In honor of the Look Better Naked book I mentioned in yesterday's post (thanks to Women's Health), I wanted to add these foods that are not part of "a weight loss program merely designed to help you peel off any extra pounds that are standing between the now you- and the new-you (though it will also accomplish that). No, this plan will do much more by changing how you think about food.
Focus on what you can eat-not on what you can't or shouldn't. The point is to empower yourself. Train yourself to stop thinking, "I can't have chocolate cake." Instead, think, "I can have delicious blueberries." If you think 'can't', you'll feel miserable- and you'll go ahead and indulge anyway, and end up feeling even worse. By choosing to eat something as good for you as those sweet, luscious, nutrient-packed blueberries, you can take control of what you put into your body, which will in turn help you to feel positive about yourself- and lose weight.
The majority of the ingredients in the diet are included not just for the weight loss or palate-pampering properties. These foods have natural elements that will enhance your appearance-by targeting belly fat, plumping up skin cells, adding luster to your hair, "glowifying" your complexion, strengthening your nails, and even protecting you from illness. Here is a sneak peek of the top 20 Look Better Naked foods and what they can do for you...
This fruit is famous for containing an abundance of cholesterol-lowering, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which boosts the bioavailability of antioxidants in the foods it's paired with. A good complement? Tomatoes-a fact that makes a strong case for adding tomatoes to your guacamole- because they're rich in lycopene, a pigment-rich antioxidant that reduces cancer risk and cardiovascular disease.
To whip up your own avocado salad dressing, puree a medium avocado with 2 Tbl. lemon juice and a dash of cayenne. If an avocado is firm, place it in a brown paper bag with an apple or a banana, which will emit ripening ethylene gas. If you're only going to eat half of the avocado, leave the pit in the part you don't use- it will prevent browning.
Nothing beats pure protein when it comes to building muscle. The problem with the majority of store-bought beef, is that most cattle are fed grain, giving their meat a relatively high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. This, in turn, contributes to a host of problems.
Beef is among the best sources of highly absorbable iron that you'll find in your supermarket. Low iron levels, which are common in us ladies, not only zap your zip, but can also cause brittle nails.
Any variety you pick- blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries- is insanely good for you. In general, the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice- and the better it is for your health. Blackberries, for instance, are loaded with powerful antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function (and are also found in red wine and tea).
Can't say anything bad about blueberries either, but wild varieties contain 26% more antioxidants than cultivated ones. Blueberries also contain vision-protecting vitamin C plus appetite-quelling fiber (though raspberries have more fiber than any other berry). Researchers now believe that blueberries also fight urinary tract infections. Ladies, we are more prone to these nasty bugs due to our shortened anatomy down there.
Strawberries pack up to 3x more vit C than any other berry and have fewer calories, but they're one of the most important foods to buy organic because they have a unique capacity for absorbing pesticides.
Beans are a healthy way to add protein to your diet, as well as potassium, folate, and iron- and the darker the beans, the better. Studies found that beans are loaded with the same heart-healthy, cancer-preventing compounds found in red wine, berries, and tea. All beans are low in fat, and they're packed with protein, fiber, and iron-nutrients that are crucial for building muscle and losing weight.
Bright-red peppers have high levels of antioxidant vitamins A and C. As little as one cup of chopped red peppers contains nearly 3x the minimum of amount of vitamin C and nearly 100% of the vitamin A recommended for the typical 2000-calorie-a-day diet. While green or yellow peppers contain less vitamin A than red ones, all peppers are naturally fat-free and low-calorie, and contain 3 grams of fiber per chopped cup.
Yes, we have grown to hate these little suckers. Selenium is a vital trace mineral that mops up those pesky free radicals and helps protect against heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer. A cup of brussels sprouts contains twice as much selenium as butternut squash or kale. Your thyroid can't produce certain hormones without it. Brussels sprouts can also fire up enzymes that may stop breast-cancer cells from growing.
In terms of lean protein, white-meat chicken (minus the skin) reigns supreme. And lean protein also is a terrific source that assists in skin cell turnover. (So good-bye flaky old dead cells, and hello fresh, rosy new ones!) You can easily grill enough chicken for a week's worth of meals- to chunk into salads or slice for sandwiches. Just rub a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts with olive oil, garlic, and dried rosemary and fire on each side for about 5 min., then store in the fridge for up to a week.
The abundant fiber and sorbitol (a sugar alcohol that the body metabolizes slowly) in prunes keep blood sugar and insulin levels in check. Prunes may also help you shrink your waistline. (It's all that fiber which means you are less likely to gain weight!) Prunes can help fight the hardening of arteries and pack a powerful antioxidant punch too. Also a good dried fruit? Cherries!
This is the ideal breakfast! The incredible edible contains B vitamins, which enable nerve cells to burn glucose, your brain's major energy source: antioxidants, which protect neurons from damage; and omega-3 fatty acids, which keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed. They're good for your belly too. Those who eat eggs for breakfast lose 65% more weight than those who eat a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories...Wow!
These super seeds have the highest level of lignans, estrogen-like compounds, of any food. In fact, women who eat the most lignans have the lowest body mass indexes. Estrogen quells appetite and shrinks fat cells. Give the seeds a spin in your coffee grinder and sprinkle the grinds on cereal or yogurt, or blend them into smoothies. You can also find flaxseed in multigrain breads and cereals.
This is now your go-to dip instead of the calorie bomb that is ranch dressing. High in fiber and lower in saturated fat and calories, hummus pairs equally well with veggies. Make your own by mixing the following ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy: two 10 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, drained, with 1/3 cup liquid reserved; juice of 1 lemon; 3 Tbl. olive oil; 2 cloves garlic; 1 tsp salt; 1 tsp ground cumin. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to use.
Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese
Low-fat, calcium rich foods can help you lose weight in the long term. Plain low-fat yogurt, especially the Greek-style stuff like Chobani provides muscle, friendly protein and contains less sugar than other types. Reduced-fat cottage cheese is another protein heavyweight, with 14g in half a cup. In addition to building muscle, calcium will help you attain a strong, vibrant mane, because hair is made up of almost all protein.
Nuts & Nut Butters
To get moist, beautiful, chap-free lips, your body needs to constantly replace old skin cells with new ones. Reach for walnuts. Their omega-3 fats help regulate this turnover so that it happens all the time. Almonds are bursting with vitamin E, an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system, and almond butter is an easy flavor upgrade from peanut butter.
Olives & Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
A single tablespoon of olive oil delivers 10g of monounsaturated fat. Adding olive oil to red, green, orange, or yellow fruits and vegetables increases the amount of cancer-fighting, vision-boosting, heart-saving, immune-repairing, bone-strengthening vitamins such as A, E, and K, as well as carotenoids. For a quick salad dressing, pair two parts olive oil with one part balsamic vinegar, which can improve vascular function.
Eat wild salmon from Alaska and you'll be taking advantage of a nutritional all-star. This tasty fish can help lower cholesterol and boost your mood, plus it's a great source of lean protein. Eating this delicious fish helps your body produce wrinkle-fighting friends, such as collagen and keratin. Yet another score!
Made from pressed soybean curds, tofu was once the bastion of vegetarians. But the plant protein in tofu-which comes in firm or soft varieties, and is delicious marinated and tossed in salads- provides a full complement of amino acids, as well as isoflavone, which helps muscle recover from exercise.
One of the best lean proteins out there, tuna contains niacin that raises HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides more than most cholesterol-lowering drugs alone! Instead of mixing it in a lot of mayo and turning it into a fatty disaster, add pepper, hot sauce, and some fresh lemon juice. Or toss it in your salad!
Oatmeal, barley, wheat flour, brown rice, and whole-grain sourdough bread are all high in fiber. which will keep you full by taking a long time to digest. But not all breads and crackers advertised as "whole grain" are the real deal. Read the label. Those that aren't whole grain can be high in fat. Two easy options: Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats or The Baker Bread's seven-grain sourdough whole-wheat bread. Beginning your day with oats helps protect against obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Sourdough also causes less of a spike in blood sugar than any other type of bread."
*Disclaimer- Again, I am not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, etc. These foods can be researched for your own health benefit.*
Which of these Look Better Naked foods is your favorite??
So now maybe you can plan your meals a little wiser and be conscious of what is going into your body. Learning the different kinds of foods and how they will improve your health may make you think twice about what you put into your body.
So let's plan accordingly. Because we all want to live long, happy, healthy lives...on our own two feet...
Until the next step bloggers...