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Fat Burners: Can Certain Foods Really Make You Slim?
July 6, 2009
Summer seems to finally be here. June in New England was literally a washout, but the sun came out for the Fourth of July holiday. While it hasn’t exactly been beach weather lately, it hopefully will be very soon. This means, of course, that a person needs to have a “beach-ready” body, right?
Most of us know that losing weight and staying fit (and managing diabetes!) requires a certain measure of discipline to choose the right foods in the right amounts and to stay active on a fairly regular basis. But it’s hard, and temptations sometimes get in the way of good intentions. When’s that magic pill coming?
It may not be here yet, but what about all those “fat-burning” foods we hear and read about? Is there something to them? Let’s find out.
It used to be one of those old wives’ tales — swallow a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before your meals and you’ll rev up your metabolism. Vinegar supposedly helps curb appetite and cut cravings. But until lately, there was no credible research proving any of this.
However, Japanese scientists have found that there may actually be something to vinegar and weight loss: The researchers gave two groups of mice white vinegar (in various concentrations) via a stomach tube and gave another group of mice water. Both groups were fed a high-fat diet. The vinegar-fed mice had 10% less body fat than the water-fed mice. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which may turn on genes that signal the body to break down fat, preventing it from accumulating in body tissue.
Should you take vinegar for weight loss? It’s hard to say. It’s certainly fine to use vinegar as a marinade or in salad dressings. If you decide to try it before meals, dilute it with some water to reduce possible irritation.
When you eat a spicy dish, your body generates more heat, which, in turn, helps burn calories. But unless you eat spicy foods constantly (and maybe you do!), the amount of calories that you actually burn may be negligible. And the effect on metabolism only lasts for about 30 minutes.
However, spicy foods may offer another benefit: making you feel more full. In fact, in one study, men who were fed appetizers seasoned with hot sauce before eating a meal ate about 200 fewer calories than men who didn’t eat the hot sauce. The researchers think that the sauce, which contained capsaicin (the chemical that makes certain peppers hot), helped to blunt their appetites. So, spice up your meals with some red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or even ginger. But be careful if you have heartburn, as these spices may aggravate the condition.
But green tea may do more than fight disease. Some evidence shows that drinking green tea may also help with weight loss. In one study, Japanese men were given oolong tea infused with green tea extract. A control group drank oolong tea without green tea extract. After three months, those who drank the green tea extract lost an average of 5.3 pounds, while those who didn’t drink the extract lost only 2.9 pounds. And in research looking at mice prone to obesity, those who ate food containing green tea extract gained less weight and body fat. It may be that the catechins in the green tea increase thermogenesis, or the burning of calories as body heat. At any rate, if you’re thinking of trying green tea to help with your weight, be prepared to drink between 4 to 7 cups of it each day.
So maybe there aren’t any foods that will melt away the fat. But the foods I’ve mentioned above can certainly be part of an eating plan geared to help you lose and maintain a healthy weight.
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