Friday, February 22, 2013

With the faint glimmer of spring break in the horizon, sorority girls all around USC's campus are clamoring for the next big cleanse in order to slim down just in time for "Cabo Season." In sheer panic, girls will reluctantly resort to restrictive diets solely comprised of bland, tasteless "Jenny Craig Approved" plates. 

This widespread propensity isn't restricted to sororities; in fact, these days it's so pervasive even USC's frat boys have desperately subscribed to some form of diet. 

The described scenario simply acts as a mere microcosm for a bigger, more pertinent issue: belly fat. It's stubborn, takes the shape of unsightly "love handles," and is largely unavoidable unless we are genetically gifted or adopt some variation of starvation. 

However, with the help of modern science, there reveals to be a list of delicious, diet-friendly foods that will not only satisfy your palette but your waistline as well. 

1. Avocados: The fruit is rich in glutathione, a substance that helps block intestinal absorption of certain fats. They're rich in monounsaturated fats, which have proven to reduce belly fat. Not only that, but they have a hefty fiber content, helping you feel fuller longer. My advice? Just stick to small portions.

2. Nuts: Also rich in monounsaturated fats, these morsels contain Omega-3 fatty acids, also proving to reduce stubborn belly fat. Not only that, but they are protein-dense, making them a much wiser snack than a bag of chips. My advice? Stick to a handful.

3. Green Tea: Not only does the brew act as a detoxifier, but also it's rich in antioxidants called catechins, which are shown to trigger weight loss by burning extra calories, and, in turn, decreasing body fat.

4. Yogurt: The probiotic cultures in yogurt mix with the bacteria in your colon, making a dramatic influence on your weight, suggests a study by Harvard University. A random sample proved that those who incorporated yogurt into their diets weighed less than those who didn't. My advice? Stick to the less sugary yogurts. You can nix Yoplait from your list. Try Greek yogurt instead.

5. Berries: All berries, including my personal favorites: raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which is shown to combat stress. What does this mean? It means lower cortisol levels. Cortisol, a stress hormone, raises blood glucose, igniting a "fight or flight" response - the body's way of releasing extra energy into the bloodstream when under physical, mental, or emotional stress. When this transpires, fat concentrates around the abdomen, while your appetite is simultaneously monstrous, leading to overeating.

6. Water: This should be obvious. Drinking an adequate amount of water a day will prevent you from becoming parched, which is a similar feeling as hunger. A plethora of studies prove that drinking two glasses of water before a meal drastically cuts the amount of calories consumed.

7. Red Chili Peppers: This fiery food does more than act as a colorful garnish. It contains an antioxidant called capsaicin, which is a proven appetite suppressant and it also speeds up your metabolism.

8. Fish: Not only is fish a lean source of protein, but also they're packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies show that the fatty acids help burn fat, preventing weight gain.

9. Grapefruit: This fiber-rich fruit is full of vitamin C, aiding in weight loss. One study found that people who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank a serving of grapefruit juice 3x a day lost 3.3 pounds.

10. Celery and Fennel: These crunchy snacks are diuretics, helping you loose excess water.

11.  Lean Protein: It's the perfect diet food because it's full of nutrients and keeps you fuller longer because protein takes longer to digest. My advice? Aim for a high-protein breakfast. Try egg whites or low-fat yogurt.

12. Sweet Potatoes: No, I'm not talking about sweet potato fries. Regular sweet potatoes, however, contain a special type of starch that is highly resistant to digestive enzymes, so they take longer to breakdown, delaying the onset of hunger pangs.


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