While calorie reduction remains a must for significant weight loss, certain foods can temporarily increase calorie burning, effectively revving up your metabolism for a short time. Some fare is even associated with lower levels of visceral fat — the kind that sits deep in your abdomen and contributes to belly bulge. Talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet or starting a weight-loss plan.
If you can take the heat, sprinkle crushed red pepper on your pasta or add jalapeno slices to tacos and sandwiches. According to a review of weight loss studies published in the “North American Journal of Medical Sciences” in 2011, people who eat hot peppers are less likely to be obese. What’s more, those who consumed concentrated capsaicin, the “hot” compound in peppers, burned nearly twice as many calories for a brief time after meals. In addition, rats given capsaicin reduced visceral belly fat levels by about one-fourth.
In the same review, researchers looked at data from weight loss trials based on catechin consumption. Catechins are chemicals found in numerous plant foods, and green tea is an especially abundant source. They found that people who consumed catechins burned more fat and reduced body weight faster than those who did not. The researchers concluded that green tea may cause your body to digest less fat from foods — and if you don’t digest it, you won’t store it as body fat. WebMD recommends drinking two to four cups of green tea daily to experience the metabolism-boosting benefits.
Your morning cup of coffee may help slim your waistline, according to Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. She notes that caffeine may increase thermogenesis, meaning your body creates more heat — and producing heat requires energy from calorie burning. Plus, caffeine may temporarily reduce your appetite, potentially helping you avoid overeating. Skip the cream, sugar and flavored syrups, though, or you’ll likely take in more calories than caffeine can help you burn. Green Coffee Bean extract (available in tablet form) has the same effect as a cup of coffee, but alleviates that temptation to add cream and sugar altogether.
Fiber may be an important weapon in your fight against belly fat, according to a study published in “Obesity” in 2012. Researchers discovered that for every 10 grams of soluble fiber consumed per day, participants reduced visceral fat levels by nearly 4 percent over five years. Both soluble and insoluble fiber also add bulk to food without contributing calories, helping you feel full on less. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oatmeal, carrots, beans and citrus fruits. To boost overall fiber intake, eat an assortment of fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as barley and whole-rye bread, or a fiber supplement.
References & Resources
- National Library of Medicine: North American Journal of Medical Sciences: Natural Products and Body Weight Control
- WebMD: Slideshow: 10 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
- MayoClinic.com: Caffeine: Can it Help Me Lose Weight?
- EurekaAlert: Soluble Fiber Strikes a Blow to Belly Fat
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet