Get excited: You can burn calories and combat fat by eating yummy food. "If you choose the right picks, studies show you can torch up to 300 extra calories a day," says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of The Hunger Fix.
Whole, unrefined foods are your heroes. Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed ones, so you're zapping more calories—and storing less as fat. These recipes double up (even triple up) on foods with serious metabolism-boosting power. Take that, dastardly fat!
What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle—and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).
Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.
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Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body's more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.
With up to 50 percent more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.
Go for: At least two servings a day.
For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado's unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado's 14 grams of fiber kicks up your calorie burn.
Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.
High in resistant starch and fiber, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.
Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch—it's also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas—you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24 percent over the course of the day.
Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.
5. Chili peppers
Feel the burn? It's more than mere sensation: chilies' heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.
Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones—habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers—are too fiery for many people.)
6. Green tea
This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.
Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).
You use it to wake up—and your metabolism will, too.
The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilize the forces that burn stored fat.
Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.