April 16th, 2012 by Digestive Detective
To snack or not to snack? Some recommend snacking as a means to keep metabolism "up" while others warn of snacking as a dietary pitfall that simply adds more calories. The truth is, as is so with all aspects of nutrition, it truly depends on the individual. Some people have more efficient carbohydrate metabolism and some greater fat metabolism that tends to lead their bodies to burn one or the other more readily as a fuel source: carb-burners vs. fat burners. Some individuals are more sensitive to swings in their blood sugar patterns and therefore may need to eat more frequently to prevent large drops and spikes in blood glucose levels (and irritability, headaches, decreased energy, etc. that often come along). One thing is certain: it is imperative to stabilize and maintain even blood sugar levels as the large peaks and valleys of blood sugars can inhibit weight loss/maintenance and create insulin resistance.
How do we go beyond this? Besides eating regularly to keep blood glucose in check, how can we enhance fat oxidation? If snacking is part of the strategy, what snacks & foods will not only help regulate blood sugar but also improve thermal effect and our body's own fat-burning capacity? The answer lies in designing specific snacks that contain nutrients proven to boost metabolism and fat oxidation. Here are 5 fat-fighting snacks designed with the following goals:
- Stabilize/regulate blood glucose
- Enhance thermal effect and fat oxidation
- Provide satiety in a quick, convenient snack-form
1. "Fat" Smoothie. You read that right - not a "protein" smoothie, but a "fat" smoothie. Fat is not the foe - refined carbs and sugars are our enemy when attempting to lose weight and optimiaze body composition. While this smoothie contains a good deal of protein, it's the fat that helps regulate blood sugars and provide satiety. The medium chain fatty acids found in the coconut oil have been shown in studies to increase energy expenditure and thermal effect on subjects. In addition, recent studies have shown cinnamon to have an effect on lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity – both essential for weight loss/improved body composition. Incorporating cultured dairy provides a rich source of conjugated linoliec acid (CLA). Studies with animals and humans have shown that CLA has been beneficial in lowering body fat, with even greater improvement in those who combine exercise with dietary intake of CLA.
FAT SMOOTHIE Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 Cup Cultured Plain Kefir or Cultured, Grass-fed Milk
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup organic raspberries (high in fiber)
- 2 tbsp Saigon Cinnamon
- 1 heaping tbsp L-Glutamine powder (L-Glutamine is a an amino acid found abundantly in skeletal muscle and has anecdotally been used to help stave off sugar cravings - coconut oil has also been purported to have the same effect)
- Blend all ingredients in blender until thrroughly mixed (coconut oil although solid at first will melt and blend)
2. Grass-fed Beef Jerky. Quick and convenient, jerky is the snack that reminds you of cowboys and ranch-hands. Maybe those lean, mean cow-poke were onto something? Grass-fed beef is rich in CLA and is a good protein source (protein = satiety). In jerky form, grass-fed beeef becomes the ultimate on-the-go snack for an easy afternoon protein boost. Quality grass-fed beef jerky may be hard to come by in your local supermarket, but here are a couple websites that deliver: American Grassfed Beef , SlantShack Jerky (try the RedRub - cayenne and other spices provide an extra metabolic boost!)
3. Smoked Salmon with Ginger. By now you've probably heard that omega-3 fats are healthy for you - but did you know they can also assist in weight loss? Omega-3’s like those found in wild caught or sockeye salmon encourage the body’s production of leptin. Leptin is a component of the body’s natural weight control process. This vital hormone works to burn fat and suppress the appetite. Ginger aids in digestion and is known to be among a variety of spices (including garlic and cayenne) that are metabolic activators thought to increase metabolism by as much as twenty percent. Try Vital Choice's Smoked Salmon and sprinkle on a pinch of their fresh ginger.
4. Organic Cinnamon Apples. Apples are not only loaded with great nutrients they also come perfectly packaged with pectin. Pectin is a water-soluble complex carbohydrate. Simply put pectin is sort of like a natural gum or gel. When you eat fresh fruits or veggies with pectin the cells absorb it up instead of the fat. Use an apple core or slice up the pieces (if you do so in advance, squeeze a little lemon juice onto the exposed apple to prevent it from browning.) Sprinkle on the cinnamon and again you add to the blood-sugar stabilizing effect. (TIP - Eat the apples with the peels on - that's where a lot of the pectin and fiber is located)
5. "Thin Tea". Having a fat-burning beverage is nice to wash down any of these body-shaping super snacks. This "Thin Tea" combines a number of potent fat-burning ingredients and can be served either hot or cold. Green tea catechins have been shown in research to decrease body fat deposition and reduce weight in subjects. Adding freshly squeezed lemon to this tea further enhances its fat-burning potential: A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that the higher the levels of vitamin C found in adult blood samples, the smaller the waistline of the adult. Vitamin C oxidizes body fat or burns fat which is the theory behind the higher vitamin C levels and slimmer waistlines. Lemons as well as other citrus fruits contain high quantities of vitamin C. Again, we incorporate ginger here for its metabolic-boosting effects. You can purchase quality green tea, fresh lemon, and ground ginger at your local supermarket and mix your own concoction as below, or purchase a tea brand that includes all three ingredients such as Vital Choice's Ginger Lemon Green Tea or Yogi Green Tea Lemon Ginger.
"Thin Tea" Preparation
- Boil 1 cup purified water
- Add organic green tea bag and steep for 5 minutes
- Remove tea bag and squeeze half of a fresh lemon into tea
- Sprinkle ground ginger into tea to taste (1-2 shakes is usually enough as ginger is strong in flavor)
- Mix well and enjoy hot or chill for iced tea