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Fat burning foods is another idea that has come to prominence recently – and another one that I am questioning. Can foods really burn fat? Or is it just another of the many ways us humans like to kid ourselves that we can do something that would seem impossible, like eating our way into shape.
I can see why the idea has appeal. If only pizza was a fat burning food, eh? 🙂
Obesity occurs when the amount of calories consumed is greater than the amount used. It’s a simple and fairly mathematical truth. The body will store whatever it doesn’t burn off, as fat. The general theory behind this idea of fat-burning foods is that certain foods are reported to increase metabolism, causing the body to burn off more calories than it is consuming.
Sounds great in theory, but is it true?
I discovered a good list of claimed fat burning foods over at Bembu.com – yet I wanted to do a little homework to see if there was any science behind these ideas.
Rather than turning to endless “recycled” websites for the facts, I turned (as is my custom) to our trusty friend Pubmed – a repository of over 22 million citations and abstracts from medical and health journals. Let’s “drink from the source” wherever possible.
It turns out that there is some scientific evidence to support fat-burning foods.
One of the earlier works in this field that appears significant was a 1986 study that reported that “Since the time of Lavoisier it has been known that the ingestion of food in animals and man produces an increase in oxygen consumption. This increase in metabolic rate was originally called ‘specific dynamic action’ (SDA) and is now widely referred to as the thermic effect (TE) of food or diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) (Rothwell & Stock, 1981).”
(Lavoisier, in case you were unaware, was named the “father of modern chemistry” and lived from 1743-1794. )
The abstract from the above-mentioned study goes on to note that caffeine and other substances in tea and coffee could also have a profound effect on metabolic rate. (Hence, the recent wave of interest in green tea as a dietary ingredient!)
A 2006 study noted that “Capsaicin, black pepper, ginger, mixed spices, green tea, black tea and caffeine… have the potential to produce significant effects on metabolic targets such as satiety, thermogenesis, and fat oxidation.”
So there you go, it is not all hype! As for the rest of the ingredients in this list – well… they all look like fine, healthy foods to me and if you eat these, as opposed to packaged food, I don’t doubt you will be lean and glorious.
As to whether they have scientific validation as fat-burners: Now that I’ve shown you how I do my research… you are empowered to look up anything you want. Learn to use Pubmed and to understand the abstracts, they will serve you well.
Here is the link to Bembu’s full list of fat-burning foods: http://bembu.com/fat-burning-foods
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d) Hip Flexors
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