Foods That Burn Fat

Fact Or Fiction?

By Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

“If you lost a little bit of weight, your diabetes would be better.”

How many times have you heard these words from your health care provider?  Part of the advice given to people with type 2 diabetes is to eat right, exercise more and lose weight. But we know it’s often easier said than done.  Losing weight is possible, but it is hard work.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could eat certain foods and the pounds would just melt away? Do any foods really burn fat or help with weight loss? Let’s take a look at foods that have been called “fat burners” so you can decide if they really are— or aren’t.



Can eating cheese and yogurt and drinking milk help you shed pounds without having to slash your calorie intake? A study sponsored by the National Dairy Council and published in 2004 showed that a group of overweight adults who consumed 1,200–1,300 mg of calcium from milk, cheese and yogurt lost more weight than another group who got calcium from supplements and a third group who had a low intake of both dairy foods and calcium. But other studies have not shown the same effect.

Bottom line: Eating one serving (8 ounces of milk, yogurt or nonfat or low-fat dairy foods) three times daily as part of a lower-calorie eating plan may enhance weight loss.


» Apples and pears

Eating at least three  small apples or pears every day may help you lose weight, based on findings from a Brazilian study. In this study, overweight women who ate three apples or pears every day as part of a lower-calorie diet lost more weight and had a greater drop in blood glucose than women who didn’t eat apples or pears. The “apple/ pear eaters” took in fewer calories, probably due to the fiber content of the fruit. Bottom line:   As the saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruit, may promote weight loss because they can help fill you up so you eat less.



Eggs have been called “nature’s perfect food.” Eggs offer protein, B vitamins, and vitamins A, D and E, along with other nutrients that we need for good health. Several studies have shown that eating eggs can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight. Eggs provide high-quality protein, which can prevent the loss of lean body mass, or muscle. Eggs also can help you feel full so you eat less. In fact, a recent study showed that eating eggs for breakfast helped people cut their daily caloric intake by up to 18 percent and helped them lose 65% more weight than another group of people who ate bagels for breakfast.

Bottom line: Eggs contain cholesterol (actually, only the yolk has cholesterol) but they can still be part of a heart-healthy eating plan. It’s really saturated fat that raises blood cholesterol the most, not the cholesterol found in food. And egg whites have no cholesterol at all, just protein. One egg contains only 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and no carbohydrates, and may help you to eat less and lose weight.



Vinegar’s roots as a folk remedy date back to 400 B.C.E. It is said it helps treat many health issues, such as arthritis, warts, sunburn, urinary tract infections, ulcers, hiccups and, of course, being overweight. Not surprisingly, there is an “apple cider vinegar diet” where you drink apple cider vinegar before each meal. Does drinking vinegar help you lose weight? Animal studies have shown that vinegar can prevent fat buildup in the body. And in a Japanese study, obese people were given different amounts of vinegar or fake vinegar (placebo). The vinegar-drinkers had a lower body weight, body mass index and waist size than the placebo drinkers at the end of the study.

Bottom line: Adding vinegar to your meal plan (as a salad dressing or a marinade, for example) may or may not help you lose weight. However, vinegar has no calories, no carbohydrates and no fat, so it’s a good food seasoning. And because it’s an acid, vinegar can help slow the rise in blood glucose after eating. Taking a teaspoon in a glass of water at bedtime may result in lower morning blood glucose levels. But use vinegar carefully, as eating too much may irritate your mouth, throat or stomach.



Eating a bowl of oatmeal may not only help you lower your cholesterol, it may help you shed some pounds, too. Oatmeal is high in a type of fiber called soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose. It also slows the rate at which food leaves your stomach, so that you’re less likely to be hungry. And when you’re not hungry, you usually end up eating less.

Bottom line: Try including oatmeal in your eating plan at least several times a week. Not a big fan of oatmeal? You can get soluble fiber from other foods, too, including dried beans and peas, barley, and oranges and apples.



Jalapeño, Scotch bonnet, cayenne and chili are types of hot peppers. They get their heat from a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin sometimes is used in ointment form to help relieve pain. Some studies show that it can also help speed up your metabolism, or the rate at which you burn calories. In fact, spicy foods in general may help you burn more calories by making you feel fuller. One study showed that men who seasoned their food with hot sauce ate 200 fewer calories than men who didn’t use  hot sauce.

Bottom line: If you can take the heat, stock up on hot peppers, hot sauce, red pepper flakes and other spicy foods. Go easy, though, if you suffer from heartburn or ulcers.


Food, in general, doesn’t “burn” fat. But, the foods mentioned above may make it easier for you to lose weight—and keep it off. If you need more help or have other questions, ask for a referral to a dietitian who can help you fit higher-fiber, higher-protein foods into your eating plan.


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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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