12 Sneaky Ways to Slim Down Your Diet
More Ways to Cut Calories and FatFat trap 7: Skipping a step when you make meat sauce
Ground beef is one of the easiest ways to add protein to your pasta dinner: All you have to do is saut?, season, and serve. But if you're not blotting the meat after it's cooked, you're missing out on a quick way to slash four grams of fat per three-ounce serving, according to scientists from Iowa State University. "This removes excess fat without altering the flavor," says Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, a food and nutrition specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service.
The fix: Drain cooked crumbles on a paper towel–lined plate for one minute, then pat the top with more paper towels. Or go a step further and rinse the beef. Doing so will remove more than half the fat, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Just put the cooked meat in a strainer over a large bowl and pour hot water -- about four cups per pound -- over the top before mixing the beef into your marinara.Fat trap 8: Dicing vegetables into tiny pieces
You've been making oven-baked shoestrings instead of the fried kind -- hooray! But according to a Dutch review of research, switching to steak "fries" could help you cut even more calories. "The more pieces you cut something into, the more surface area there is for the oil to cling to, which equals extra calories and fat," Myrdal Miller says.
The fix: To ease up on the grease, chop potatoes and veggies at least a half inch thick, then pat them dry. Research suggests this helps create a crust that blocks oil from being absorbed by food. Cut calories even further when roasting or baking by using an oil mister to lightly coat the pieces instead of drizzling them with EVOO from the bottle.Fat trap 9: Giving produce a quick rinse
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a dieter's dream, but the pesticide residue on them can keep your calorie-burning machine from performing at its peak. In an International Journal of Obesity study, dieters with the highest levels of pollutants in their bodies had markers of slower metabolism than those with the lowest levels. "Pesticides may affect your thyroid's ability to function," explains lead author Angelo Tremblay, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at Laval University in Canada. And there's evidence that they also harm the functioning of mitochondria, the parts of a cell that convert fuel into energy.
The fix: Government researchers say you need to scrub fresh produce for at least 30 seconds to remove the residue. You can also minimize your exposure by purchasing organic produce, especially the kind with an edible peel, as well as organic beef and dairy products, because regular cattle feed can contain high concentrations of pesticides.Fat trap 10: Sipping Pinot as you prep
When you're adding wine to your risotto, it's tempting to pour yourself a glass. But that aperitif can pack on the pounds in more ways than one. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, sipping the equivalent of two drinks on an empty stomach slows your flab-burning capacity by as much as 73 percent for up to six hours. "Instead of converting fat into fuel, your body uses alcohol for energy," explains study author Marc Hellerstein, MD, PhD, a professor of endocrinology, metabolism, and nutrition at the University of California, San Francisco. And alcohol not only messes with your metabolism, but it also loosens your inhibitions and can encourage you to eat more.
The fix: Wait until you're seated with your meal before you start imbibing. Food slows the absorption of alcohol, which can offset its diet-damaging effects.Fat trap 11: Serving veggies on the side
There's nothing wrong with setting out a dish of steamed broccoli or roasted asparagus, but sneaking them into your main course can boost their benefits. Researchers from Penn State found that people who ate meals that incorporated vegetables -- think chicken casserole with squash and carrots -- consumed 350 fewer calories a day than those who had veggies only as a side dish. The likely explanation: Produce bulks up main dishes and adds filling fiber, so you feel satisfied and take in fewer calories.
The fix: "Experiment with mild-tasting vegetables that aren't overpowering," advises Jessica Shapiro, RD, a dietitian at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. She suggests adding cauliflower puree to macaroni and cheese, diced zucchini to lasagna, and shredded carrots to chicken salad.Fat trap 12: Holding all the fat
Banishing high-cal ingredients, such as cheese and nuts, seems smart. "But fat takes longer to digest than protein and carbs, so it keeps you full longer," Dr. Gerbstadt says. "It also adds flavor, which ups satisfaction." And the benefits extend even further: A study in the journal Health Psychology showed that people produced less of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin after drinking a shake that was labeled "indulgent" rather than an identical one described as "sensible."
The fix: Sprinkle nuts or seeds over your salad or spread pesto on your sandwich. Besides whittling your waistline, you'll also increase your nutrient intake: Purdue University scientists found that just three grams of monounsaturated fat -- the amount in less than a teaspoon of olive oil -- helped the body absorb more cancer-fighting lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2013.
What do you think of this story? Leave a Comment.