At this point in the year, we’re all craving warmth and sunshine, and it’s natural for us to be dreaming of summer – at least just a little bit. Maybe you’re planning on spending days on the sand or hiking in the mountains, or perhaps exploring the streets of a new city or camping out….everybody has a favorite summer activity in mind right about now. It’s time to get ready!
The physical activities of summer require different things from our bodies than the cold months of winter, when we are indoors more than we might like, and more sedentary than is probably good for us. We’ve been enjoying rich stews and soups, to say nothing of all the holiday comfort food that has been available everywhere we look. Our metabolisms are a bit slower, and we may have gained weight or lost muscle tone during this time. With some dietary adjustments, we can kick it back into high gear and be in great shape to tackle those summer days.
Here are some great foods to fuel your body in preparation for the busy months ahead:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables of the vine get their wide range of vivid colors from substances such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and lycopene. Tomatoes and peppers are rich in these health-protecting nutrients.
- Berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.) are delicious little powerhouses containing antioxidants that prevent cellular damage. An excellent source of fiber, they are also very low in calories.
- Yogurt and other low-fat dairy products are wonderful sources of calcium and protein. Research now suggests that when dairy foods are part of a reduced-calorie diet, they can enhance your weight loss while strengthening your bones and keeping you feeling full and satisfied.
- Spinach, that tasty green, does your metabolism good by giving your body a huge dose of iron. Iron helps to carry the oxygen our muscles need to burn fat, so our muscles can then do that job at a faster rate. Lentils, soybeans, and swiss chard can also be beneficial here.
- The most important metabolism-boosting foods are lean proteins. According to Susan Bowerman, R.D., director of world-wide nutrition and education at Herba-Life, ingesting lean proteins “…is critically important because the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, which is the total calories your body burns at rest in 24 hours.” The best sources of lean protein can be found in both animal and vegetable products, such as shellfish, poultry, edamame, beans, and tempeh.
These are a few of the foods that can help you move into a summer attitude. Fueling your body with foods that are nutrient dense and that will ramp up your metabolism and help you lose any unwanted pounds makes good sense. Pretty soon, you’ll be feeling great and ready for anything!