Can Certain Foods Really "Burn Fat?"

If you've ever stood in line at a grocery store, chances are you've seen a headline like this before, or at least something like it. Perhaps it was something like "Banish Belly Fat by Eating These 7 Foods" or "This Miracle Food" or "Melt Off the Pounds By Eating This" or "Foods That Melt Abdominal Fat." Sound familiar? Certainly it's enough to peak curiosity. Though some of the declarations aren't backed by science, what most of these claims come down to is the idea of diet-induced thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is a fancy term for burning calories, or creating heat in the body, which translates to increased metabolism. Diet-induced simply means that what we put in our mouths may cause a certain thing to happen. Thus, diet-induced thermogenesis translates to food that helps burn calories.

Whether eating a certain food is going to target belly fat specifically remains to be seen, but if you store excess fat in the belly area and are eating foods that increase thermogenesis in the body, chances are that your belly region will certainly be affected because you have extra fat to burn in that area.

The following list includes foods that have been shown in studies to increase metabolism (thermogenesis) and/or support weight loss (along with a healthy lifestyle):

1. Spices – Cayenne pepper, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic . All of these herbs have demonstrated thermogenic properties, so use them liberally as your go-to flavor enhancers in your favorite meals, dressings, smoothies. Tip: Add a tablespoon each of fresh ginger, fresh turmeric and a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon to a pineapple-coconut smoothie.

2. Green tea – contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful polyphenol (antioxidant), which has been shown (in combination with naturally occurring caffeine in green tea) to boost thermogenesis.

3. Coconut oil – Medium-chain triglycerides, the kind of fat you find in coconut oil, has been shown to increase thermogenesis by up to 50%.

4. Raw Nuts – almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachio nuts, pecans, pine nuts – Nuts don't have as strong a thermogenic specific effect but they do have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system; improving healthy cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and

5. Lean Protein – lean grass-fed meat, poultry, eggs, fish – An elevated protein intake appears to have an effect on increasing thermogenesis as well as increasing satiety (feeling of fullness). Animal based proteins have a greater thermogenic effect compared to plant based protein, however plant based protein has a greater impact on satiety.

6. Chili peppers – Those spicy peppers make you sweat for a reason – they are highly thermogenic. And though it is unreasonable to try and consume a large amount of these spicy peppers, adding a little bit of heat to your favorite cooking sauces and dressings may increase the thermogenesis of your meal.


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