13 comfort foods to boost weight loss – They're called "comfort" foods for a reason -- they bring back warm memories, tickle your taste buds, and soothe your soul. Though some comfort foods are deep-fried, covered in cheese, or packed with sugar, some can actually help you lose weight. Beat the battle of the bulge with the following cozy eats.
Hot chocolate – Cocoa is packed with antioxidants, which reduce your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that causes your body to cling to belly fat, says Tara Gidus, a nutritionist based in Winter Park, Florida. In fact, one Cornell University study found that the concentration of antioxidants in hot chocolate is up to five times greater than it is in black tea.
Hot chocolate's combination of carbs and protein can also help your muscles recover faster from a tough workout, according to research in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Adding a dash of cinnamon boosts your treat's health benefits even more -- it contains compounds that keep insulin out of the blood stream and from storing fat, says Gidus.
Collard greens – A single serving of this hearty veggie adds up to a mere 46 calories. A serving also packs more than your daily-recommended doses of vitamins A and K, which can strengthen your immune system for a healthy metabolism, says Jonny Bowden, a nutritionist and the author of "The 150 Healthiest Comfort Foods on Earth."
Plus, a cup of collard greens contain 7.6 grams of belly-filling fiber. Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that eating fiber-rich foods can lower your body's absorption of calories from carbs.
Chicken noodle soup – "People who eat a broth- or vegetable-based soup before their meal consume fewer calories overall," says Rania Batayneh, nutritionist and author of "The One One One Diet." "The water in the soup helps fill you up and boosts satiety, and just the act of eating soup helps slow your eating down so that your body has time to notice feelings of fullness."
One Penn State study found that people who ate soup before digging into their entrees reduced their total calorie intake by 20%. Plus, chicken noodle varieties pack the protein, vitamins, and fiber you need to rev your metabolism even after your meal.
Coffee – Your old friend joe can boost more than your mood. It can also boost your metabolism, thanks to a healthy dose of the antioxidant chlorogenic acid (CGA), which increases your body's use of fat for energy, Bowden says. Research has also shown that the chemical compound can slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal while lowering insulin resistance to prevent weight gain.
Opt for the strong stuff: Several recent studies have found that caffeine in small doses before exercise can improve performance and help your muscles recover in record time.