There are so many ways to add flavor to meals without using salt, sugar or calorie dense fix-ins. "Seasonings such as cinnamon have great nutrient properties and flavor without added calories. If you're trying to cut back on your weight you might want to try adding cinnamon to your coffee in the morning instead of sweetener," says Jessica Crandall, a Denver-based RD, Certified Diabetes Educator, and National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bonus: Cinnamon is one of 12 D.I.Y. Flavors to Boost Your Coffee at Home!
If you are one of those people who put ketchup on practically everything, it is time to make a healthier, more curated switch. "Sometimes ketchups and tomato sauces have a lot of added sugars in them, so instead try using a tomato paste, which has a lot of nutrients and is lower in sugar. Seasoning it with garlic, pepper and water to thin it out to make your sauce is a good way to make sure you don't have all that added sugar and calories," says Crandall.
Though eating bars of chocolate will not help you achieve your goal weight, working its main ingredient—cocoa—into your diet may help. The flavanols found in cocoa have been found to help lower blood sugar and also decrease body fat according to the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Add raw cocoa powder into oatmeal, baked goods, smoothies and even chili.
Forget the ginger ale—unless it is homemade of course. Fresh ginger root is full of nutrients that can benefit your body and make your weight loss journey much more enjoyable. Ginger is a popular digestive aid and can help relieve gassiness and bloating caused by certain foods and may help your tummy appear a little flatter as a result. Steep your own ginger tea or try grating this flavor-rich, calorie free root over stir-fries, into baked goods or marinades.
Not only can garlic help reduce blood pressure and fight off colds, but this potent herb may also help you lose weight, too. As with all other herbs and spices, garlic is a low-calorie way to pump up the flavor profile of your meals. It can be added to sauces, meats, pasta, bread, stir fries—you name it. For the most nutritional benefits, try to keep fresh garlic cloves on deck and crush them a few minutes before you are ready to cook.
If you haven't caught on to the trend yet, keeping spices handy will make your weight loss and culinary efforts much easier because they add flavor without adding calories. Not to mention, pepper has also been found to be a natural decongestant, so not only will you kick up the taste of your food, but you can kick your sniffles to the curb all in one shot.
Although lemon does not have any magical weight loss powers, using it as a flavor enhancer can certainly help your efforts. Lemon is an easy way to boost the flavor of drinks and dishes without adding any calories. Adding it to water may also encourage you to consume more H20 throughout the day in place of sugary, more artificial drinks, which has been found to assist with weight loss.
The healthiest way to pump up the taste of your meal is by reaching for herbs and spices like cayenne pepper. Not only is cayenne calorie free, but according to a study published in Physiology & Behaviour, consuming cayenne pepper can help curb appetite and encourage your body to burn more calories overall.
When you are focusing on your diet with the intention of losing weight, calcium content likely never comes to mind as a focus. However, research from The Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that diets rich in calcium specifically from dairy products like yogurt yielded more weight loss than simply taking calcium supplements alone. Greek yogurt is also rather high in protein for very few calories and for that reason is great to add to sauces or to use in place of notoriously fatty condiments like sour cream or syrup.
Though this brightly hued spice is traditionally used in curries and mustards, its culinary use and nutritional benefits span far beyond its regular gig. Turmeric can be blended into smoothies, soups, rice and pasta dishes, marinades, eggs, hummus, and bean or lentil side dishes. It not only boosts flavor for zero calories, but this spice has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties to help ease joint pain and stiffness in the body.