Who knew there was a connection between a spicy pepper scorching your mouth and burning your belly fat? Scientists did! According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, daily consumption of one of the compounds found in pepper (capsaicin) speeds up abdominal fat loss by boosting the body's ability to convert food into energy. It also acts as a natural appetite suppressant: men who ate spicy appetizers consumed 200 fewer calories at later meals than those that did not, a study by Canadian researchers found. All you have to do to reap the benefits is use a pinch of cayenne pepper to season grilled fish, meats, and eggs.
Had enough of boring rice? Add some bulgur into your diet. Although this grain is traditionally used in tabbouleh—a staple dish of Mediterranean cooking made by combining bulgur with chopped parsley, garlic, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and lemon juice—you can also use it as a base of salad bowls or a side for a chicken dish. This cereal will help you burn fat thanks to boasting over eight grams of belly-filling fiber; A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that by simply increasing the amount of fiber you eat each day (to 30 grams) while keeping calories the same could help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve your body's insulin response as effectively as more complicated diets that try to overhaul your entire diet.
Research suggests these magical pulses are one of the closest things we have to a fat-burning pill. For starters, beans are a great source of resistant starch, a type of slow-digesting, insoluble fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, triggering the production of the chemical butyrate, which encourages the body to burn fat as fuel and reduces fat-causing inflammation. They're also one of the top sources of soluble fiber. A recent study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers found that for every additional 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten per day, a study subject's belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Black beans? One cup boasts an impressive 4.8 grams of soluble fiber.
One thing a fat burner won't do, however, is fix a broken diet. If you're eating for healthy fat loss, the way Krissy Kendall, Ph.D., explains in the comprehensive guide "How to Lose Weight," then a thermogenic fat burner can help with the other stuff: boosting energy, helping to curb appetite, promoting fat to be used for energy, and even increasing your metabolism and core temperature—what is known as "thermogenesis"—so you burn more calories throughout the day.
This Asian veggie dish is made by fermenting a blend of cabbage, radishes, and scallions with a seasoned paste of red pepper, salted shrimp, or kelp (koji) powder. Fermented foods are great for healing your gut thanks to the high levels of probiotics, but the unique strains found in kimchi may also help you stay slim: Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Korea induced obesity in lab rats by feeding them a high-fat diet. The group that got a Lactobacillus brevis supplement— the culture strain found in kimchi—was able to suppress the diet-induced increase in weight gain by 28 percent! If kimchi isn't your thing, also consider adding one of these probiotic foods for a healthier gut to your diet.