They've appeared in numerous box-office hits but, since they aren't playing a main character, they go virtually unnoticed by the media and audience. But that doesn't make them any less vital to the films in which they appear. Well, certain weight-loss nutrients are a bit like Hollywood's' B-list: No one talks about them, but without them the show couldn’t go on—so to speak!
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, falls into this category. This vital water-soluble vitamin needs to be consumed on a daily basis. “Niacin is important for the conversion of carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy,” explains Lisa Cimperman, MS, RDN, LD, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It also helps the body’s digestive system and nerves function properly and is involved with the production of a variety of hormones. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, vitamin B3 may also reduce the risk of heart disease, lower harmful cholesterol levels, and increase your hair growth.
Luckily, getting enough of the nutrient—which is about 16 milligrams a day for adults—isn’t too difficult, especially with our list of the best sources. Keep reading to get in the know.
(You’ll be pleased to find that many of the most potent sources are also foods that can help you lose weight!)
Niacin Content: 1 oz, 1 mg
Daily Value: 6%
The best time to eat almonds is right before you hit the gym. Thanks for their high L-arginine content, the nut can actually boost your carb and fat burn during your workout. They also make for a great addition to roasted vegetable side dishes. Green beans and slivered almonds, anyone? Delish!
Nuts for nuts? We’ve got the scoop on the best healthy nuts for your waistline.
Niacin Content: 1/2 cup, 1.5 mg
Daily Value: 9%
These white legumes contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that boosts satiety and calorie burn by up to 23 percent. They’re also a great source of muscle-building protein—a half-cup packs in 10 grams of the nutrient! Use them in just about any recipe, from soups to vegetarian patties, that calls for beans.
Niacin Content: ¾ cup, 2 mg
Daily Value: 13%
Besides serving up a hefty dose of vitamin B3, brown rice is packed with slow-digesting fiber, making it a great addition to any weight loss plan. Whip up a big batch over the weekend and use it to make quick healthy dishes like stuffed peppers and cold grain-based salads throughout the week.
Niacin Content: 1 medium, 2.2 mg
Daily Value: 14%
Despite what you may have heard, white potatoes aren’t bad for your health or waistline. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In addition to serving up a fair share of niacin and stress-busting vitamin C, potatoes are better satiety-boosters than brown rice and oatmeal, two of their their less demonized starchy counterparts. Ditch high-cal potato toppings like sour cream and bacon bits, and enjoy the spuds with olive oil, rosemary and fresh pepper instead to keep the pounds flying off.
Niacin Content: ¾ cup, 3 mg
Daily Value: 19%
“Portobellos are the most B3-packed veggie you’ll find, and they’re a great substitute for high-fat meats. Eating a plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of chronic disease and aid weight maintenance,” explains Cimperman. Sauté chopped mushrooms in olive oil along with some garlic, chopped onion, salt and pepper, top with freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy as a healthy, flavorful side dish.
Niacin Content: 2 tbsp, 4.2 mg
Daily Value: 26%
Peanut butter is the best source of niacin outside of the meats section for vegetarians and carnivores alike. A mere two tablespoons provides more than a quarter of the day’s recommended intake! Just be sure to avoid containers of the stuff that are made with sugar, palm oil, or anything you can’t pronounce to reap the spread’s full fat-fighting benefits. Besides boasting belly-slimming monounsaturated fats and metabolism-boosting protein, the spread is rich in genistein, a compound that makes it harder for your body to store fat.
Grass- Fed Beef
Niacin Content: 3 oz, 4.7 mg
Daily Value: 29%
Though niacin levels will remain relatively consistent no matter what type of beef you buy, if maintaining or losing weight is a priority for you, opt for the grass-fed variety. Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat, in addition to containing more omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to ward off metabolism-slowing inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Niacin Content: 3 oz, 7 mg
Daily Value: 44%
When it comes to eating pig, pork tenderloin is the best bet for your waistline and your health. A three-ounce serving has slightly less fat than a skinless chicken breast and packs 24 grams of satiating protein per serving—and that’s all in addition to its hefty dose of niacin. The same three-ounce serving will almost get you to half of the day’s intake. Bonus: It’s also one of the most affordable proteins you’ll find at the meat market.
Niacin Content: 3 oz, 7.8 mg
Daily Value: 49%
Just under 50 percent of the day’s niacin in a three-ounce serving? We’ll take a serving of that! Add more of this nutrient-packed, slimming meat to your diet with our our favorite easy chicken recipes for weight loss.
Tuna Packed in Water
Niacin Content: 3 oz, 8.6 mg
Daily Value: 54%
Canned tuna is the best source of niacin you’ll find, and it’s jam packed with docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 that stunts the growth of belly fat cell. Worried about the mercury? Don’t be. Canned chunk tuna is considered a “low mercury fish” and can be enjoyed two to three times a week, according to the FDA’s most recent guidelines. To keep calories low, don’t mix the fish with mayo. Instead, combine your can of tuna with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and a bit of salt and pepper.