You are NOT always what you eat. If we were what we ate, then people who ate lots of hot dogs and pork chops would be solid walls of muscle. People who ate lots of pasta would be stringy and fat-free. People who ate lots of pecan pie would be Zooey Deschanel (sweet, but nutty and flaky). And people who ate a lot of fat would be fat.
What’s that, you say? That last sentence is true? People who eat fat are fat? Well, no, not necessarily. Science shows that eating fat won’t make you fat any more than eating money will make you rich. In fact, picking the right kind of fat is one of the most important tricks for losing weight.
Now, eating foods that are packed with the wrong kinds of fat will make you fat. Trans fats found in pie crusts and other baked goods, and saturated fats found in processed and grain-fed meats, add hefty calories while doing mostly harm to your body’s nutritional bottom line. But healthy fats will do the opposite: They can quell your appetite, cutting the number of calories you eat in a day, while improving your heart health and stoking your metabolism.
Delicious, fatty foods that help you lose weight? Where can you sign up? Right here!
Yeah, I know: grass-fed beef is a little pricey. But its higher ratio of good-for-you fats make it well worth the cost: A study in Nutrition Journal found that grass-fed meat contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. And when it comes to your waistline, grass-fed beef is naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat. Consider this: A 7-ounce conventional strip steak, trimmed of fat, will run you 386 calories and 16 grams of fat. But a 7-ounce grass-fed strip steak is only 234 calories and five grams of fat—you’ll save more than 150 calories and your steak will taste better. And enjoy your beef, guilt-free, by making one of The Best Burgers for Weight Loss.
Olive oil is rich in cancer-fighting polyphenols and heart-strengthening monounsaturated fats, and when it comes to looking lean, it’s backed by some pretty strong facts. A recent study from Obesity found that an olive-oil-rich diet resulted in higher levels of adiponectin than did a high-carb or high-protein diet. Adiponectin is a hormone responsible for breaking down fats in the body, and the more you have of it, the lower your BMI tends to be. Reap the benefits by making olive oil your cooking fat of choice and using it in dressings and sauces.
Coconut is high in saturated fat, but more than half of that comes from lauric acid, a unique lipid that battles bacteria and improves cholesterol scores. And get this: A study published in Lipids found that dietary supplementation of coconut oil actually reduced abdominal obesity. Of the participants, half were given two tablespoons of coconut oil daily and the other half were given soybean oil, and although both groups experienced overall weight loss, only the coconut oil consumers’ waistlines shrunk. Sprinkle unsweetened flakes over yogurt or use coconut milk in a stir-fry to start whittling your waist. Can’t wait to see that washboard stomach? Pair your coconut oil with these 11 Eating Habits That Uncover Your Abs.
Good news for your sweet tooth: Chocolate can help you flatten your belly. Dark chocolate, that is. But to truly take advantage, don’t wait until dessert: A recent study found that when men ate 3.5 ounces of chocolate two hours before a meal, those who had dark chocolate took in 17 percent fewer calories than those that ate milk chocolate. The researchers believe that this is because dark chocolate contains pure cocoa butter, a source of digestion-slowing stearic acid. Milk chocolate’s cocoa butter content, on the other hand, is tempered with added butter fat and, as a result, passes more quickly through your GI tract. Because dark chocolate takes more time to process, it staves off hunger and helps you lose weight. When dark chocolate just won’t cut it, rely on the Eat This, Not That!-approved 10 Best Junk Foods for Weight Loss.
Numerous studies have indicated that almonds can help you lose weight despite their high fat content. In fact, a study from the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders compared two diets over the course of six months. One group followed a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet (18 percent fat) and the other followed a moderate-fat diet (39 percent fat) in which the extra fat was supplied by almonds. The latter group lost more weight than the low-fat dieters, despite the fact that both groups consumed the same amount of total calories. Furthermore, the almond eaters experienced a 50 percent greater waistline reduction. How is this possible? Almonds contain compounds that limit the amount of fat absorbed by the body, so some passes through undigested. Try stirring almond butter into your oatmeal, spreading it on toast with banana slices, or eating a couple spoonfuls as a snack.
This wonder fruit is essentially Mother Nature’s butter. It’s rich, creamy, and—unlike butter—an acceptable food to eat all on its own. Although you should limit yourself to a quarter or half of an avocado, you have no reason to fear its fats. Avocados pack in healthy monounsaturated fats that contain oleic acid, which can actually help quiet feelings of hunger. They also give you two things butter doesn’t: protein and fiber. We all love guacamole—maybe a little too much—but an easy, delicious way to slip some health benefits into your day is to enjoy the Australian staple, the avocado smash. Mash half or quarter of an avocado with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of hot sauce, and some salt and pepper before slathering it on your whole wheat toast in the morning and you’ll easily stay full until lunchtime.
The dairy aisle is one that you need to enter with your eyes wide open: Yogurts can pack in as much sugar as a candy bar. If you were going to eat that much sugar, we’re guessing you would have chosen the candy bar. Greek yogurt is a good choice because of its extra protein and good fat combo; protein takes longer to breakdown and fat makes you feel satisfied, so you’ll fly through your morning without an urge to snack. For effects you’ll feel all day, add a low-sugar, high-protein Greek yogurt to your breakfast ritual. In a 2013 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, overweight adolescent females saw a significant improvement in appetite control and reduction in evening snacking when they ate breakfasts with 35 grams of protein. When’s the last time your breakfast helped you until you went to bed?
Salmon doesn’t get as bad of a rap as it used to when it comes to fat, but its health benefits are worth repeating. Adding a filet of this fish into your diet just twice a week to get the amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids recommended by the American Heart Association. Healthy people aren’t the only ones reaping the rewards of their dinner choices, though. Even those already at a high risk of cardiovascular disease can get a leg up by serving salmon a couple times a week. Omega-3s reduce the risk of arrhythmia, decrease triglyceride levels, and can actually slightly lower blood pressure. Add some flaked salmon on a salad with some chopped avocado for a double down on those health benefits.