While we spend the winter and spring seasons preparing to look our sveltest for summer, that hard work is often squandered by the indulgent vibes of the season. We just don’t understand the point in depriving ourselves of barbecues, ice cream, and frozen margaritas.
These are the food and drinks that actually make hot weather bearable, even if they aren’t the healthiest. However, we recognize that there are people on the other end of the spectrum, dedicated to leaving summer the way they came in. Of course, a moderate balance of healthy eating and exercise is essential, but there are no magic foods that make the journey any easier.
“It’s important to keep in mind that no single food has a magical ability to melt away fat,” says Rachel Daniels, senior director of nutrition at Virtual Health Partners. “But in the context of an overall healthy diet, incorporating the following foods can help to give you a little extra boost.”
See what they are ahead.
Generally speaking, our bodies require a lot more energy to digest proteins than it does to break down carbohydrates or fats. According to Daniels, we burn twice the amount of calories digesting proteins compared with carbohydrates, and ten times more calories compared with fats.
“Protein also helps to fill us up fast and keep us full longer, making it a great choice for weight control across the board,” she says. Grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp, in addition to turkey and lean beef burgers are great seasonal selections and are likely to make an appearance at your summer barbecues.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, a wide variety of beans, as well as spirulina and quinoa, are lean proteins that fit the bill.
Fiber also takes a lot of work to break down, which translates to burning extra calories. It also does a great job of filling us up.
“Summer seasonal choices include berries (which are some of the highest-fiber fruits of all!), veggie-heavy salads, and grilled vegetables,” says Daniels.
It’s no secret that consuming caffeine can give your metabolism a boost, but Daniels recommends being mindful of the way you get your caffeine fix.
“If weight control is your goal, you’ll want to steer clear of sugary sodas, fancy flavored coffee drinks, and regular coffee or tea with a lot of milk and/or sugar added,” she says.
Instead, healthier choices that will also keep you cool for the summer include iced black coffee or green teas.
In the immortal words of the Spice Girls, spice up your life! Some spices can actually help speed up your metabolism.
“Hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which helps to curb appetite and give metabolism a short-term spike. In addition, eating spicy foods helps slow you down while eating, which can help you feel satisfied with smaller portions,” says Daniels.
She recommends heating up your summer dishes with cayenne pepper or Jamaican jerk seasoning (made with Scotch bonnet peppers). You can also add jalapeños to sandwiches, burgers, or homemade guacamole.