Fat-Fighting Foods

You’ve probably heard about green tea. Claims about the benefits of green tea range from helping you to sleep to increasing metabolism to helping improve your mood. There is a basis for the metabolism claim — catechins. Catechins is a plant chemical that boosts your metabolism. To enjoy the fat-fighting benefits of green tea, drink several cups of hot tea each day. Replace your regular soda or coffee with cream and sugar with a cup of hot green tea. You will enjoy the benefits of catechins metabolism boost while cutting out extra calories from sodas and coffee additives. Hot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which briefly boosts your metabolism and curbs your appetite. You might eat less when you eat spicy foods.

Grapefruit does not have a magic ingredient despite the fad diet claims from a few years ago. Grapefruit does contain plenty of soluble fiber, which takes longer to digest and may help you feel fuller longer. Raw fruits and vegetables of all kinds help you feel fuller longer and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Raw vegetables and fruits are generally low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with nutrients your body needs. Trade potato chips and other calorie loaded snack foods for a plate of raw vegetables.

Use spices in your foods to boost flavor without added calories. Cinnamon helps to curb your appetite and may stabilize your blood sugar. Stir some cinnamon into coffee, tea, yogurt and milk drinks.

Get Rid of Back Fat

Photo Credit: Krestavilis PD
Fat can be deposited anywhere on your body. For many people, especially women, fat deposits on the back are a problem. Wearing a bra can cause back fat to bulge above and below the bra. A successful weight loss plan must include a low-fat, low-sugar, nutritious diet combined with regular exercise. It is almost impossible to “spot” train your body to lose fat in only one place, like the belly or the back. However, you can and should focus on exercises that burn fat while working specific muscle groups for a more lean and toned body. Start by being more active generally. Walk more, ride a bicycle, take the stairs instead of the elevator and adopt a healthier diet. Then try some exercises that target the muscles of the back to help reduce fat on your back.
Lower back extensions stretch the muscles of your lower back and help to strengthen your back muscles for better posture and balance. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Stretch your body out straight. Place your hands on the floor palms down beside your hips. Breathe in and lift your chest off the floor. Keep your face pointed toward the floor during the exercise. Lift your chest as high as possible and hold the position for 5 seconds. Relax and lower your chest back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions of this exercise. When you feel stronger, try lifting your legs and chest at the same time. 

The bridge exercise will stretch all the muscles of your back, your abdomen and your thighs. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your palms on the floor beside your hips. Breathe in and squeeze your abdominal muscles. Lift your hips toward the ceiling as far as you can. Keep your shoulders and hands on the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then breathe out as your lower your body back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions. 

Dump the Saddlebags

Photo Credit: Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute PD
Saddlebags are those pouches of fat that accumulate on the outer thighs. Women are particularly susceptible to fat deposits on the thighs. The best ways to dump the saddlebags are to eat nutritious, low-fat foods and exercise. Cardiovascular exercises, such as swimming, running, brisk walking or jogging and bicycling, help burn fat. There are also some exercises that you can do right at home to help burn away the saddlebags. When you exercise to get rid of hip and thigh fat, you can lose weight overall while building muscle. 
Do some step-ups on a low step stool or a step  aerobics stool. Stand in front of the stool with your arms relaxed at your side. Step up onto the stool leading with your right foot and then bring your left foot up beside your right foot. Step down onto the floor with your right foot and follow with your left. Repeat 10 to 15 times and then switch to leading with your left foot. Add some extra calorie burning to your step-ups by holding a 5 pound dumbbell in each hand. If you don’t have a set of dumbbells, hold a 1/2 gallon container of water in each hand. Use a container with a sturdy handle. 
Side leg raises work the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and abdomen. Hold the back of a sturdy chair and stand up straight. Place your feet about hip-width apart. Drop your shoulders and stretch your spine upward. Lift your right leg upward in front of your body. Keep your leg as straight as you can and then stretch your right leg out to the right of your body. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds and then slowly return your leg back to the floor. Do 15 repetitions with each leg. 
Lie on your left side with your left leg on top of your right leg. Rest your left forearm on the floor to support your upper body and place your right hand on the floor in front of your torso. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and lift your right leg straight up toward the ceiling. Keep your upper body straight. Hold your leg up for 5 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat 20 times on each side. 
Squats are great for the abs, hips and thighs. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Place your hands comfortably on your hips. Bend your knees to lower your body to a sitting position. Keep your back straight to avoid bending forward. Push your body back upright using your legs. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. 

Fat-Fighting Foods

Fruits and vegetables are not only an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but also help fight body fat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables may also help to reduce your risk of some types of cancers. Substitute fruits and vegetables in place high calorie foods like macaroni and cheese or white flour pastas. Fruits are especially good at helping you to fight fat and lose weight. They are loaded with flavor, fiber and nutrients but low in calories. Fruits can help you feel full, but will not add significantly to your caloric intake. Fruits contain water and fiber that can help you feel more full so that  you eat less. 
Photo Credit: Forest & Kim Starr CC-BY-3.0
Grapefruit is rich in soluble fiber, which takes longer to digest. This helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Grapefruit is low in calories but high in nutrients. Try a glass of grapefruit juice with the pulp before dinner to help you feel fuller before you eat. Watermelon is another fruit that can help you feel fuller. Watermelon contains lots of fiber, plenty of water and is rich in lycopene, an important antioxidant. Pears and apples also contain plenty of natural fiber, nutrients and water. Eat pears and apples with the peels to get extra fiber and more flavor. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which may help curb your appetite and boost your metabolism. People tend to eat less when their food is spicy. Try some hot peppers in your favorite dish for extra flavor and a dose of fat-fighting capsaicin. Several studies indicate that green tea may help stimulate the body to burn fat, especially belly fat. Several compounds in green tea, notably catechins, may stimulate the metabolism to help your body burn fat. Drink 2 to 3 cups of hot green tea every day, especially before a meal. 
There is no magic bullet when it comes to weight loss. A healthy diet combined with exercise is the best way to avoid weight gain and to lose weight. Reduce the amount of calories you eat and get at least 30 minutes of exercise every other day. Walk every day, if you can, and avoid sugary snacks and sodas between meals to help reduce the amount of calories you consume.