Myth Bust: These Foods Don’t Actually Burn Fat

When searching for ways to burn fat fast, it’s all too common to come across specific foods purported to be the magic bullet. But do such foods actually result in fat loss? Here we take a look at the most common foods believed to burn fat and whether it may pay off to expend energy elsewhere! Nutritionist, Zoe Bingley-Pullin shares the foods that don’t actually burn fat.

burn-fatimage via pinterest


Celery is famous for its purported ‘negative calorie effect,’ in other words, when you burn more calories digesting the food than calories contained in the food. However, protein-containing foods have the most thermogenic effect and generate most heat effect. Celery contains little to no protein and its digestion is unlikely to generate much heat let alone result in satiety. This in turn, may lead to overeating and constant grazing in the search for feeling satisfied, both not conducive to fat loss.


The grapefruit diet has been around for many years and is promoted as a sure fire way to lose weight. Grapefruit has been successfully studied as a weight loss aid but pinpointing a specific mechanism of action linking fat burning and grapefruit is yet to be achieved. There may be other factors at play. Specifically, grapefruit contains fibre, which may induce satiety and lead to overall less energy being consumed. Grapefruit is also a rich source of health promoting antioxidants. Overall, before labelling grapefruit as a fat burning food, more research in this area is needed. Eating a balanced diet high in fibre and anti-oxidants is the better way to go.


Chilli contains the active compound capsaicin linked to increased thermogenesis and reduced appetite. Review of the research suggests capsaicin does play a role in weight management but only a very minute role and unlikely to be a sustainable way to burn fat. If eating chilli regularly, it’s likely the body will build tolerance and the dose of chilli will need to be regularly increased for the same effect. Notably also, the research mostly looks at powdered and capsule form capsaicin, a more potent form compared to fresh chilli.


Coffee is one of the most common sources of caffeine. Caffeine is known to increase metabolism and help break down fat. If you are just starting out with caffeine, it may have an initial metabolic boosting effect. However, like most stimulants, eventually the body develops tolerance and the effects are no longer felt. If looking to burn fat in the longer term, caffeine is not going to be a sustainable aid and its best to enjoy coffee for its other healthy promoting benefits!

The bottom line is that relying on specific foods to burn fat is similar to following a fad. Due to a change in routine, it may result in some fat loss initially, but unlikely to be maintained. On the other hand, if you have personally found success using certain foods, the best approach is to integrate such foods into a balanced diet and engage in regular exercise for long-term sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance.


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