After bundling up in your coat, gloves, scarf, and hat all day, you aren’t alone if chilly winter nights are summed up with a mug of hot chocolate and your favorite TV show. But this habit can take a toll on your waistline, and you can warm up without packing on the pounds. Many healthy foods have heat-producing qualities, scientifically known as thermogenic foods.
It’s not a coincidence that the hottest spices are grown in the warmest climates (think hot peppers). In the summer, spicy foods warm your body temperature, causing perspiration, which in turn cools your body when it evaporates. However, during the winter months, the increase in body temperature keeps you toasty. If you aren’t a fan of the heat, peppers aren’t the only healthy foods that keep you warm. Next time you’re feeling chilly, snack on one of our favorite thermogenic foods.
Soup: OK, this one is a no-brainer, but when temperatures drop, a bowl of soup is one of the easiest ways to warm up, and it can also be very healthy. Studies show eating soup before a meal can reduce the amount of calories you consume by 20 percent. Having soup as an appetizer is similar to drinking a glass of water before you eat, which is a common weight loss tactic. The high water content in soup makes you feel full faster. Make sure to choose a broth-based soup, which has significantly less fat than its cream-based counterpart. Bonus if you choose a soup loaded with veggies.
Green Tea: The combination of caffeine and health-boosting flavonoids, specifically the catechin epigallocatechin gallete (EGCG), creates a warming effect. EGCG is found in particularly high amounts in green tea, and some researchers believe green tea is linked to weight loss. Studies have shown green tea drinkers burn calories and oxidize fat faster than those who drink other caffeinated beverages. More research needs to be done to determine if it can significantly benefit your weight loss program, but you can still reap plenty of health benefits like preventing certain cancers and lowering your risk for heart disease. Start your day with a cup of green tea instead of coffee for a less-caffeinated alternative that will you keep warmer during your commute.
Ginger: Ginger may be most famous for aiding digestion and upset stomachs, but it can also rev up your metabolism and increase blood circulation, which gives you a feeling of overall warmth. Give your diet a boost of flavor by adding ginger to your tea, salads, and stir-fries. Try this classic pork with ginger and carrots recipe for a delicious dinner that won’t fail to impress.
Nuts and seeds: The unsaturated, good fats found in nuts and seeds can also help keep your insides warm. Aim to eat at least one serving, which is about a handful, daily to get your dose of omega 3s, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds make the perfect snack when you hit that midday slump. If you have the time, make a trail mix, then separate into single-serving portions for an easy grab-and-go snack.
Whole Grains: Not all carbs are bad. In fact, many carbs can do your body a lot of good. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, corn, and wheat give your body energy, which is used as fuel that keeps you warm on chilly winter days and nights. A diet rich in whole grains is also beneficial for weight loss, providing a good source a fiber and keeping you full.
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