Miracle Weight Loss Foods: Fact or Fiction Slideshow
March 2, 2011
Claim: Burns off body fat while curbing your appetite to prevent overeating.
One small study found that people who ate half a grapefruit at each meal lost weight, but it was very small and not “conclusive” in any way. It’s healthy and a great source of fiber (if you eat it like an orange with the section membranes), vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, and antioxidants. So why not eat more? The only caveat is that grapefruit contains compounds that hinder the liver from metabolizing certain drugs. If you are on any medication, you should check with your doctor before adding significant quantities of grapefruit or grapefruit juice to your diet. — Kelly Aronica
Claim: Absorbs all the water in your body so you can ‘shed’ pounds quickly.
“They’re terrifically healthy for you, full of beta carotene and fiber.” Aronica says that the fiber acts as a sponge and draws water out of your digestive tract. The benefit of this is that it makes the stool soft and large and reduces incidence of constipation, as well as drawing out harmful compounds (like cholesterol). But losing water temporarily won’t result in weight loss, and being dehydrated can cause constipation as the sponge like fiber tries to keep absorbing fluid in your gut. Definitely add them to your diet, but don’t expect them to cause weight loss.
Claim: Drinking a ton will help you lose weight.
Verdict: Fact. (Sort of.)
It’s true that staying hydrated helps on many levels… Keeps you feeling full, keeps your kidneys functioning to flush out toxins from your body, and is good for your skin and hair. It doesn’t inherently cause weight loss, but it may be that some feelings of “hunger” are actually thirst in disguise and drinking sufficient water can head off the munchies and taking in extra calories. — K.A.
Seaweed (Kelp, Nori, Wakame)
Claim: Burns off body fat.
While a recent study from the University of Newcastle found that seaweed can reduce fat uptake by up to 75%, researchers say that you would need to eat large quantities of raw seaweed to make even a small impact. Instead, they are trying to incorporate seaweed into foods that people eat every day like yogurt and bread as a way to fight obesity.
The good news is that it’s also a great source of iodine, a variety of minerals, and antioxidants, so it can’t hurt to incorporate it in your diet if you’re looking to eat better. — K.A.
Claim: Eating an apple before each meal helps you lose weight.
Apples have a high fiber content that helps to keep you full, but pretty much the same answer as for sweet potatoes. Yes, eat more of them, but not because they cause extra calories to melt away. — K.A.
Claim: Stimulates the satiety center in your brain thus reducing hunger and helping you lose weight. (Also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure.)
Garlic is incredibly health promoting. It has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and is antibacterial. I can’t speak to the satiety center in the brain, but satiety is incredibly complex, responding to many factors such as nutrients in the blood, size of the stomach, and emotional factors, so no one thing will make you feel full magically. Raw garlic is best, which is part of the problem. How much raw garlic can any one person consume? Pills are probably easier. But it’s definitely worth putting crushed garlic in your salad dressing or on a sandwich wherever possible! — K.A.
Claim: Drinking four cups a day results in weight loss without a change in diet/exercise (suppresses diet). Has caffeine and EGCG which is a metabolism booster.
Verdict: Fact. (Sort of.)
Caffeine is probably the single most effective dietary way to raise metabolism. It absolutely works, though excessive caffeine can cause irritability, sleeplessness, and jitters. Some research shows EGCG to boost metabolism, but it’s too early to say anything conclusively. Also, to get enough, you have to consume a lot of tea, including a lot of caffeine. You should be careful of beverages that contain a mix of caffeine, EGCG, and guarana. Guarana is also a stimulant, but manufacturers are not required to put a quantity on packaging, so these beverages could contain a lot of stimulants, which in excess can cause heart problems. — K.A.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Claim: A natural remedy for weight loss because it helps to boost metabolism. (Mix it with water and drink throughout the day.)
This has been completely debunked by real research, though if you go online you can still find ardent supporters. — K.A.
Claim: Makes you sweat (shedding water weight) and fills you up faster while speeding up your metabolism.
Not just the sweating (because people are likely drinking fluids to soothe the spice anyway), but you can safely say that anything that makes you sweat is kicking up your metabolism. (It’s the capsaicin found in ingredients like cayenne pepper that makes spicy food spicy.) — K.A.
Claim: An evergreen plant that boosts energy and helps with weight control.
Otherwise known as ephedra, it has been linked to a number of serious side effects and some deaths. Ephedra-containing dietary supplements are banned due to these health concerns. — K.A.