Cheese, wine, and other ways to slim down at Christmas
Stock up on crackers and grapes and get out that cheese board - apparently, scoffing cheddar and friends could, bizarrely, help you lose weight.
Yes, scientists have long been obsessed with what they call the ‘French paradox puzzle’ (i.e. how come our neighbours across the Channel can gorge on all those amazing cheeses and not get fat?), and think they’ve finally found the reason.
According to a Danish study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, healthy men who ate cheese had more butyrate in their poo, a compound produced by gut bacteria which has been linked to reduced cholesterol.
So, dig out that dusty fondue set and tuck in - along with these other unexpected weight loss-supporting foods.
Earlier this year, resveratrol, a polyphenol or micronutrient found in grapes, was found in a study in the International Journal of Obesity to actively help burn fat.
Professor Min Du, at Washington State University, said: “They convert white fat into beige fat which burns off lipids [fats], helping to keep the body in balance, and prevent obesity and metabolic dysfunction.”
So yes, you can have another glass and not feel quite so guilty about it.
The spice of the festive season, it’s also a secret metabolism booster - particularly helping the body to break down sugar. It reportedly improves the way fat cells respond to insulin, making them process sugar more efficiently. A daily spoonful on your breakfast porridge will help balance out blood sugar levels, making you less likely to reach for your elevenses treats too.
And, if you pop a stick or two in your mulled wine, that can only help!
It gets a lot of bad press due to its links with cholesterol and now the World Health Organisation has announced that red meat is “probably” carcinogenic to humans, while processed meats are now classified as being as carcinogenic as cigarettes, but bear with us on this one. The proteins in red meat will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help to maintain muscle mass, which helps to burn calories. So, while you should go light on the bacon and sausages, and not eat steak for dinner every night, the odd sirloin will sate your hunger for longer.
These bad boys contain capsaicin, the active compound that makes them burn your mouth. A study in the International Journal of Obesity also found that eating chilli peppers “increased satiety and reduced energy and fat intake” - or in other words, make you feel full for longer and stop you eating so much.
Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon might be the taste of summer, not autumn, but they’re packed with nutrients for the very few calories they contain, and all the water in them will help keep you feeling full for longer too - so have some slices with that porridge for the perfect nutritious, filling breakfast.
Obviously, it has to be sugar-free - but people who chewed gum ate an average 68 fewer calories at lunch, according to research from the University of Rhode Island. It also reduced their cravings for fattening treats, and those who chewed were found to burn 5% more calories than non-chewers.
Packed with fibre and protein, these little guys will also keep you fuller for longer, and are great for bulking up winter stews.