If you can still see the outline of that Christmas fruit cake when you try and squeeze into your bathing suit—you're not alone. As we get older, our metabolic rate slows, making it easier to put on weight over the winter and more difficult to lose it in the summer. Herbs can help to slim down, but not all are safe. Here are six to choose, and three to lose.
Ginseng: This hardy root is an adaptogen. It brings balance to the body, and that can mean a boost in energy and vitality as well as a decreased appetite. It can boost your mood and improve your sleep too—also important for healthy weight.
Spirulina: Technically it's a freshwater algae. It's also loaded with more antioxidants than any other food on Earth! A dense protein source, spirulina can keep you feeling strong and help you to lose those extra pounds.
Green Tea: Compounds in green tea have been clinically proven to curb appetite and increase metabolic rate. Drinking green tea can be beneficial, as well as taking a concentrated form.
Reishi Mushrooms: Considered the "king" of Traditional Chinese Medicine, reishi is a powerful tonic used for treating and preventing a number of health conditions. It will also increase metabolism, reduce blood sugar levels and may boost stamina while helping to detox the body and strengthen immunity.
Cinnamon: This tasty bark has been clinically shown to regulate blood sugar levels, which can contribute to a healthy body weight and reduce cravings for sweets.
Cayenne: The super spicy cayenne pepper can heat up your metabolic rate safely, helping you slim down. Ever notice that you eat really spicy food much more slowly? The heat naturally makes us moderate our food intake, which can allow us to recognize we're full before overeating.
Herbs to Avoid
Ephedra: This herb has been linked to a number of health risks—including death—especially when combined with other stimulants. It's not approved for use in this country, but it’s still available and sometimes marketed as other products that can also be unsafe.
Guarana: This rainforest herb is loaded with caffeine. In concentrated forms it can be more potent than several energy drinks. Too much caffeine can lead to heart attacks, stress on the adrenals and other serious risks.
Herbal Laxatives: Many weight loss products can contain herbs such as senna, rhubarb root and cascara, used to stimulate bowel movements. Many are safe—especially when treating actual constipation—but when used for prolonged periods for weight loss, they can become addictive and harmful.
(Note: always check first with your primary care physician before starting a weight loss program.)
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
image: David Compton