5 Summer Foods to Lose Weight

Summer is here! But what if you do not beach ready yet? Then try thermogenic foods.  What are thermogenic foods and how will they help me get ready for summer?

Thermogenic foods are foods that boost your metabolism through a metabolic process in which your body creates heat.  This is called thermogenesis. Thermogenic foods burn more calories and contribute to weight loss. These foods can be complimentary to other weight reduction efforts, such as exercising and cutting portion sizes.

Thermogenic Foods to Get You Ready for Summer

Summer is here! But what if you do not beach ready yet? Then try thermogenic foods. What are thermogenic foods and how will they help me get ready for summer?

1. Green Tea

Green tea is great for you. It has been shown to break down fat and improve insulin sensitivity. Research has shown the polyphenols and caffeine in green tea produce thermogenesis. This contributes to weight loss. Studies also show habitual tea drinkers have lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs), waist-to-hip ratios, and less body fat than non-tea drinkers.[1]

Make sure your green tea is organic and doesn’t contain any sugar. If it does, you’re defeating the purpose! Adding stevia for sweetness may help. Be sure you don’t over steep your green tea as this will lead to bitterness. During the summer try it iced for a delicious treat!

2. Hot Peppers

Spicy food makes you sweat! This helps burn calories, all due to a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that makes them hot. This promotes thermogenesis.[2] (Notably, capsaicin can also be used as a topical cream to decrease nerve pain.)

You can add hot peppers like cayenne to egg salad, soups, scrambled eggs, salsa, guacamole or your green smoothie.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is an essential part of curry powder. If taken regularly, turmeric can help reduce pain due to its anti-inflammatory effect.  In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, it also has thermogenic effects which result in weight loss.[3]

A tasty way to consume more turmeric is via a hot beverage called golden milk. It’s perfect for those cooler summer evenings.  To make golden milk, start with 2 cups of milk or non-dairy alternative and add one teaspoon powdered (ground) turmeric, one-half teaspoon cinnamon powder (another thermogenic food), a pinch of black pepper, and a dash of ground ginger. You can also add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper for even more fat-burning power! Heat everything slowly in a saucepan and enjoy.

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon provides support for healthy blood sugar levels. The lower your blood sugar, the less insulin you release, the less your cells store your food as fat – so balancing your blood sugar is a key to weight loss.

In addition to stabilizing blood sugar, cinnamon is also thermogenic.[4] You can use cinnamon for anything. You can add it to oatmeal, berries, your favorite protein shake, or a host of other items. Cinnamon also tastes great in coffee.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids. Most other oils are composed of long chain fatty acids. Medium chain fatty acids bypass the digestive process and go straight to the liver to be used as energy. This means they don’t get stored as fat! Coconut oil isn’t really thermogenic but it doesn’t get stored as fat. It can be used to replace bad fats in your diet. It has also been shown to play a role in the management of obesity.[5]

In addition to this, coconut oil contains beta-hydroxybutyrate. Beta-hydroxybutyrate has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory; it may also help with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[6]

You can eat a tablespoon of coconut oil every day straight from the container. You can also use it for your sautéed vegetables, curry chicken dishes, and in your coffee along with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

In addition to being thermogenic, the five foods discussed above are extremely healthy. You can combine them or eat them alone. Whatever you choose, be sure to incorporate these foods into your menu this summer!

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[1] Vernarelli JA, Lambert JD. Tea consumption is inversely associated with weight status and other markers for Metabolic Syndrome in U.S. adults. European journal of nutrition. 2013;52(3):1039-1048. doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0410-9.

[2] Leung FW. Capsaicin as an anti-obesity drug. Prog Drug Res. 2014;68:171-9.

[3] Bradford PG. Curcumin and obesity. Biofactors. 2013;39(1):78-87.

[4] Kwan HY, Wu J, Su T, et al. Cinnamon induces browning in subcutaneous adipocytes. Scientific Reports. 2017;7:2447. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-02263-5.

[5] Valente FX, Cândido FG, Lopes LL, et al. Effects of coconut oil consumption on energy metabolism, cardiometabolic risk markers, and appetitive responses in women with excess body fat. Eur J Nutr. 2017;

[6] Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, et al. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004;25(3):311-4.

Chris Latham

Clinical Nutritionist at Heal Well Nutrition
Chris Latham is a clinical nutritionist in Santa Barbara, CA. She has a Masters degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition and specializes in sports nutrition, GI health, hormones, nutrigenomics, and overall wellness. Chris is an avid and successful triathlete and endurance athlete. She is a past president of the Santa Barbara Triathlon Club and was triathlete of the year in 2013. Chris has successfully competed in Ironman triathlons and competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. She has won numerous triathlons, running races, and bicycle races in California and Hawaii. Chris is a member of the Rabbit Racing Cross Country team which placed third in the nation this year. In addition, she competed with her team and won 2016 Are You Tough Enough 65-mile endurance race. As well as athletics, Chris provides nutrition workshops in Santa Barbara and has appeared on television providing nutrition advice. For more information about Chris and what she does, visit Chris's website at www.healwellnutrition.com.

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