Do Fat Burning Foods Really Exist?

Written by Vicki Ma (Accredited Practising Dietitian and Sports Dietitian)

I know, sounds too good to be true right? But there are certain foods that could potentially help speed up your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. Green tea, coffee, chilli, nuts and dairy products have all been touted as “fat-burning” foods. Do these really work? Or is it just another super myth?

Green Tea 

Is more than just a calming brew, it contains the powerful antioxidant called catechins which helps burn fat and rev up your metabolism. Studies have shown, drinking around four cups of green tea can help speed up your metabolic rate by 4%, equivalent to burning an extra 40 calories per day. Not only is green tea beneficial for our waistline, but it also contains anti-inflammatory properties and is great for our overall health.


Is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. Coffee contains high amount of caffeine, which acts as an energy stimulant to keep you alert. Most athletes would use caffeine as an ergogenic aid to help enhance sports performance. Caffeine helps improve fat oxidation and stimulates thermogenesis, increasing the amount of energy used by the body whilst at rest. Remember, having too much caffeine can cause anxiety, nervousness, headaches, elevated heart rate and disturbed sleep. Ensure to limit intake to no more than 300mg per day (two to three cups of coffee) for adults.


Spicy foods such as chillies my help boost your metabolism, burn more energy and reduce hunger levels. This is all thanks to a bioactive compound called capsaicin. Studies have shown by eating 10g of chopped red chilli per day (which provides around 30mg of capsaicin), can boost the metabolism by 23% and help burn extra calories. Furthermore, eating hot chillies may help reduce your appetite, increase fullness level and prevent you from overeating. So spice up your meals with some extra chilli.


Don’t be alarmed, but the healthy fats in nuts can help you burn more fat! Not only is eating 30g of nuts per day good for your heart, but it’s also beneficial for your waistline. Studies have shown people who eat nuts on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing obesity. The high protein and fibre content in nuts helps improve satiety and reduce hunger levels. It’s estimated that between 5% to 15% of energy from nuts is not absorbed by the body, this means fewer calories for your body. It’s also suggested the physical effort used by the body to digest nuts may result in an increase in energy expenditure, estimated to be around 10%. More reasons for us to have a healthy handful per day.


Dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese has often been thought to be fattening. But recent research and a growing body of evidence has shown by including two to four serves of dairy in a calorie-restricted diet can actually help accelerate weight and fat loss. Dairy foods are rich in several nutrients such as calcium, which helps reduce fat absorption. The protein and fatty acid content in dairy products also assist with controlling hunger and improve satiety level.

The Bottom Line 

There is no magic pill for weight loss. Even though “fat-burning” foods do exist, it doesn’t mean you can eat high amount of processed foods then drink excessive amount of green tea to overcompensate. Remember for long-term sustainable weight loss, follow a healthy balanced diet with plenty of plant based-foods and exercise regularly.


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W., Wycherley, T., Luscombe-Marsh, N., Taylor, P., Brinkworth, G., & Riley, M. (2016). Dairy Intake Enhances Body Weight and Composition Changes during Energy Restriction in 18-50-Year-Old Adults-A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 8(7). doi:10.3390/nu8070394

Healthy Food Guide. Can certain foods speed up your metabolism? [cited 2017 September 3rd]. Available

Nuts for Life. Nuts and weight management. [cited 2017 September 3rd]. Available

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