Summer is just around the corner and you might feel like the pressure is on to look your best in your favorite swimsuit. You may even hear talk of fast diets that help you shed pounds in days, but let’s be honest, there is no quick diet that guarantees you lose and keep the weight off for summers to come. Lasting results come from balanced diet and exercise.
At some point, we all complain about a little fat, but fat plays a significant role in many basic functions in our body. It protects our organs, stores energy, aids cell growth, and supports immune function. What is unhealthy is the excess of fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders. To help prevent fat absorption in the most natural we know, we recommend incorporating some of these foods into your daily diet to increase your body’s energy expenditure.
Capsaicin is an active ingredient found in hot peppers - it’s what makes peppers hot and gives them the burning sensation. According to a 2010 study by the American Chemical Society, capsaicin aids weight loss and prevents fat buildup by triggering certain proteins found in fat (1). The change in proteins helps to break down fat. We recommend adding a dash of chili or cayenne pepper to your next meal to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation.
Brown seaweeds such as Wakame contains a brown pigment called fucoxanthin, known for having many physiological functions, such as antiobesity, anti-inflammatory, and antidiabetes. A study performed on rats showed an increase in the production of UCP1, a protein that increases fat burn. Although there has only been one human study, it appears that fucoxanthin is a promising fat loss agent. Even with the success of the subjects, scientists believe further studies are required to form a conclusion.
Catechin polyphenol such as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a key compound found in green tea. It is responsible for the majority of the therapeutic benefits of green tea. EGCG helps the liver break down and process fat. EGCG can also lower the risk of disorders that contribute to cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and obesity. Most notably, EGCG has been proven to be an antioxidant and anti-cancer compound. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, green tea can be beneficial for your overall health.
Cinnamon contains an aromatic aldehyde called Cinnamaldehyde, which is what gives the spice its odor and flavor. Studies have shown that this chemical compound may help fat cells undergo thermogenesis and burn off lipids in swollen fat cells. A systematic review published in the Annals of Family Medicine concluded that the consumption of cinnamon significantly decreases total cholesterol, triglyceride levels, LDL-C, and levels of fasting blood sugar, and increases in HDL-C levels (2). While cinnamon may provide benefits when added to food and beverages, it should be not be consumed in spoonfuls as it could result in dire consequences (think Cinnamon Challenge).
Studies have shown that eating half a grapefruit before every meal may help you lose weight, due to polyphenolic extracts found in grapefruit which have shown to have a lipolytic effect, causing the body to break down stored fat. Pectin, another component of the fruit, has shown to lower plasma cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. In addition to being a fat burning food, grapefruits are also low in calories. Half a grapefruit is roughly 50 calories and is a good substitute for high-calorie options.
1. American Chemical Society. "New evidence that chili pepper ingredient fights fat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2010.
2. Allen, R. W., et al. “Cinnamon Use in Type 2 Diabetes: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The Annals of Family Medicine, vol. 11, no. 5, 2013, pp. 452–459., doi:10.1370/afm.1517.