12 Foods to Spring Clean Your Body
Ah, spring! Warmer weather, skin-baring shorts, and bathing suit season will soon be upon us once again! If the thought of coming out from beneath your baggy cold-weather sweaters is making you break out in a cold sweat, relax! You still have plenty of time to lose 10 pounds and look your best before sundress season arrives. Everything listed below is easy to find and delicious, making it super simple to start looking and feeling your best for the new season, right away!
If you've been keeping warm all winter by sipping on soup, your pants may be feeling a bit tight. Lighten up! You likely haven't packed on the pounds if you generally stick to a healthy diet; you're just bloated from all the salty broths. When you consume a lot of sodium, the body retains fluids, resulting in a paunchy belly. Luckily, there's a simple solution: Sip some hibiscus tea. Doing so will help your pooch deflate. The flavonoids in the hibiscus plant counteract bloating by influencing how aldosterone, the hormone that regulates water and electrolytes balance, affects the body. You can buy some at Adagio.com for as little as $2.
While we wouldn't recommend a hard-core, food-free detox to get ready for spring, adding some naturally-detoxifying beets to your plate is a strategy we can get behind. These jewel-toned roots contain a type of antioxidant called betalains that help repair and regenerate cells in the liver, the body's primary detox center. If you've been boozing to stay warm (no judgment, hot toddies are delicious), your liver may be feeling overworked. Beets will give it a bit of support, so you're ready for that packed party schedule come spring. Check out these 13 Ways to Cook Beet Greens and Beet Root for some inspiration.
If your winter-long hibernation has left you looking a bit pasty, cook up some sweet potatoes. You'll get a sun-kissed complexion from the carotenoids, an organic pigment that gives the spuds their orange color. But, no, you won't look like an Oompa Loompa—we promise. In fact, when given a choice between a real suntan and a glow caused by diet, study participants preferred the carotenoid complexion. Just half a medium potato with the skin provides 200 percent of your daily recommended carcinoid intake, so eat up!
One of the best metabolism-boosting ingredients out there is likely already sitting in your refrigerator: mustard. Eating just one teaspoon of the stuff—for a mere 5 calories—can boost your metabolism by up to 25 percent for several hours, according to English researchers. Smear some of the spread onto a chicken sandwich, brush some onto a fish fillet before baking, or use it as a meat marinade. Since eating protein can also boost your calorie burn, combining them is a middle-whittling double whammy!
You know consuming fewer calories can help you slim down, but if you're perpetually hungry, cutting back can be a challenge. Don't turn to an OTC appetite suppressant to help quell your hunger pangs. Not only can they negatively impact blood pressure and heart rate, but they can also lead to insomnia, which can work against you by stimulating your appetite! Plus, there's no guarantee the supplement will actually work.
Instead of starting this vicious cycle, add some spinach to your plate to ward off hunger naturally. The green's membranes contain a powerful appetite suppressing compounds called thylakoids. A cup of spinach is super low-cal, so go ahead and add some to your breakfast smoothie (we love these 18 Green Smoothie Recipes That Don't Taste Like Veggies), morning omelet, or lunchtime sandwich to fill up without filling out.
No matter how toned your stomach actually is, bloat can banish your abs from sight. Luckily, fighting back against gas and water retention is as easy as biting into a banana. Eating the fruit twice daily as a pre-meal snack can reduce belly bloat by 50 percent according to researchers! Bananas have two superpowers that help slim your stomach: they increase bloat-fighting bacteria in the stomach and provide a healthy dose of potassium, which can help diminish water retention. Translation: If you add them to your diet you'll shimmy into those cute spring fashions with confidence.
As the weather gets warmer, the sun's UV rays also get stronger. Although it's important to protect your skin year round, it's even more imperative to do so during the warmer months. Yes, slathering on sunblock is a good first line of defense, but consuming foods high in antioxidants, like tomatoes, can actually ward off skin damage from the inside out. Study participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste a day had 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group, in one British Journal of Dermatology study. Don't worry, you don't have to down it straight. Look for low-sodium varieties to keep bloating at bay, and add it to soups, stews, sauces, or omelets for a hit of Mediterranean flavor.
If you have sluggish bowels or suffer from chronic constipation, you may be sporting a bit of a belly. While you've likely heard that adding fiber to your diet may be helpful, you may not know that few sources of the nutrient are as effective as kiwi. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who ate two kiwis a day for a month had less constipation and a general lessening of IBS symptoms than those who didn't in a study conducted by researchers in Pacific Asia. Add the powerful fruit to your oatmeal, throw it into smoothies or combine it with other fruits in a light, refreshing salad.
If you typically eat your potatoes warm, you're missing out on the spud's super fat-fighting powers. When potatoes are cooked and then cooled in the refrigerator its digestible starches turn into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation. As the name implies, the body has to work harder to digest resistant starch, which promotes fat oxidation and reduces abdominal fat. If the idea of eating cold spuds straight isn't appetizing, consider using them to make a potato salad. After baking Yukon Gold or red potatoes in the oven, allow them to cool and then cut them into small slices. Toss them with Dijon mustard, fresh pepper, chopped green onions, dill, and plain Greek yogurt (its probiotics can help banish bloat, so it's a win-win). Then, mix everything together and put in the refrigerator to cool before consuming.
Instead of overhauling your entire diet in an attempt to slim down for spring, simply eat half a grapefruit before each meal. This tactic can help whittle your middle—by up to an inch—in just six weeks according to a study published in the journal Metabolism. The scientists attribute the powerful effects to the grapefruit's fat-zapping phytochemicals. But that's not all! Another study conducted by Japanese researchers found that the scent of grapefruit can "turn on" calorie-burning brown fat cells, enhancing the breakdown of fat while reducing appetite. Sounds like a great reason to add it to your spring cleaning diet to us. The fruit can interact negatively with certain medications, though, so check in with your M.D. before indulging in the citrus appetizer.
Need to lose weight for a springtime affair that's only months away? Don't freak out. Here's your game plan: Instead of overhauling your entire diet, simply add an artichoke to your dinner salad. For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your middle will carry almost 4 percent less flab, according to researchers. Just one artichoke will help you hit the day's nutritional mark.
While eating something that can give you gas to slim down for spring may sound counterintuitive, it's actually a solid strategy. In one four-week study, researchers found that study participants who ate a calorie-restricted diet that included four weekly servings of legumes lost more weight than those on a calorie-equivalent diet that didn't include beans—likely due to the legume's high fiber content. To reap the benefits at home, add lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans into your weekly diet. Those were the exact types of legumes participants ate in the study. Check out these 25 Pulse Recipes for Weight Loss for createive ways to prepare them.