Will a “Hormone Diet” Help You Lose Weight?

Will a “Hormone Diet” Help You Lose Weight?

Will a hormone diet help you loose weight? New diets and fitness fads are constantly popping up. Most of them promise easy weight loss and long-lasting health benefits. However, the science doesn’t always back up the claims, and it’s hard to know which weight loss strategies will provide real results.

One diet that has been popular in recent years is the hormone diet. There are a few different versions of this eating plan floating around, although they all promise to help you rebalance hormones in order to lose weight and achieve better health. The people who sell these diets claim they work. But what does science say?

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that are made by organs called glands. Their job is to act as a messenger between different organs or different body parts. For example, the gland in one part of the body may send out signals that affect how cells in a different area behave. Hormones affect many processes, such as metabolism, mood, and reproduction.

Some examples of hormones are:

Growth hormone: This hormone is made by the pituitary gland, found in the brain. Growth hormone helps children grow and develop. It also necessary in people of all ages for functions like breaking down and storing fats, making proteins, and keeping brains and bones working properly.
Cortisol: The adrenal glands make cortisol when you’re feeling stressed out. It helps control inflammation, blood pressure, sleep, mood, and metabolism.
Insulin: Insulin, made by the pancreas, is also linked to metabolism. It helps cells absorb sugar from the blood to use for energy.
Thyroid hormones: The thyroid, located in the front of the neck, makes hormones called T3 and T4. These control metabolism and help the bones and heart work properly.
Reproductive hormones: Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone help the reproductive system develop and work properly and are important for healthy sexual function.
These and many other hormones affect the way the body breaks down food, stores it, and uses it as fuel. When hormone levels are too high or too low, they can cause someone to lose or gain pounds. This has led many people to study the connection between hormones and weight loss.

What is the Hormone Diet?

Hormone Diet
The first person to start promoting the hormone diet was Dr. Natasha Turner, a naturopathic doctor who published the book “The Hormone Diet” in 2009. This book claimed that following a particular eating plan and adopting certain lifestyle habits would change the levels of 16 different hormones in order to burn more fat. Dr. Turner has since published two more books that further explain how to optimize hormone levels. Since “The Hormone Diet” was published, many other people have begun promoting similar diets. Dozens of books have now been published that claim that eating or avoiding certain foods or applying other habits can put your hormone levels in balance.

What Do You Do on the Hormone Diet?

The original hormone diet lists three separate phases: Phase 1: The first part of the diet is detox. People avoid certain foods for two weeks, including gluten (found in certain grains and bread products), cow’s milk and dairy products, peanuts, alcohol, caffeine, corn, sugar, and certain citrus fruits such as grapefruit. Additionally, processed, man-made foods are off-limits. According to the diet, these foods can cause inflammation and make it hard for your digestive system to absorb the nutrients it needs. Instead, people are told to eat foods such as rice, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, and eggs. Dieters are also instructed to take supplements such as probiotics and fish oil. The hormone diet is supposed to help people lose 12 pounds during this first phase, in addition to lowering levels of hormones like estrogen and cortisol. Phase 2: After two weeks of detox, a person starts slowly adding some foods back into the diet. However, they are told to pay attention to how their bodies respond to these foods. For example, a person may notice that eating dairy products tends to give them a stomachache. People following the hormone diet are still told to stay away from processed foods and foods with preservatives during this time. Phase 3: At this point in the hormone diet, people continue the same eating plan but begin to exercise. They also add other healthy habits into their routines, such as getting good sleep and reducing stress, as these habits play a role in the levels of certain hormones.

Does the Hormone Diet Work?

Hormone Diet
The best way to know whether or not a diet works is for researchers to conduct a clinical trial. In this type of study, researchers divide participants into groups. One group would follow the diet, and other groups may follow different diets, or no diet at all. The researchers would then compare results between the different groups to see whether the diet actually made people lose weight, and whether it affected other factors such as hormone levels. This type of clinical trial has never been conducted for the hormone diet. This means that we don’t know for sure if this diet works better or worse than other weight loss strategies, or even if it works at all. However, we can look at other types of studies that have studied the link between weight loss and hormones. For example:

    • Multiple studies have found that when people lose weight through different methods, including eating fewer calories or getting weight loss surgery, they can normalize their levels of thyroid hormones.
    • When people lose weight, their insulin levels decrease and their bodies can use insulin more efficiently.
    • In one clinical trial, overweight women who had gone through menopause used diet, exercise, or both to lose weight. All of the women who lost weight, but especially those in the diet plus exercise group, also had a decrease in levels of estrogen and testosterone. However, it is imperative to note that the study participants had elevated hormone levels at the beginning of the study.
    • The bottom line: for the most part, we don’t yet know enough to be able to say which specific foods can raise or lower the levels of specific hormones. However, we do know that losing weight using a variety of strategies can help keep hormones at normal levels.

What’s Good About the Hormone Diet

    • Some parts of the hormone diet encourage habits that science has shown to be helpful for losing weight and gaining health. Some of these include:

      • Natural, whole foods: The hormone diet tells people to avoid processed, man-made products. These foods tend to have extra calories without providing much nutrition, so cutting them out of your diet is a good thing. Processed foods can make you overeat and gain weight and increase your risk of heart disease.
      • Good nutrition: The foods that people eat on the hormone diet are fairly similar to those eaten on the Mediterranean diet, which has been extensively studied. The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits, such as healthy aging, weight loss, and a lower risk of heart disease, brain disease, and some types of cancer.
      • Paying closer attention to what you eat: The diet encourages people to find out whether they are intolerant to certain foods by avoiding those products for a couple of weeks, and then trying them again. It’s possible that some people are intolerant to foods such as gluten and that avoiding these foods will help make people feel healthier.
      • Exercise: The hormone diet encourages people to get cardiovascular or aerobic exercise as well as strength training or weight lifting. Physical activity is essential for many aspects of health, including weight loss.
      • Stress management: Feeling stressed on a regular basis can lead people to gain weight, but learning how to better deal with stress through relaxation techniques and breathing exercises can help people lose pounds.
      • Getting enough sleepQuality sleep helps people burn more fat and stay at a healthy weight, making it an important weight loss tool.
    • These tools may or may not change your hormone levels in a predictable way, but they can help you lose weight. Following these parts of the hormone diet can help you lose pounds and reduce your risk of disease, even if you don’t follow the exact plan that the book recommends.

What’s Bad About the Hormone Diet

    • Unfortunately, there are some parts of the hormone diet that probably don’t work or could even be harmful. These include:

      • Fast weight loss: Sure, dropping pounds quickly sounds great, but it’s not very realistic. Often, it takes a while for the weight to come off. Additionally, losing weight quickly is not very healthy. While the hormone diet expects people to lose 12 pounds in the first two weeks, the CDC says that people who lose 1-2 pounds per week are more likely to keep the weight off in the long term.
      • Changing your hormone levels may be risky: Hormones are involved in nearly every process in the body. Your body normally tightly controls levels of these molecules in order to keep everything working correctly. If you do end up drastically altering your hormones, you may end up with negative effects in other parts of the body. Please talk with your physician about this as hormone balancing is a very comprehensive undertaking and must be done with the help of a board-certified physician.
      • It’s hard to know if your hormone levels are actually changing: Even if you follow the hormone diet exactly as written, you won’t necessarily be sure which hormones are increasing or decreasing, or how much they’re changing.
    • Overall, trying to control the levels of your many hormones through food might not be realistic, and could lead to further problems. If your body is healthy overall, then your hormone levels will be where they need to be. Abnormal hormone levels are often a sign of other health concerns.

Do You Need to Worry About Hormone Levels?

    Hormone Diet

    The body tightly controls how much of each hormone is made. Sometimes, health problems cause certain glands to make too much or too little of a hormone. This can lead to a hormone disorder, which may also be called an endocrine disorder. The most common disease in this category is diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, causing blood sugar levels to get too high. Another example is hypothyroidism. In this disorder, the thyroid doesn’t make enough T3 and T4 hormones, leading different body processes to slow down.

    Finding Out Your Hormone Levels

    If you think that you may actually have a problem with certain hormones, the first step is talking to your doctor. Your primary care provider can help you test your hormone levels by drawing your blood. If you are female, you may also be able to have your gynecologist measure levels of your reproductive hormones. Your doctor can then help you understand whether there are any problems and what steps you can take.

    Some companies also sell kits that allow you to test your hormone levels at home. This often involves collecting a sample of saliva, blood, or urine and mailing it in to a company. The company will then send you results that say what your levels of different hormones are and whether they are in a normal range. Again, it is important to take this information to your physician to review with you.

    Treatment

    If you are diagnosed with a hormone imbalance, there may be several different treatment options depending on what exactly the problem is. For example, if your thyroid produces too many hormones, you may be able to fix this through medication, radioactive treatment, or surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid.

    Low hormone levels may be able to be fixed by taking man-made hormones in order to replace the ones that your body isn’t making. One example of this is someone with diabetes taking insulin in order to help control blood sugar levels. Another example is a woman taking hormone replacement therapy while going through menopause. True hormone imbalances can usually be solved through medical means, rather than by going on a diet.

    Conclusion

    Overall, there is much we have yet to learn about hormones and the link with our food to our hormones and weight loss. Following the hormone diet could help you shed pounds, but any weight loss you see may be simply due to the fact that you’re eating healthier foods and exercising more. Regardless of whether or not you’re resetting your hormones, the hormone diet does contain many great ideas that can help people become healthier and weigh less.

    For more information on what type of diet would benefit your body, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Connor.

      Do the Three Most Popular Diets Really Work?

      Do the Three Most Popular Diets Really Work?

      Do the three most popular diets really work? There’s so much health, nutrition and fitness advice out there, and some tips seem to contradict others. Additionally, trends are constantly changing, and it’s hard to know what is actual good advice and what is just a passing fad.

      Here, we’ll break down the three most popular diets. These eating plans each come with some benefits that science shows may help your health. They all also come with advice that may be ineffective or even harmful for certain groups of people. Paying attention to the parts that work may help you learn how to maintain a healthy weight.

      What Are the Most Popular Diets?

      One way to tell which diets are the most popular is through surveys and studies. One such study is conducted each year by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). In 2020, the IFIC surveyed over 1000 Americans about their food habits and beliefs. 43% of Americans said that they had tried a diet or eating plan within the last year. This number was an increase compared with the past few years.

      The 2020 IFIC survey found that the three most popular diets were:

      1. Intermittent fasting
      2. Clean eating
      3. Ketogenic or high-fat diet

      Of course, just because a diet is popular doesn’t mean that it works for all or even most people! Here, we will dive into the science behind each of these diets and explore whether these eating plans are worth the time and effort.

      Intermittent Fasting

      How Do You Try Intermittent Fasting?

      Intermittent fasting doesn’t involve counting calories, eating certain foods, or avoiding certain items. This type of diet doesn’t tell you how or what to eat – it just tells you when to eat. However, the intermittent fasting diet is much more effective if — when the “eating” window occurs — one eats healthier options rather than higher caloric, heavily processed and unhealthier options. That is, if one engages in eating these very unhealthy options during this time, the effects of the intermittent fasting diet is diminished.

      There are many possible intermittent fasting plans you can follow. Some examples are:

      • Alternate day fasting: With this method, people fast every other day. On fasting days, a person only eats a couple hundred calories or doesn’t eat at all. On other days, a person eats normally.
      • 5:2 diet: This is a type of alternate-day plan where you eat normally for five days per week. On the remaining two days, you eat two very small meals totaling 500-600 calories. For example, you may decide to fast on Tuesdays and Fridays.
      • Eat-Stop-Eat: This plan involves fasting for a full day once or twice a week.
      • 16/8 method: On this plan, you fast for 16 hours and then eat all of your meals within an 8-hour window. For example, you may skip breakfast, and then eat a couple of meals between noon and 8:00 pm. Other similar plans exist, such as the 14/10 method, where you fast for 14 hours and eat for 10 hours.

      Many people are more successful at IF when they ease into it more slowly. Starting with the 16/8 or 14/10 method, or even just starting with skipping breakfast, may be easier than jumping right into alternate-day fasting.

      What is the Science Behind Intermittent Fasting?

      When you avoid food for a bit, several changes happen within your cells. Right after eating, the level of sugar in your blood gets higher. Your cells use this sugar to make energy. When you fast, you have less sugar in your blood, and your cells switch from using sugar to using stored fats as fuel. Additionally, during fasting periods, your cells can more easily heal damage.

      What Are Possible Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

      IF seems to help boost metabolism, spurring your body to burn more calories. Many clinical studies have shown that IF can help people shed pounds. This seems to be especially true for people who already weigh a little more. Additionally, when fasting is combined with strength training workouts, it can help people lose more fat without losing muscle.

      IF may also lead to other health benefits, including:

      Additionally, fasting plans may be easy to follow. You don’t have to plan or prep specific meals, or keep track of your foods. You can still easily visit restaurants and enjoy your favorite foods, which may be more difficult when following other diets.

      Are There Any Cons to Intermittent Fasting?

      Fasting can lead to many side effects, like extreme hunger, headaches, problems focusing, irritability, or bad breath. However, side effects may start to go away after several weeks.

      These side effects can make fasting hard to stick with. In clinical trials, people often eat more than they are supposed to on fasting days. Some studies have found that that IF leads to a larger drop in pounds compared to traditional calorie-cutting diets, while others have found that both diets produce similar amounts of weight loss and other health benefits. This means that if you’re more likely to stick with a standard low-calorie diet than an intermittent fasting plan, it may be better to just do that.

      People who try intermittent fasting should also know about other possible health issues while following this plan. Fasting can increase levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Fasting can also be risky for people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes. If you’re interested in trying IF, talk to your doctor first to get advice on how to fast safely.

      Clean Eating

      The second most popular type of diet in 2020, according to the IFIC survey, was clean eating. These diet plans emphasize eating whole foods that are in their natural state, as opposed to processed foods. People who follow clean eating plans say that they can lead to weight loss and better health.

      What Foods Do You Eat On a Clean Eating Plan?

      “Clean eating” does not refer to just one specific diet. It’s more of a loose, flexible set of guidelines. Clean eating plans encourage people to eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, non-fatty proteins, and healthy fats. These foods should also be eaten in their natural forms, without being altered, whenever possible.

      People on clean eating plans avoid foods that are processed. Any time a food has been changed from its original form, it’s not considered to be as “clean.” For example, clean eating says that eating whole fruits is better than drinking fruit juice. There are some exceptions, however. Frozen veggies and fruits are usually picked and frozen at their freshest, and are considered clean eating. Additionally, while cooking is technically a form of processing food, it’s fine to cook your meals when you’re on a clean eating plan. Examples of processed foods to avoid when following clean eating plans include:

      • Pre-made, pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods
      • Frozen or microwaveable meals
      • Items with additives and preservatives
      • Foods with added salt, fat, or sugar

      Check the labels of the foods you eat. If there are multiple ingredients you don’t recognize, that item may not be part of a clean eating plan.

      Does a Clean Eating Plan Work?

      Clean eating has not been directly tested in clinical trials. However, some of its principles have been.

      People who eat a lot of processed foods are more likely to be obese. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that cutting out processed foods will automatically make you start dropping pounds – it may be more complicated than that. Clean eating as a weight loss strategy has not yet been well-studied. However, clean eating is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which also emphasizes whole, fresh foods. Many studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can help people lose fat and achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

      Clean eating principles can potentially have other health advantages, too:

      Should You Follow a Clean Eating Plan?

      Clean eating hasn’t yet been well-studied enough to know whether or not these eating plans generally lead to weight loss. However, clean eating plans can likely provide many health benefits.

      It’s important to consider that clean eating means avoiding ready-made meals. Many restaurant or fast-food meals are also off the table. This means that you will need to cook most of your meals at home. This may be a good thing. It probably means that you’ll be saving money on your food bill. However, if you don’t have a lot of extra time to cook, it might be difficult for you to follow this plan.

      Ketogenic or High-Fat Diet

      A ketogenic diet, often simply called “keto,” is an eating plan in which people control the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that they eat. People following this diet will eat much fewer carbs and more fats than usual.

      What Is the Science Behind Keto?

      Keto works in a similar way as fasting. The cells in your body typically use carbohydrates, including sugars, as fuel. When cells aren’t getting enough carbs, they turn to a process called ketosis. During ketosis, fats are converted into molecules called ketone bodies, which are then used by cells to make energy. During this time, the body also stores less sugar and fat.

      Do Keto Diets Work?

      Several studies have found that high-fat diets can lead to greater amounts of weight loss than low-fat diets. Keto may help you lose weight by burning extra fat and by helping decrease your appetite and encourage you to eat less.

      Ketogenic diets help with other health issues, too. These diets have been used for nearly 100 years to help treat epilepsy. Modern studies have also found other benefits. Keto can:

      What Are Some Potential Problems With the Keto Diet?

      Keto can lead to side effects like nausea, tiredness, sleeping problems, and constipation. However, these side effects usually don’t last more than a few days, or occasionally up to a couple of weeks.

      Additionally, only a couple of studies have taken a deep look at how ketogenic diets affect health long-term, and we know that there are several long-term side effects that must be taken into consideration before one starts a ketogenic diet. These include the following: fatty liver (hepatic steatosis), low protein levels in the blood (hypoproteinemia), kidney stones (renal calculi), and certain mineral and vitamin deficiencies and it is possible that there are other long-term side effects that we don’t yet know about. Additionally, keto can increase your cholesterol levels, so if you already have high cholesterol, this diet may not be a good fit for you.

      How Do You Follow a Keto Diet?

      If you want to try keto, you will need to eat a lot more fat and a lot fewer carbs. There are different keto plans that advise eating different amounts of these nutrients. Many plans encourage people to eat foods in the following ratios:

      • 55-60% of the calories you eat should be fats
      • 30-35% of your calories should be proteins
      • 5-10% of your calories should be carbohydrates

      In order ensure you’re hitting these goals, you will have to track everything that you eat and drink. Several websites and apps can help by allowing you to log foods. These tools can then calculate how many of your calories come from fats, proteins, and carbs, and help you see if you are on track.

      Will Any of These Diets Help You?

      Most diets give people good results after six months. They often help people lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels in the short term. However, in the long term, these benefits often disappear. People gain back the weight and their blood pressure and cholesterol levels go back to where they were before.

      One reason is that diets are very hard to stick with. It’s somewhat easy to see results when a diet feels new and exciting. It’s harder to have momentum. For this reason, it may be better to build up eating habits that you know you’ll be able to stick with. Take a look at your needs and preferences, including how much time you have available to cook your own meals and the types of foods you usually like to eat. Try to find a diet that doesn’t involve a lot of big changes, and start slow.

      Fasting, clean eating, and keto can all probably help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your health. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet or eating plan, because they can help you do so safely and minimize possible health problems.

      If you would like to learn more, schedule a consultation with Dr. Connor

      Superfoods Part 2: Supercharge Your Diet with Superfoods for Weight Loss

      Superfoods Part 2: Supercharge Your Diet with Superfoods for Weight Loss

      Superfoods Help With Weight Loss

      For a refresher on what superfoods are, have a read of Part 1 of my series on superfoods.

      Many different factors affect how much you weigh, but your diet is one of the most important when it comes to healthy weight loss strategies. Eating a balance of superfoods can not only help you get to a healthy weight and keep the extra pounds off, but also help your body ward off many chronic health conditions. Superfoods are full of fiber, proteins, healthy fats, and antioxidants that can keep you full, boost metabolism, and help your body function at its best. Superfoods for weight loss can be combined with other healthy weight loss strategies, like intermittent fasting, to supercharge your diet and help you lose weight.

      Which Foods Are Good for Losing Weight?

      When you’re trying to plan your diet around certain weight or health goals, it can be hard to know which foods are most helpful. It may be beneficial to better understand the building blocks that make up food.

       

      Macronutrients

      All food is made of nutrients. The three main macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. In recent years, high-protein, low-carb eating plans such as the Paleo and keto diets have become extremely popular, and it wasn’t that long ago that low-fat diets were all the rage. This may lead some people to think that all protein is good, and all carbs and fats are bad. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The truth is that your body needs all three of these macronutrients in the right balance. Getting too much or too little of any nutrient can lead to health problems and even weight gain.

      That being said, not all proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are created equal. For example:

      • Proteins are made up of smaller compounds called amino acids. There are about 20 different kinds of amino acids that the body needs in order to function properly. If you get too much or too little of a certain amino acid, you may be left with an imbalance that affects your health.
      • Carbohydrates come in two basic varieties: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates consist of one or two sugar molecules, while complex carbs are long strings of sugars attached together. The body can use both of these for energy, but complex carbs take longer to break down. This means they won’t cause big spikes or drops in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates also tend to contain more nutrients. Simple or refined carbs can easily lead to weight gain, while complex carbs can help support a healthy weight.
      • Fats also come in different forms. Unsaturated fats are found in plants and seafood and can be great for health. Saturated fats, which come from animal products, and trans fats, which are found in processed oils, can lead to health problems when they’re eaten in high amounts.

      How Do Superfoods Play a Role?

      While there isn’t an official or scientific definition of what can be classified as a “superfood,” in general these foods are items that contain a lot of beneficial nutrients. Some of these foods can help you reach a healthy weight, and stay there.

      Superfoods tend to have higher levels of healthier carbohydrates and fats. They also usually contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which protect cells from damage. Many of these compounds have been linked to having a healthy metabolism.

      Superfoods for Weight Loss

      If you’re trying to rev up your metabolism, shed fat, or stay full longer, superfoods can help. However, you can’t just eat one superfood occasionally, in between meals full of less healthy foods, and expect it to have a strong effect. Eating for weight loss means eating a balance of many different types of foods. If you can fit in a variety of different types of superfoods into your diet on a regular basis, you can help your body reach a healthy weight.

       

      What might a superfood-filled day look like? There are many different options, but here I will show how to fit more superfoods into your diet, meal by meal.

      Breakfast Superfoods: Get Your Metabolism Going

      Should You Eat Breakfast Every Morning?

      Many early studies found that people who ate breakfast every day tended to weigh less, while those who skipped this meal often had a higher BMI, higher cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of diabetes. However, more studies have shown conflicting results. For some people, skipping breakfast is the better weight loss strategy.

      One possible reason for this is genetics. People with certain genes may respond better to skipping the first meal of the day, while people with a different genetic makeup may reach their goal weight after making breakfast a part of their normal routine.

      Another reason why some studies have found different outcomes is that not all breakfasts are created equal. If you’re digging into sugary cereal or other forms of refined carbs every morning, you’re not adding much nutrition to your body. Switching these meals out for a superfood breakfast, on the other hand, will give you more health benefits. Plus, it may help you ward off hunger for longer.

      A Superfood Breakfast

      Some of the best superfood breakfast options include whole grains and fruit. Whole grains are more likely to make you feel full compared to refined grains. They also tend to have more fiber and nutrients, and can help increase the healthy bacteria in your gut.

      A simple bowl of oatmeal counts as a whole grain. Oatmeal contains different types of fiber, such as beta-glucan, which makes you feel full and helps you manage your weight. Steel-cut or rolled oatmeal, as well as other whole-grain options such as buckwheat or quinoa, fills you up without making your blood sugar spike. Top oatmeal with nuts, nut butter, granola, or fruit. One good option is blueberries, which contain compounds called anthocyanins that reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and diabetes and help the body lose weight.

      Eggs are another great superfood option. They are loaded with protein and provide a lot of healthy unsaturated fats. Eggs also contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals, and eating just two eggs provides you with 10-30% of your needed vitamins for the day. In one study where people tried to use a low-calorie diet to lose weight, those who had eggs for breakfast lost more weight than those who had a high-carb bagel breakfast.

      While you’re at it, go ahead and pour yourself a cup of coffee for breakfast. Tea is well-known for its health benefits, but coffee is a superfood as well, leading to a lower risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and several different types of cancers. Coffee may even help you live longer! It also makes people feel more full, so it may be a good way to keep away the hunger in the morning.

      Superfoods for Lunch: Grab Something Filling

      Your lunch should give you the energy and power you need to help you get through the rest of the day. Your best bet is to look for superfoods that pack a punch of fiber, fat, and protein.

      High-Fiber Foods

      Eating an extra 14 grams of fiber per day causes people to eat 10% fewer calories and lose weight. Try including some of the following high-fiber superfoods in your lunches:

      • Sandwich on whole-grain bread
      • Salad packed with fresh veggies, nuts, and seeds
      • Meat and veggies over brown rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat pasta
      • Lentil or bean salad full of spices and fresh vegetables
      • Wrap with beans and veggies
      • Nuts or a low-sugar trail mix
      • Nut butters served with fruits, vegetables, or whole-grain crackers
      • Hummus and veggies
      • Fresh or dried fruits, including the skin if it’s edible

      Include the Right Fats

      Eating a meal high in saturated fat can limit your attention span and impair your ability to focus. However, eating healthier fats may help combat the post-lunch slump that so many of us get.

      For example, prepare your next lunch with an avocado, which is loaded with monounsaturated fats. In one study, overweight people who ate an avocado every day and cut calories lost weight and had fewer signs of inflammation. Another study found that people who ate half an avocado along with their lunch had a 40% decreased desire to eat for three hours after the meal.

      Other superfood sources of unsaturated fats include seafood, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil, and oil-based salad dressings.

      Protein-Packed Lunches

      Some scientific research has found that high-protein diets tend to make people feel more full and eat less later on. Getting more of your calories from protein, as opposed to carbohydrates or fats, also helps people lose more weight and keep it off.

      Meat and poultry contains a lot of protein, but these foods generally don’t offer as much nutritional value as plant-based, protein-packed superfoods. Several different studies have found that eating beans, chickpeas, and lentils can make people feel a third more full.

      Superfood Snacks for an Energy Boost

      What should you reach for when you start to feel hungry in the afternoon? Fruits, vegetables, popcorn, nuts, and low-fat yogurt or cheese make great, nutritious options.

      For a slightly different snack, try flaxseed. Eating fiber from flaxseeds led to lower levels of fat in the bloodstream and increased feelings of fullness in one study. These seeds are also full of omega-3s, a healthy type of fat. Omega-3 foods make people feel more full, helping them shed weight. They also lower your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

      To use flaxseed, grind up a tablespoon or two and throw it on top of popcorn or mix into nut butter. You can also make your own healthy flax baked goods such as muffins or cookies by substituting flaxseed for other ingredients:

      • To use flax in place of oil, use in a 3:1 ratio (use three tablespoons ground flaxseed instead of one tablespoon oil).
      • To substitute flaxseed for eggs, mix a tablespoon of flax with three tablespoons of water and let stand for 15 minutes. Use the mixture in place of one egg.

      Dinner Superfoods: Choose a Well-Rounded Meal

      Main Courses

      When cooking dinner, it may be helpful to get inspiration from the Mediterranean diet, which can help people lose weight in addition to reducing risk of heart disease and diabetes. The Mediterranean diet encourages people to eat many different superfoods, emphasizing whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seafood, high-fiber foods, and olive oil. People who follow the Mediterranean diet don’t eat much red meat, eggs, butter, or sugary foods.

      To follow this diet, try to eat more seafood in place of beef and pork, and increase your intake of plant-based foods. Beans and lentils can provide a lot of protein and fiber when you’re eating less animal-based meats.

      For extra flavor, cook with superfood spices that may also help you control your weight:

      • Spicy chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, and sweet peppers contain capsiate. Both of these molecules boost metabolism and increase the amount of fat that the body burns.
      • Ginger can help people lose pounds and improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
      • Turmeric intake helps people lose weight and improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

      Superfood Sides

      Most superfoods are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. All of these can be easily turned into side dishes! Making more nutritious, seasonal sides for your meals is a great way to get more superfoods. For a better shot at weight loss, try changing your approach to dinnertime – downsize your portion of meat, and make large, flavorful superfood side dishes the main focus of the meal.

      Some of the most nutrient-dense foods that offer the best protection against chronic diseases are easily used as side dishes. These include leafy green vegetables like spinach and chard, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. These superfood veggies may also help with your weight goals. For example, spinach can help control genes involved in metabolism and signal the body to release hormones that make you feel more full, thus encouraging you to eat less.

      Can You Have Superfoods for Dessert?

      It’s perfectly okay to enjoy some of your favorite heavier, higher-fat, sugar-laden foods, as long as you balance them with other foods that provide more nutrients. If you want to indulge, try eating these foods in smaller amounts, less often. When people occasionally treat themselves to a less-healthy food item that they love, they can actually lose more weight than people who always feel guilty when they indulge.

      If you are going to have a dessert, try eating something containing whole berries or other fruit that can give you fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Dark chocolate is also considered a superfood – it has many antioxidants and other helpful nutrients. Eating dark chocolate can help decrease appetite and, in one study, men who ate dark chocolate ate 17% less during their next meal.

      Conclusions

      A wide variety of superfoods can be added to every meal of your day. The more different kinds of superfoods you can fit in your diet, the more nutrients you will take in, leading to better health and a lower risk of disease. Most superfoods have been linked to helping people reach and stay at a healthy weight. If you can figure out how to add extra superfoods into some of your favorite recipes in place of foods that are higher in sugar and saturated fat, you can help your metabolism function at its best.

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