Boosters for weight loss: part three

Eat your greens!

It turns out our mothers were right (again). Green (leafy) vegetables contain a membrane which can resist our digestive enzymes for some time in our digestive tract; this enables them to bind with an enzyme which delays fat absorption. The magic in this is that, although these calories will ultimately be absorbed, the delay will give very strong satiety signals to our brain, saying ‘we are full -- you don’t need to eat for a while’.

A study conducted in Sweden showed overweight women who were given powdered spinach lost over three pounds more than women in the control group, and also their cravings for sweet food were reduced. An added benefit was reduced LDL cholesterol.

The mechanism for the weight loss was they experienced less hunger. So: eat those greens, the darker the better -- but don’t overcook them (like my mum did).

Leafy greens also contain significant amounts of calcium, a mineral also beneficial for weight loss. It is safer and more beneficial to eat your calcium than to take a supplement.

Brown fat

Most of us have probably heard about brown fat and how it is advantageous, as it actually burns calories, but sadly most adults only have the usual lardy sort. Not so! When we are born our bodies are about 5% brown fat; it’s what keeps babies warm. As we grow older this is lost; more so in some than others. Possibly this explains why some folk are naturally leaner!

But now the good news is: we all have some brown fat. Even if it is very little we can make it metabolically active so it starts to burn off our lardy fat.

Ways to activate brown fat

Exposure to cold: turn down the thermostat!

Exercise in cool temperatures.

Eat chilli peppers -- perhaps cayenne; or, for those who don’t like it hot, tests indicate capsaicin supplements will work. Even if it doesn’t appear to work for weight loss, research indicates people who eat chilli peppers live longer.


Ginger has a long history as a medicinal plant. In more recent times, in rigorous trials it has been shown to be clinically effective in treating migraines, morning sickness, reducing cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and inflammation.
It was noted that people who eat ginger tend to be leaner than non-ginger eaters. Trials were conducted to try to elicit why. The bottom line appears to be that ginger eaters reported to be less hungry after ginger consumption, and their metabolic rate was increased. This 10% increase in metabolic rate only worked when ginger was consumed in the morning and interestingly dried ginger seemed to work better than fresh. The boost in metabolism was due to brown fat activation which in turn led to a reduction in belly fat.

Dose: a quarter to one-and-a-half teaspoons a day.


Studies are mixed about how effective cinnamon is in weight reduction. However, it has been proven to help with blood sugar control and in lowering cholesterol. Use Ceylon cinnamon. One stick infused in hot water (no need to eat the stick!); or add ground cinnamon to your meals.


Another plant compound long used for its many medicinal benefits may also help with weight loss. In a small study it was shown to reduce appetite in healthy adults. It seems to have a relaxing effect also, so a drink of peppermint tea (no calories or caffeine!) may help us sleep better. And we know the benefits of sleep for weight loss!


Drinking tea not only boosts metabolism in those with brown fat deposits but, magically, it can help those who have lost it regain it!

Studies suggest green and black tea are each effective at helping people lose weight, but only if they don’t take milk.


A study from The School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham has demonstrated that coffee can help you lose weight by stimulating the activity of brown fat. Sadly, probably without the cream.