After the year that was 2020, we all wish things could be easier. Let’s be honest, we’re all looking to shed the weight that we’ve gained as a result of the festive season, lockdown restrictions, and rising stress levels thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. What’s more, we’re also looking to lose this weight as quickly as possible – but healthily of course. As such, it’s no wonder so many people often look to quick fixes such as fat burners.

However, we all know that when it comes to losing weight, quick fixes are probably not the best way to go, so are fat burners really worth the risk?

What are fat burners?

Fat burners are supplements that are intended to help the body burn fat by either increasing metabolism, reducing fat absorption, or by helping the body burn more fat for fuel.

Now, while this sounds safe enough, it should be noted that fat burners aren’t regulated by the FDA, and this is most likely why they’ve been found to be so harmful.

What are the dangers of fat burners?

fat burners
Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

In addition to the fact that there seems to be lack of evidence in regards to their efficiency, as well as their safety, there are also a number of other concerns associated with fat burner supplements.

For one, the FDA has identified an emerging trend where dietary supplements contain hidden active ingredients that could be harmful (1). These harmful ingredients include bacterial germs, fillers, pesticides, and other drugs that have even been banned due to them increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke (2).

Additionally, side-effects of fat-burning supplements can include nausea, headaches, anxiety, indigestion, and insomnia.

7 Natural Fat Burners

So with that said, it’s clear that you should probably avoid fat burners in supplement form. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t look towards more natural fat burners. In fact, the seven foods listed below have been found to effectively, and safely, help you burn off that extra fat.

1. Coffee

It’s one of the best ways to start off the day, and it could also be a great way to burn off that fat, thanks to the presence of caffeine which can help boost metabolism, helping the body burn more fat.

coffee
Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, drinking four cups of coffee daily—without cream and sugar—was associated with an approximately 4% reduction in body fat. Co-author of the study Dr. Derrick Johnston Alperet believes that caffeine caused the loss of body fat by increasing the participants’ metabolism.

That said, it should be noted that too much caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety as well as diarrhea. Therefore, if you want to safely enjoy the fat-burning benefits, without the risk of a sleepless night in the bathroom, then it’s best to stick to four cups of coffee and to drink them no earlier than 9:30 am but also no later than 16:00 pm (2).

2. Green Tea

Green tea boasts a number of benefits, and one of them includes helping you manage your weight better.

Matcha green tea is a concentrated powdered green tea from Japan and studies suggest that it can help your body burn fat. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, matcha green tea boosted fat burning during a 30-minute brisk walk.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

We’ve all read about the various benefits of apple cider vinegar, but did you know that it can also help with fat burning?

According to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, in 39 overweight or obese individuals, apple cider vinegar helped to significantly reduce body weight, BMI, hip circumference, and belly fat.

When using apple cider vinegar, it’s important to always dilute it. The best way to consume it would be by diluting 1 teaspoon per day in a glass of water.

Shop for apple cider vinegar online.

cayenne peppers
Photo by Frank Vessia on Unsplash

4. Cayenne Pepper

Are you a fan of spicy food? If not, then you may want to start including more spices in your diet. It turns out that the kick that cayenne pepper provides not only adds some flavor to your food, but it can also help to burn body fat.

Cayenne pepper is high in capsaicin, and this compound is the source of many of the benefits associated with chili peppers. For instance, a study published in the BMC Obesity journal recruited 75 male and female subjects, with ages ranging from 18 to 56 years old.

For the study, researchers randomly assigned either placebo, 2 mg of capsaicinoids (the class of compounds found in peppers), or 4 mg of capsaicinoids dosing for 12 weeks. Following the study, the researchers noticed that after 12 weeks of treatment, body fat was 5.91% lower in the 4 mg subjects than in the placebo subjects.

If you’re not sure how to introduce peppers into your diet, try mixing them into salsa, salad, or even chocolate!

5. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and these fatty acids may help you lose body fat.

According to a 2010 study, participants who took fish oil supplements lost an average of 1.1 pounds of fat. If you’re looking for a delicious fish recipe, try this Mango Teriyaki Salmon With Brown Rice recipe.

blue zones

6. Oolong Tea

While not as popular as white tea or green tea, oolong tea is actually one of the best teas out there for your health – and your weight.

In fact, Japanese researchers recently discovered that drinking two cups of oolong tea every day helps to speed up fat-burning in the body (3).

oolong tea
Photo by pure julia on Unsplash

7. Olive Oil

If there’s one thing that belongs in every pantry in every kitchen, then it’s definitely olive oil. After all, there’s a reason why it’s a staple of the Mediterranean diet.

In regards to fat loss, a 2018 study, done on 41 adult women with excess body fat who either received daily high-fat breakfasts containing 25 mL of soybean oil or extra virgin olive oil over a period of 9 weeks, found that fat loss was ~80% higher in the extra virgin olive oil compared to the control group.

The bottom line

The fact of the matter is that when it comes to weight loss, there’s no quick fix or magic pill that will help you achieve your ideal weight. However, there are foods, and other lifestyle habits that include exercise, that will help you to improve your health, and even shed a few pounds along the way.

References

Alperet, D., Rebello, S.,  Yin-Hao Khoo, E., Tay, Z., et al. (2020). The effect of coffee consumption on insulin sensitivity and other biological risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a randomized placebo-controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 111, Issue 2, Pages 448–458, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz306
Galvão Cândido, F., Xavier Valente, F., da Silva, L. E., Gonçalves Leão Coelho, O., et al. (2018). Consumption of extra virgin olive oil improves body composition and blood pressure in women with excess body fat: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. European journal of nutrition57(7), 2445–2455. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-017-1517-9
Khezri, S., Saidpour, A., Hosseinzadeh, N., Amiri, Z. (2018). Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Functional Foods. 43. 95-102. 10.1016/j.jff.2018.02.003.
Noreen, E.E., Sass, M.J., Crowe, M.L. et al. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 31 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-31
Rogers, J., Urbina, S. L., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Purpura, M., Jäger, R., & Juturu, V. (2018). Capsaicinoids supplementation decreases percent body fat and fat mass: adjustment using covariates in a post hoc analysis. BMC obesity5, 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40608-018-0197-1
Willems MET, Şahin MA, Cook MD. Matcha Green Tea Drinks Enhance Fat Oxidation During Brisk Walking in Females. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 Sep 1;28(5):536-541. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0237. Epub 2018 Jun 19. PMID: 29345213.
Zhang, S. et al., 2020. Subacute Ingestion of Caffeine and Oolong Tea Increases Fat Oxidation without Affecting Energy Expenditure and Sleep Architecture: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded Cross-Over Trial. Nutrients, 12(12), p.3671. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12123671.
Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.