When you are trying to lose weight, or to maintain a healthy weight, it’s a good idea to incorporate as many healthy changes into your diet as you can. Foods that burn a few extra calories a day, that calm your appetite and that reduce your stress levels, will over time have significant effects on your weight. And lemon and ginger are two foods that you can add to your diet to help nudge your calorie meter down and your fat burning dial up.
Ginger and lemon are not miracle foods weight loss foods but they will help you to lose weight when you consume them as part of a healthy diet.
Calories In Calories Out Does Matter
A lot of claims have been made over the years that by simply adding this or that superfood or supplement to your diet you can lose substantial amounts of weight with zero changes to your diet. The reality is that none of those claims have ever been remotely true. But by the time the cold hard truth emerges millions of people have already dug into their wallets and handed over their money.
Just this year (2016) a class action lawsuit was filed against Dr Oz and the manufactures of Garcinia Cambogia extract for their misleading and “fraudulent” weight loss claims.
Products like Garcinia Cambogia pop up with regularity and people desperate to lose weight fall for the hype every time. What’s not to love about the idea that we can keep on eating whatever we want, and one little pill or handful of exotic berries will make all of those calories disappear into thin air. Combine that with clever marketing perfected by psychologists and engineered to push every ‘want this, must have it now’ button in the human body and we’re powerless to resist.
Exasperated scientists keep pointing to the enormous body of research that demonstrates that calories in and calories out matter for weight loss. And that there are no safe supplements that can increase calories out. Which leaves calories in, in the driving seat when it comes to weight loss, or at the very least riding shotgun and shouting turn left.
I say that because we can alter our rate of calories out. Just not with overpriced ‘magic’ pills or berries. Regular exercise makes a difference, as does increasing daily energy expenditure by making simple changes like, taking the stairs, turning down the thermostat (when you’re cold your body burns energy to stay warm), being a fidget by tapping feet or pacing instead of sitting still, and parking on the far side of the lot and walking to the building instead of cruising around for 10 minutes to find the spot closest to the door.
Another big difference that you make for calories out comes from increasing your metabolism so that you burn more calories every second of the day, even when you’re sleeping. How do you do that? With muscle. Increasing your lean muscle mass will burn more calories.
And finally for calories out, there are a few foods that can slightly increase your metabolism and ginger is one of them.
Ginger Increases the Thermic Effect Of Food
Research has shown that ginger can increase the thermic effect of the food that you eat. The thermic effect is the number of calories that your body burns just to digest what you have eaten because digestion like every other process in the body requires energy.
When you eat;
- protein around 20-35% of its calories will be burned to process it.
- carbs around 5-15% of its calories will be burned.
- fats around 0-5% of its calories will be used.
If you eat 200 calories of protein, your body will use somewhere between 40 and 70 calories just to process that food. The same 200 calories of carbs will use between 10 and 30 calories for processing. That’s one reason (besides the effect on insulin) why low carb and higher protein diets can help you to lose weight.
Adding ginger to the diet has been shown to add to this thermic effect and burn an extra 42.7 calories a day. That might not seem like many calories but add those up over a week and that’s close to an extra 300 calories each week, or 1200 a month. If you’re following a reduced calorie diet than those 1200 calories add up to an entire day’s worth of food. And you get to ‘lose’ those calories by the simple addition of 2g of ginger powder mixed into hot water once a day.
Ginger Reduces Stress Hormones
Stress hormones, like cortisol, can really throw a spanner in the works of your weight loss efforts. For some people stress has them burning calories like crazy, those people are likely to fit the picture of being thin, strung out and restless.
But since you’re reading an article about weight loss, I’m going to bet that stress doesn’t have that effect on you. For many people stress hormones make the body dial down its metabolic rate, and instead of burning calories effectively it stashes them away as fat. And when you’re stressed, leptin, the messenger that carries the fat burning communications between your fat cells and your brain gets ignored.
That’s how stress makes you eat more. Your brain wants energy to run your body, it can’t get it from the body’s fat stores, so it sends out a hunger signal. Those hunger signals are hard to ignore and for a very good reason. Those signals are designed to keep us alive. It’s not a lack of willpower, that leads to ‘unnecessary’ eating, it’s the insanely strong hunger signal demanding food.
Stress hormones are designed to keep us alive too. They’re very helpful when you need a burst of superhuman energy to flee from an angry bear. But too often in this modern world, our stress episodes aren’t short lived fight-or-flight affairs. Today we are bombarded with stress hormones all day long, because for many people modern life is one big stress fest. Instead of being helpful our stress hormones wreak havoc. They cause weight gain, they cause depression, they cause premature aging and they cause cardiovascular disease, and death.
Stress even turns on receptors in fat cells and causes them to get bigger and to multiply.
Ginger helps to reduce those stress levels and stop them from interfering with your weight loss efforts.
In addition to lowering stress levels, ginger stimulates the release of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine, both of which contribute to an elevated mood and reduce the likelihood of emotional eating.
Ginger’s mood stimulating properties also help to calm an overactive mind and help you to get a good night’s sleep.
Lying in bed with a racing mind that won’t settle down and let you sleep doesn’t just leave you tired and cranky the next day. Lack of sleep takes years off your life and it adds inches to your waistline.
Numerous sleep studies have found a correlation between lack of adequate sleep and obesity.
A review study published in 2013 reported that;
“Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite. Recent epidemiological and laboratory evidence confirm previous findings of an association between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity.”
Ginger Curbs Your Appetite
In addition to increasing the thermic effect of food, researchers have found that consuming ginger increases satiety. Satiety is the feeling of fullness and satisfaction that you get when you’ve eaten a meal. Satiety tells you to stop eating when you’ve had enough.
If satiety levels are increased, then you can put your fork down earlier which leads to lower calorie consumption. And if you’re following a weight loss diet, increased satiety will help you to feel satisfied after eating each meal. Because of this ginger can help you to stick to your diet and make you less likely to snack between meals.
Unlike appetite suppressant supplements, ginger is completely natural and safe.
Studies On Ginger And Weight Loss
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2105 in the European Journal of Nutrition investigated the effects of ginger ( Zingiber officinale) consumption on some metabolic and clinical features of obesity.
Eighty obese women between the ages of 18 and 45 years were assigned to either the ginger supplement or placebo groups. The ginger group received 2 g/day of ginger powder, the placebo group received two 1 g tablets of corn starch daily for 12 weeks.
The results of the study showed that ginger consumption significantly decreased BMI and serum insulin levels. The researchers concluded that 2 g of daily ginger consumption yielded a minor beneficial effect on weight loss and some metabolic features of obesity. They noted that given the lack of data in this area, ongoing clinical trials are needed to further explore ginger’s effectiveness.
Animal studies have found that ginger offers weight loss benefits. Keep in mind that results from animal studies don’t always carry over to humans, but they are generally a good indicator.
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the Science and Food of Agriculture, researchers found that overweight rats who were given a gingerol supplement for 30 days and fed a high fat diet exhibited weight loss and improvements to blood sugar levels and leptin levels compared to the control group.
A 2013 study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences reported that ginger supplementation had as much impact on rat weight loss, as the weight loss medication, Orlistat. Ginger supplementation also caused noteworthy improvements to ‘good’ HDL blood cholesterol levels.
How Lemon Can help You To Lose Weight
Lemon juice doesn’t have any inherent weight loss properties, but it can still help you to lose weight. A significant amount of the calories consumed by most people each day come from liquids. Sugared hot beverages, sodas, milk, energy drinks, fruit juice and alcohol.
These liquid calories are worse than the calories in the foods that you eat. When you eat a couple of hundred extra food calories, you notice it and you tend to compensate by naturally eating less at your next meal. But liquid calories don’t have that effect. You can guzzle hundreds of extra calories and still feel ravenously hungry when mealtime comes around. Liquid calories don’t increase your satiety levels.
Here’s some food (or liquid for thought). If you drink 1 glass of milk and 1 glass of orange juice each day along with a weekly bottle of wine, or one beer a night, that adds up to 150,000 liquid calories over the course of a year.
That’s enough calories to pile on 40 pounds.
Compare that number with the calories you would get from making water your drink of choice.
ZERO calories. No extra pounds.
But water is boring. It’s hard to settle for a glass of water when you’re craving some flavor. That’s where lemon juice can help. One tablespoon of lemon juice contains just 3 calories. And one tablespoon is more than enough to jazz up a glass of water and make it a pleasant flavorful drink. It’s even better with chilled sparkling water, which makes a good alternative to a glass of wine or beer.
Drinking plenty of water is important, it keeps you hydrated which keeps your metabolism functioning properly. If you’re dehydrated, then your ability to burn fat will be impaired. A lot of sodas and energy drinks actually dehydrate you. Check the labels and you’ll find significant amounts of sodium (salt) on the ingredient panel. When your body has too much salt to deal with it gets rid of it by increasing the amount of urine that you produce. So that sugary and salty can of soda can cause you to excrete as much fluid as you just took in.
Water and lemon won’t have that effect. It hydrates you properly.
How To Use Ginger And Lemon To Help You Lose Weight
Ginger comes in a powdered form which is very easy to use or you can buy fresh root ginger.
To use root ginger you just need to trim the skin off and then slice the ginger or grate it. It’s virtually calorie free. Root ginger will keep fresh in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months, if you manage to pick up a bulk amount on sale. Powdered ginger keeps for months in an airtight glass jar.
Lemons can be juiced for fresh lemon juice with the best levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants, or you can use bottled lemon juice which will still have good antioxidant properties. Freezing fresh squeezed juice into ice cube trays and freezing, is a good way to store it.
Ginger and Lemon Tea
These two ingredients have very complimentary flavors so it makes sense to enjoy them together. Ginger and lemon tea can be enjoyed throughout the day, and it’s the perfect drink to warm you up and lift your mood on a cold day.
Use one inch of grated fresh root ginger, or one teaspoon of powdered ginger and mix with 2 cups of boiling water. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. Then strain, add lemon juice to taste and drink. You can heat the tea back up if it’s too cool for you to enjoy, but don’t reboil it. Makes 2 cups.
This is a lovely refreshing drink that makes a good alternative to soda pop.
Grate a one inch cube of ginger, add the juice of two lemons and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add one quart of water and both lemon peels (minus the pulp). Simmer for 5 minutes then allow to cool before drinking.
Alternatively you can boil the lemon juice and ginger, let it cool and then add sparkling water.
Green Tea With Ginger
Ginger really livens up green tea and makes it more enjoyable. Taken together you get the benefits from both of these weight loss aids.
Just brew a cup of green tea and stir in ½ teaspoon of ginger powder. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice too if you like.
Ginger and Lemon Salad Dressing
Juice one lemon and finely grate a half inch cube of ginger, mix together, add to your salad and toss.
Lemon and Hot Water
This is a classic combination that is used as a drink first thing in the morning. Hot lemon water acts as a mild liver detoxifier. When your liver is in peak condition, it can metabolize fat more efficiently.
Ad the juice of half a lemon to one cup of hot water.
Carrot Ginger and Lemon Soup
This is a super filling and very tasty way to get some ginger into your diet.
Serves 4 – 176 calories per serving
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, peeled, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 3 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 small carrot, peeled, grated
- Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 4 minutes.
- Add ginger and garlic then sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add chopped carrots, tomatoes and lemon peel, sauté for 1 minute.
- Add 3 cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes until carrots are very tender.
- Puree soup in batches in blender or use a hand blender to puree in the pot.
- Mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring soup back to a simmer, thin with more stock if it’s too thick.
- Serve in bowls and top with sour cream and grated carrot.
If you’re taking any medications or have bleeding disorders then check with your doctor before you add large amounts of ginger to your diet.