Fat Burners: Can Certain Foods Really Make You Slim?

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.

Vinegar is acidic, so it can be irritating to the mouth, throat, and stomach if ingested in too high a quantity. But it has its benefits. Vinegar is thought to help slow the rise in blood glucose after a meal (essentially lowering the glycemic index of a meal), and it may also help with blood pressure control.

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.

Spicy Foods
Do you love hot, spicy dishes? Is Tabasco sauce one of your must-have condiments? If so, you may be in luck — with regard to your metabolism, that is. Some studies show that eating foods seasoned with chili pepper or black pepper can boost metabolism by up to 23%.

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.

Green Tea
Green tea has received a lot of press over the past few years, particularly in the realm of helping to fight heart disease and some types of cancer. Green tea is rich in certain polyphenols (types of antioxidants) called catechins that have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

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.

OK, eggs don’t have magical fat-burning properties (although, to be honest, not many foods actually do!). But a study published last year in the International Journal of Obesity showed that men and women who ate two eggs for breakfast (as part of a lower-calorie diet) lost 65% more weight and had a 34% greater reduction in their waist circumference than men and women who ate a bagel for breakfast. The secret? Eggs very likely increased satiety (a feeling of fullness) so that folks ended up eating less. I’ve mentioned eggs in previous postings — they can be part of pretty much anyone’s eating plan.

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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  • Erik

    Great information. I am currently enjoying a boiled egg with vinegar and tabasco with a cup of green tea and my pants are feeling looser. OK, not quite but these are easy ideas to incorporate into a lifestyle diet that might provide just a little extra help. Thanks for the info.

  • Kathryn

    My husband started drinking a mixture of V-8 juice mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of cayanne pepper and lowered his blood pressure almost 40 points as a result. I tried it and it kicked up my acid reflux and had to stop but he swears by its benefits. We drink green tea…the other ideas are interesting and I may try and incorporate some of them into our eating plans.

  • acampbell

    Thanks, Erik. And you never know — maybe the combination of vinegar, Tabasco sauce, eggs, and green tea is the secret to slimming down!

  • Jimmy T

    The liquid ingredient of hot sauce is usually vinegar, everybody. Double Score!

  • Elizabeth

    Regarding vinegar: My brother in law eats vinegar based / accented foods everyday and he is thin as a rail. His diet rarely contains anything with a cream base. If given a choice, he chooses vinegar based dressings, never eats mayo etc.

  • fred lapides

    A fairly reliable method to lose weight:
    stop eating so much, cut sizer of portions, eat healthy foods and avoid the fat-making stuff–breads, cakes and you know the rest.

    and then exercise, exercise, exercise
    You don;t need all the other stuff, though it may be helpful.
    Note how in many European nations, fat is not the problem it is in America. Why?

  • d

    Why do you mention eggs specifically for their ability to keep you feeling full for longer? Surely the point is that plenty of protein at breakfast will have that effect, and many foods are full of luvverly protein.

    In the same way, if the essential point about vinegar is its acidity, why not use lemon juice and get a good dose of vitamin C at the same time?

    Fred, if by “fat” you mean obesity, here in England rising obesity levels are a big problem (I blame the car, making people frightened to use the roads and therefore getting less exercise): if you mean grease in food, remember that the US has a very meat based diet, even with added fat, such as you have in hamburgers.

  • acampbell

    Hi d,

    I mentioned eggs and vinegar because these are the two foods that researchers used in their respective studies. One might be able to extrapolate that other sources of protein, for example, would have a similar effect on satiety. The issue is that eggs (when not fried in butter or bacon grease!) are a relatively lean protein food, and other, traditional breakfast foods can be higher in fat, so one needs to choose wisely. In the case of vinegar and glycemic index, lemon juice can also lower the glycemic index of a food, since it’s an acid. But lemon juice doesn’t contain acetic acid — this is in vinegar, and again, is what the Japanese scientists used in their study.

  • tired of the food scams

    Eggs fried in butter are fine, acampbell. Bacon is fine as long as its not loaded with nitrates. Stop blaming fat on fat.

  • acampbell

    Hi tired of the food scams,

    Butter and bacon are two foods that are high in saturated fat. Fat-burning issues aside, there’s an established link (not a “food scam”) between saturated fat and heart disease. Eggs are fine, although I wouldn’t recommend cooking them in butter or bacon fat, for that matter. And even bacon, in moderation, is fine, too.

  • Elect Lado’

    everything you said was true you can purchase vinegar pills and Yaba Mata green tea increase the metab. and egg whites are a fat burner! those are considered secrets!

  • Andy

    I use an oster egg boiler to boil up 5 medium cooked eggs, I eat about one yolk and 5 egg whites. Keeps me full longer and I dont feel as tired like I did with the Kashi flax cereal

  • ecip

    Did you not notice the correlation between consuming 8 glasses of water per day and drinking 7-8 cups of green tea.

    Agreed, Green Tea has strong anti-oxidant properties.

    It is also 99% water. Water has been proven to increase weight loss as the body will store water when not enough is consumed. Drinking eight to ten cups of tea, or water, or other fluid not poisoned with artificial sweeteners, flavor enhancers, preservatives, etc., WILL contribute to weight loss, as the body will regulate itself much more effectively, (including a much more efficient digestive tract).

    Drinking large amounts of high calorie sodas, bottled juices and energy drinks, while adding liquid to the body also impact blood sugar levels, as well as huge amounts of calories and artificial toxins.

    Drinking 60-100 ounces of plain water to your diet will change your body, if consumed with nutritious foods (a whole different subject) and moderate exercise.

  • Sharon

    look at askapatient.com at all your prescription meds. Requip causes most patients at 30-40 lbs weight gain in just a few months. It causes uncontrollable hunger. Many prescription meds have this side effect. Check it out.
    I am now of mirapex and the hunger is gone. Its wonderful.
    A lot of times there is a side effect to prescription or over-the-counter meds that the dr and drug companies don’t mention or down-play. Askapatient.com is honest. If enough people complain, its probably a bad idea.

  • Matt

    Yeah you obviously don’t have your facts straight. Butter and fat is not the cause of obesity its all the preservatives and empty carbs that make us fat. Butter actually has certain things in it that help fight cancer and butter actually helps raise testosterone. The diets in some cultures around the world consist of meat, butter, milk, and animal blood. Studies show that their risk of heart decease and diabtetes are slim to none and all they eat is foods high in saturated fat cholesterol. Saturated fat was never proven to have any link to heart disease. Face it, what makes most of America fat is pure laziness. Scientists have dug up skeletons of “cave men” i guess you could say and they were very tall and had perfect bones and teeth. All they eat was hunted game, and some fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds. It wasn’t until farming and agriculture started that we became shorter and fatter. Wheat and grains arent part of our biology and the only animals that live good off of grains are birds. Dont get me wrong whole grains are good for you in moderation but they are what make you fat. Your body wants protein and calcium to grow. If you have to eat carbs, try eating them in the morning or before a workout and dont have them in your last two meals of the day. A good breakfast would be 1/2 cup of Quick oats(quaker) with 3/4 cup of 2% milk in the microwave for 3min. And sweeten it up with a tbsp of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I sometimes have my oatmeal with Half of a banana sliced and a handful of blueberries. When shopping, avoid anything with ose in it because its usually sugar. And also beware of malodextrin because it spikes your glucose levels up alot and can slow your metabolism down.

  • Jake

    Here a question:

    If you are taking a fat burner, before which two meals should you take it? Should it be breakfast and lunch, breakfast and dinner, or lunch and dinner? I understand that you don’t have to take one to slim down, but it is an all natural supplement that helps a lot.

  • acampbell

    Hi Matt,

    Actually, I DO have my facts straight. There are many causes of obesity; it’s a complex disease. We do know that consuming too many calories (and likewise, not burning off enough calories) can lead to weight gain. Granted, one can take in too many calories from any food. Fat in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s an essential nutrient and we need it. But it’s a concentrated source of calories, so it makes sense to cut back on fat somewhat in order to lose weight. Unfortunately, you’re right about the American lifestyle — we’re not active enough, so that the food we eat isn’t efficiently used for energy, which can lead to weight gain. So, I don’t think we can point to any one “cause” of obesity. If we could, we may have a “cure” for it by now!

  • acampbell

    Hi Jake,

    Are you referring to a particular type of supplement? What I mentioned in my posting were “food” fat burners (vinegar, spicy foods, eggs, etc.). To my knowledge, there aren’t any supplements that have been proven to burn fat.

  • Jake

    That is true, fat burning supplements have never been proven to work. I just wanted to ask what 2 meals would you actually take them. For what you posted, I shoot to try and eat as much green vegetables as possible. Brocoli, spinach, green beans, and green peppers. Most vegetables though will give you the nutrients your body needs. Nuts also seem like a good thing to eat that will burn fat. Almonds seems to be my favorite. Eat small meals and space them out 3 hours in between. 5-6 times a day you should eat, this will keep your metabloism going full force. Drink a lot of water and avoid any drinks with sugar.

  • acampbell

    Hi Jake,

    Based on the foods that I mentioned, above, I’m not so sure it makes a big difference as to when you would eat them. Vinegar and spicey foods are probably more often eaten at lunch and dinner, but there’s no harm in eating them at breakfast. Seeing as how metabolism may slow down a bit as the day wears on, perhaps you’d want to try “fat burner foods” later in the day.

  • anon

    i lost over 30 pounds while on hydroxycut but i also walked for 1 hr 3 days a week and it works in supressing the appetite as well i stopped drinking soda i lost over 30 pounds when i walk i drink coffee with caffine to increase calorie burning or take excedrine and it works very well it doesn’t matter what you it it matters how you eat it if you eat too much of something or too little 6 small meals a day is best if you eat large meals even 1 large meal a day you will slow your matablism people who want to lose weight need to focus on reving up their matablism ever hear of the phrase i feel like a fat girl in a skinny girls body? thsts because people who have the luxury of saying that have a high matablism if you don’t drink water everyday toxins will build up in your body and settle in your muscles which will slow your matablism and make your body toxic water is not only for a healthy diet it helps your body function properly if you don’t drink enough wayer your liver will not be able to process the ecess toxins and hand it’s job over to your kidneys then your liver and kidneys don’t process anything properly there for you gain weight instead of losing it water is more important then you know

  • chaos

    The problem we are faced with today, is the hectic lifestyle and the way in which people ignore the importance of balance. We are all leading un balanced lives chasing money, promotions, and trying our best to keep up with others. We have forgotten the value in life. Our diets are influenced by multi billion dollar add campaigns that target the youth by way of comparing us to models, sportsman etc.

    We should understand the basics, and empower our youth, our children, by setting examples.

    How can we positively influence our children, when alcohol, drugs and big business say otherwise, all in the name of making more money….

  • shontina green

    I have tried all types of diets and pills. Some have worked and some haven’t. The one thing thats helping me now is herbal life…2 shakes a day and one meal. I have lost 40lbs in 2 & 1/2 months. I love it. At first it took me awhile to committ. I was up & down one shake and 3 meals. I finally discipline my self and got it together and I feel great!

  • keli

    i love all those little tid bits. they actually help. im actually trying a raw food diet right now and its really hard to stay away from the chicken and meat in particular.