I’ve been buying less meat to save money, and I’d hoped subbing in tofu and beans would help me lose weight. But instead I’ve gained 18 pounds. Why?

Replacing meat (which is rich in zinc) with tofu, beans and grains (which are rich in copper) can cause an imbalance in the body’s zinc-to-copper ratio. The reason that’s a problem: Elevated copper levels inhibit the function of the hormone thyroxine, which can lead to weight gain, anxiety and fatigue. What’s more, if you aren’t getting enough protein, you’re missing out on the 30 percent metabolism boost this nutrient delivers after every meal.

The fix: Eat at least one serving of a protein- and zinc-rich food (like one or two eggs or 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds) daily to rev metabolism and help optimize zinc levels. And take a 25 mg zinc supplement on top of your multi. Your zinc-to-copper ratio should be balanced within four to six weeks, allowing the extra weight to start melting away.

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