The fastest way to lose weight is to exercise more. This is by far the healthiest way to tone up and shrink your waistline. The problem is that some of you cannot work out, or your gym is closed, or you don’t feel well enough to due to some health issue, or injury.
So if you’re more sedentary than you used to be, and the pounds are piling up, then the next best thing is to eat smaller portions at each meal. Try cutting back on your portions by 10% each meal until you’re eating a healthy amount, and no longer over-eating. Over time, this will be extraordinarily helpful. But wean yourself, don’t cut back cold-turkey or you’ll give up right away.
Also, try closing your kitchen earlier (like at 7pm instead of 10pm). Some kitchens including mine were open 24/7 and I’d find myself making eggs at 3 in the morning, or my other favorite almond butter and jelly, usually around 4 or 5am. Then I’d go back to sleep. Embarrassed to even tell you that, but I’m just like you and I’m not ashamed.
2020 was a hard year for everyone. Close your kitchen at a reasonable hour, around 7pm. Adhere to these hours strictly, and with as much will power as you can! Another obvious but difficult thing to do is to NOT eat when you are stressed or upset. This is easier said than done. Turn off the news, and get off social media. That will help you to be less upset and stressed.
Thermogenesis is a metabolic process your body initiates in an effort to create heat and this is done by burning more calories. The more you burn, the better your weight management is. Lipolysis refers to burning of fat. Satiety refers to how full you feel. All of these things contribute to weight loss! Certain foods and beverages, and even essential oils can complement one another and assist in your efforts to control weight.
Here are the specific things you can do to help yourself:
There are some calorie-burning shortcuts and tricks you can do:
1. Peppermint Essential Oil.
This is such an easy thing to do – just sniff peppermint (or even spearmint) essential oil every 2 or 3 hours. Researchers have proven that certain scents will make your mouth water, and others actually suppress appetite. A long time ago, there was a study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every 2 hours lost approximately 5 pounds per month because they ate less. We also know that drinking peppermint tea makes us feel satisfied and full so we eat less. But the best trick is that peppermint essential oil because it reduces cravings and suppresses appetite – you can carry a little bottle of it in your handbag or keep it on your desk while working (or diffuse it).
2. Rooibos Tea.
With dinner, you can have a small cup of rooibos tea (hot or col). This is naturally un-caffeinated, and the herb contains “aspalathin” which reduces cortisol. In doing so, rooibos can burn a little belly fat because it’s reducing stress hormones which otherwise trigger hunger and storage of fat. Rooibos is great for circulation and blood flow too.
3. Green tea 🍵
So easy you can drink this or take supplements. I make a batch of matcha tea every few days and put it in a big glass jar in the fridge. Make sure it’s organic. Try to resist putting sugar in it because you’ll defeat the purpose. A little honey or Bee Free Honee, or maple syrup is okay, but definitely don’t put a lot of white sugar!
Many studies show that green tea burn more fat than normal. We know that catechins and caffeine (found in green tea) serve to activate the sympathetic nervous system which makes you feel less hungry, burns fat and calories. Researchers usually see this effect within 2 or 3 months and even though not all the studies concur, the fact is green tea (black tea, coffee and other caffeinated beverages) all have a thermogenic effect. Luckily, this is also a strong immune-booster in case you are worried about cold/flu or covid. Matcha tea has a much stronger benefit because it is not an infusion of the tea leaves like green tea… it is the actual tea leaves themselves that are crushed to make the matcha!
4. Hot peppers 🌶️
Mmm, I love spicy food! So much so I have to follow the hot spicy mayo with a Pepcid!!! Anyway, spicy food does more than make your eyes tear up! It helps the body burn calories due to the heat-forming compound called “capsaicin.” That’s the substance in chili peppers that causes the zing. Applied topically, capsaicin creams helps a little bit with nerve pain, although you have to be incredibly careful when you apply the creams, and do it chronically. If you’re interested in nerve pain (and how capsaicin can help), CLICK HERE to read my other article, How Chili Relieves Diabetic Neuropathy and Nerve Pain.
As to it’s fat-burning properties… if you do not have heartburn, then adding a little heat to your food is thought to keep you thin and healthier while improving blood flow to the heart. But obviously, not everyone can tolerate “heat” so eat this with discretion! Taken internally in the form of spice (cayenne), or added to eggs or guacamole, I think chilis provide just enough capsaicin to turn on your thermogenesis switch!
If you break into a sweat while eating hot and spicy barbecue sauce or green curry, don’t feel to socially awkward, just explain you’re upregulating your metabolism! Put a shake or two of some cayenne in egg salad, soups, scrambled eggs, salsa, guacamole or your morning carrot juice.
5. Turmeric 🍛
Turmeric is a woody root that’s bright yellow on the inside and is a key component of curry powder. You can buy organic powdered spice, and start using it in your everyday cooking. Taking it regularly can reduce your need for pain relievers if you suffer from chronic pain, joint concerns or other minor aches/pains.
According to an animal study from Tufts, when mice were put on a high-fat diet, plus turmeric, they did not gain as much weight as the other rodents. Plus they had reduced cholesterol and fatty livers. You can add turmeric spice to pretty much any recipe including desserts like Golden Milk.
It’s a hot beverage that is very popular in India.
Cinnamon can support healthy blood sugar levels by acting like insulin. It helps insulin shuttle blood sugar out of the blood, and into the cells where it belongs. So when they measure your blood sugar levels, there’s less sugar floating around in it (because the cinnamon and insulin drove it inside the cell). This is why supplements often contain a little cinnamon. You can spice up your coffee, banana bread and other recipes with cinnamon to get this effect. The point is when your blood sugar is more balanced, you have less crave, you eat less and there is less inflammation in the body. This translates to a thinner, healthier you!
Remember, the lower your blood sugar, the less insulin you’ll release. Through a complex signaling cascade, your cells get the ‘signal’ or the cue to STOP storing food as fat everywhere. That’s a good thing. I wrote an important book on this topic. So useful was this body of work, that it was used (and I think it is still used) in classrooms around the world to teach medical doctors about certain aspects of fat-burning! Get it here: Diabetes Without Drugs.
Cinnamon is also thermogenic, in addition to being useful at reducing blood sugar.
7. Apple cider vinegar. 🍎
Apple cider vinegar has been regarded as a digestive stimulant for centuries. In 2009, researchers found that acetic acid, the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar, promotes the production of fat-burning enzymes in the livers of mice. And being able to burn fat for energy is the best way to get rid of any excess fat deposits you’re toting around. I advise against drinking it straight because it is very acidic and can damage your tooth enamel and esophagus. It always has to be diluted in something, even water. You can also use it to make salad dressing, or dilute a teaspoon (or up to a tablespoon) in a few cups of water and boom… down the hatch! My ‘bookface’ mom drinks it that exact way, to this day.
Grapefruit is a great source of pectin, a soluble fiber that binds to glucose so the sugar doesn’t get absorbed in to your bloodstream. And remember, managing your blood sugar levels means lower insulin, which translates to less fat stored in your cells. Also, grapefruit appears to have its very own special powers when it comes to promoting weight loss.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that obese people who went on a low-calorie diet and either ate half a grapefruit, drank a seven-ounce glass of grapefruit juice or took a grapefruit capsule before every meal for 12 weeks lost significantly more weight than study participants who merely followed the diet (without any grapefruit whatsoever).
A great thing about grapefruit is that it can stay fresh in your produce drawer for weeks, so stock up when they’re on sale and enjoy half a grapefruit before meals or in place of a snack. Hey, you could also sprinkle some cinnamon on top of it and get a double thermogenic whammy. The only thing I ask is that you check grapefruit’s interaction with your medication. There are compounds in grapefruit and other citrus fruits that impact the levels of many medications and can dangerously spike them, so ask your local pharmacist or doctor, or look it up. Here’s an article I wrote on grapefruit and medication.
9. Coconut Oil 🌴
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, which is unusual for an edible oil, most of which have long chain fatty acids. Coconut oil’s molecular structure makes it uniquely able to bypass the digestive process (where its calories could be stored as fat) and go straight to the liver where it can be used for fuel. So coconut oil isn’t thermogenic because it increases calorie-burning per se, but rather because it doesn’t contribute to fat, and it could replace bad fats in your diet.
You can eat a tablespoon of organic coconut oil every day. It’s easy, you can just sauté your veggies in it instead of olive oil for example. Some people eat it straight off the spoon, others stir it into their morning coffee or tea which I have tried and find palatable. I love to make healthy chocolate candies with it sometimes. I combine a cup of melted coconut oil with a cup of raw cacao powder and a quarter cup of coconut milk (for creaminess). Then I sweeten the mixture with stevia, or unrefined cane sugar and I stir in some chopped up nuts, cinnamon or shaved coconut flakes. You can pour everything into a silicone candy mold and pop it into the fridge where it will harden into chocolate treats. It’s a satisfying sweet treat without a strong sugar hit and it has plenty of good, fat-burning coconut oil!
10. Hang a Picture.
If you’re trying your best to lose weight, but stress eating is dragging you down, then try hanging a picture of yourself at your desired weight (maybe it was 3 years ago, maybe 30 years ago), on the fridge or cabinet door. Every time you go to grab something to eat (when you’re not even hungry) you will be reminded of your goal. This might not work every time, but if it stops you from snacking 2 out of 5 times a day, times 30 days that means you will have dramatically reduced snacking by about 60 times that month! It may sound silly, but I think it’s a great little trick to try and one that will help you keep your eye on the prize.