Photo: Quiksilver

Photo: Quiksilver

As paddlers, we all want to be fit— and have that reflect on the outside— but for many, that requires a lot of exercise in conjunction with a diet stricter than most prefer. While it’s not always easy to consistently eat healthy, there are plenty of foods that can give your body a boost in the fat-burning department if included in a balanced diet. The following foods not only give your body a kick-start with fat-burning, but they’re all packed with additional health benefits, are easy to include in a daily diet, and are pretty tasty, too. —SC

Whole Grains: People are weary about gaining weight from carbs, but your body needs them as part of a balanced diet and more so if you’re an active person. Whole grains are the type of carbohydrates to look for because they help prevent the body from storing fat. They’re also packed with fiber, which causes you to feel full longer because the whole grains take longer to break down. Other benefits of whole grains are that they reduce chances of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels, are high in protein (compared to other grains), and contain vitamins B and E, as well as iron, and magnesium. Whole grains include brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, wild rice, whole wheat, barley, whole rye, and popcorn.

Green Tea: The Chinese turned us on to the great green drink they’ve been using for centuries as an aid for everything from detoxing to digestion and diseases. Green tea is great at promoting the burning of fat in the abdominal region because it contains high levels of EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), a powerful antioxidant (which is also found in apples, red wine, and chocolate) that has been found to increase the metabolism. Green tea also has the potential to help stave off cancer, lowers cholesterol and fights gum disease, so next time you have the choice, go for the green.

Fish: This meat is a lean protein that helps promote the building of muscle, which increases fat-burning. White fish, in particular, are actually lower in fat than any other type of animal protein. Certain types of fish that are high in Omega-3 fats, like salmon, mackerel and tuna, will help promote fat loss because they contain the “good” fats, which are also responsible for lowering the risk of heart disease, and help the brain’s ability to learn and concentrate. Even better, fish also contains leptin, a hormone that helps balance appetite and the metabolism. Fish may also reduce inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. If you’re not into eating fish, opt for some fish oil capsules.

Chili Peppers: If you like spicy, you’re in luck because hot peppers contain capsaicin, the compound responsible for causing that burning sensation, which also boosts the body’s potential for fat-burning. As your body heats up while eating peppers, the metabolism also gets a kick, causing some additional calories to be melted. Chili peppers also help fight inflammation, have cardiovascular benefits, clear congestion, boost immunity, and lower your risk of type 2 Diabetes. An easy way to add some spice to your next meal: crushed red pepper, hot sauce (the good stuff) or super spicy salsa.

Beans and Legumes: Typically, beans and legumes aren’t what come to mind when you think of foods that promote fat-burning, but the versatile foods are high in protein and fiber, which not only trigger fullness, but also keep you full longer. Because they’re high in fiber, beans and legumes also help to regulate digestion; they’re even packed with magnesium, zinc, potassium and antioxidants. Eat beans and legumes cold or hot, and throw them into dips, soups, salads, or tacos for some extra flavor and health benefits.

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