DNA damage as well as oxidative stress.
They exert this effect because of their action on enzymes as well as proteins known as “transcription factors” in our body (which convert DNA to RNA).
It was also reported in a study that the fat burning rate was elevated by 17% when green tea was ingested before a moderate physical exercise was performed.
What does this mean? Catechins, antioxidants present in green tea prevent DNA damage caused due to oxidative stress and impose healthy effects on the cardiovascular system of the body.
Coffee is also a good source of antioxidants, for example, “chlorogenic acid”. It also consists of caffeine, in slightly higher amounts as compared to tea.
Chlorogenic acid is known to have tremendous effects on weight loss.
Green coffee consists of a big amount of chlorogenic acid in it which is available to be metabolized and absorbed by the human body.
When these coffee beans are roasted, however, the amount of chlorogenic acid available is diminished.
Upon the consumption of about a 100mg of caffeine, at a 2-hour interval for a 12h day period, it was observed that the resting metabolic rate increased and so did the heat produced in the body (as a result of burning of fat).
This effect was observed by obese as well as lean human subjects.
Studies also showed that the consumption of caffeine triggered the breakdown of fats to release free fatty acids. It also reduces body weight and body fat mass.
Though roasted coffee has a darker colour, maximum antioxidant properties were found to be present in medium-roasted coffee.
What does this mean? Chlorogenic acid is the main active antioxidant present in coffee that has fat burning properties. It is found in maximum amounts in moderately-roasted coffee.
Honey has been used as a medicine and also as food since Ancient times.
It has a number of health benefits, and that definitely includes the ones in weight loss and, inflammation and antioxidant properties.
The antioxidants present in honey include flavonoids, some enzymes such as catalase and glucose oxidase and phenols. Polyphenols in the honey prevent against the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Flavonoids present in the honey have vasorelaxant properties.
It is said to have protective effects on the liver and pancreas. It can help in the chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress.
It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-microbial effects.
What does this mean? Honey contains polyphenols and flavonoids which have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and vasorelaxant properties.
This food has abundant protein as well as a boost of vitamin D.
It is one of the healthiest foods known to mankind and possesses healthy fats such as the omega-3 fats which aid in weight loss.
These include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The fish tuna consists of an antioxidant, called “selenoneine”.
This binds to blood proteins and prevents them from oxidation, which occurs due to iron.
This can prevent the onset of many chronic diseases, the formation of free radicals as well as ageing.
What does this mean? Fish have healthy fats present in them that promote weight loss and the antioxidant selenoneine that prevents proteins in the blood from oxidation.
10. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is made up of cocoa, as we all are aware of.
It hence contains antioxidants known as “polyphenols” and they are known to regulate the substances in the body which lead to inflammation and also “atherosclerosis”, which is a condition where there is a gradual build-up of plaque or fat and cholesterol on the walls of the arteries.
These can lead to events as serious as a heart attack. Hence polyphenols have the “heart-protective” effect.
Another factor that plays a role in inflammation during obesity is the adhesion of the cells of the immune system (leukocytes) to the tissues and cells of the body.
In a study where obese men were to consume chocolate high in flavanols (antioxidants) for a period of 4 weeks, showed improved vascular function as well as a lower rate of adhesion of the leukocytes.
When dark chocolate was incorporated into the diets of normal weight obese women for a period of 7 days.
This resulted in an increase in the “good cholesterol” levels, that is, in the HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and a decrease in the waist circumference, and the total cholesterol/ HDL cholesterol ratio.
Proteins that are present at the time of inflammation were also reduced.
What does this mean? Dark chocolate contains flavanols as antioxidants that prevent inflammation associated with obesity.
Turmeric is the spice that everyone is familiar with.
It is used in a variety of curries. Not only does it impart a beautiful colour, it also provides a distinct taste.
The antioxidant properties of turmeric are because of the compound “curcumin”.
Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties. It also has anti-proliferative effects on tumors. It also finds use against diseases such as atherosclerosis.
It also has the ability to scavenge free radicals in order to prevent the peroxidation of the lipids present in the membranes of our body.
However, one limitation of curcumin happens to be that it is poorly absorbed by our body.
However, one compound that increases its absorbance by 2000% is “piperine”, found in peppercorns. No adverse effects have been noted.
In a study, overweight individuals suffering from metabolic syndrome were administered with curcumin.
They experienced an increase in fat loss, waist circumference, reduction of weight as well as BMI.
What does this mean? Turmeric has the antioxidant “curcumin” that has anti-tumor effects and reduces atherosclerosis. It is best when used with piperine, another antioxidant found in peppercorns.
After going through a list of so many foods, that aid in weight loss and also are full of antioxidants to help your body with, I am sure you have enough materials to plan out your diet chart and beat the weighing scale!