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Can Certain Foods Promote Weight Loss?

Can Certain Foods Promote Weight Loss?

Dear Doctor,
I am a 35 year old mom with two small children, and I am carrying a little bit of extra weight from my last pregnancy.  It is getting harder each year to lose it, and I am looking for easy ways to lose the weight between taking care of two little ones.  My best friend told me that there are foods I can eat to speed up my metabolism and drop the pounds.  I haven’t been able to find much online to help me determine if this is true… and what I did find looks a little iffy.  Can you help?  A miracle weight loss food sounds too good to be true….is it?

Tracy P.
Fort Myers, FL.

Dear Tracy,

Your question is a good one.  I am glad that you are seeking ways to lose the weight in a safe manner.

The first thing I want you to know is that the factual evidence of the weight-loss potential of various foods, is still emerging and debated in the scientific community.  Some foods that are heavily touted as natural weight-loss miracles—like apple cider vinegar—do not actually result in weight loss.  Therefore, it’s important to consult the scientific literature to separate truth from fiction.  It is unlikely that an individual can lose significant weight by choosing to eat just the foods below, but when combined with a sensible diet plan, like the medical weight loss plan offered at Optimal Male , you can reach your goals and achieve a healthy weight.

Here is an evidence-based list of helpful weight loss foods:

Caffeinated coffee and tea.

In a high-powered prospective study ( Changes in caffeine intake and long-term weight change in men and women.  Esther Lopez-Garcia Rob M van Dam Swapnil Rajpathak Walter C Willett JoAnn E Manson Frank B Hu.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 83, Issue 3, March 2006, Pages 674–680, ) that examined the link between caffeine consumption and weight change over a 12-year period, researchers found a small benefit, in terms of weight loss, over a long period of time.

Taking age into account, the researchers observed lower average weight gain in participants who increased their caffeine intake vs. those who limited or decreased their consumption.  The differences between extreme populations, however, were small: -0.95lbs. in men and -0.90 lbs. in women.

The researchers found the greatest benefit to increasing coffee and tea consumption was less weight gain.  In men, this difference was most pronounced in younger participants.  In women, the link was greatest in those with higher body mass index, as well as in current smokers and less physically active individuals.


This is my, and my physician assistants, personal favorite…..I love seafood and am so glad it made the list!  Fortunately, becoming overweight or obese doesn’t happen overnight.  Instead, weight gain creeps up on you after years of positive energy balance, i.e. consuming more calories than you burn.  During pregnancy of course, your body is storing extra calories for the nourishment of the baby.  When calories are not used, the body is forced to store them and the easiest way to store the excess is as fat.  According to evidence from intervention trials, frequent consumption of lean seafood as opposed to red or white meats, decreases caloric intake by 4 to 9 percent.  Over the long haul, this may prevent a positive energy balance and thus prevent obesity.

Lean seafood also decreases fasting and postprandial insulin resistance, and increases insulin sensitivity in patients who are insulin resistant, such as diabetics and pre-diabetics.  Many of these effects are likely due to, you guessed it, omega-3 fatty acids.  Even though the latest cardiovascular research shows that omega-3 fatty acids don’t have the cardiac protective affects we previously thought, they still offer substantial general health, cognitive health and wellness benefits.


Sorry, peanuts don’t count and guys don’t seem to benefit as much as women.  Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds were found to offer the greatest benefits for reaching and maintaining healthy weight.  The rationale behind the idea that nuts promote weight loss is because, even though nuts are fatty, they help you feel full with a relatively low caloric intake.  Back to the old energy balance hypothesis.  Investigators who conducted a cross-sectional survey
( Inverse association between the frequency of nut consumption and obesity among Iranian population: Isfahan Healthy Heart Program. Noushin Mohammadifard, Narges Yazdekhasti, Gabriele I. Stangl, Nizal Sarrafzadegan. European Journal of Nutrition. September 2015, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 925–931 ) found that in women (not men) there was a significant correlation between high nut consumption and lower prevalence of being overweight or obese.  Additionally, eating more nuts was significantly linked to a lower risk of being overweight or obese but again, only in women.

Fruits and veggies

Since elementary school, we have been taught that we need to eat our fruits and vegetables.   They should be consumed as part of any balanced diet.  But the specific combination of fruits that you choose may result in greater weight loss, as well as improved weight maintenance.  According to the findings of a high-powered, US prospective study, (Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies.   Monica L. Bertoia, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Leah E. Cahill, Tao Hou, David S. Ludwig, Dariush Mozaffarian, Walter C. Willett, Frank B. Hu, Eric B. Rimm.  September 22, 2015. ) fruits and veggies that were non-starchy resulted in the most weight loss.

In this study, after adjusting for other variables, increased consumption of fruits was correlated with 4-year weight change: total fruits, -0.53 lbs. per daily serving; berries, -1.11 lbs.; and apples/pears, -1.24 lbs.  Increased consumption of various vegetables was also correlated with weight loss: total vegetables, -0.25 lbs. per daily serving; tofu/soy, -2.47 lbs.; and cauliflower, -1.37 lbs..

Unfortunately, increased consumption of starchy vegetables, including corn, peas, and potatoes, was correlated with weight gain.  Ultimately, vegetables with a low glycemic load and those high in fiber were more strongly linked to weight loss.

Medium-chain triglyceride oil

Health experts recommend limiting your ingestion of saturated fats.  But saturated fats come in different varieties such as short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain fats, some of which may be good for you.

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil has been promoted as a weight-loss agent.  Sources of MCT oil include coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products.  MCT oil can be substituted for other oils during cooking as well as used in salad dressings, or it can be taken by the spoonful as a dietary supplement.

Because people use it to diet, researchers have been interested in its cardiovascular effects, such as on lipid levels, which to date have been mixed.

In one study, ( Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Consumption as Part of a Weight Loss Diet Does Not Lead to an Adverse Metabolic Profile When Compared to Olive Oil.  Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, Aubrey Bosarge, BA, Laura Lee T. Goree, RD, MSc, and Betty Darnell, RD.  Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2008 Oct; 27(5): 547–552 .) experts examined the effects of MCT oil versus olive oil, on lipid profile, weight, and metabolic risk factors, including glucose, insulin, and blood pressure, as part of a 16-week weight-loss program in overweight men and women.

They found that, after controlling for body weight, MCT oil did not affect fasting serum glucose levels, total cholesterol concentrations, or diastolic blood pressure. Furthermore, weight loss was greater in participants who consumed MCT oil vs olive oil.  In other words, they found no adverse cardiovascular effects and positive weight loss effects.

The experts concluded, “Our results suggest that MCT oil can be incorporated into a weight-loss program without fear of adversely affecting metabolic risk factors. Distinction should be made regarding chain length when it comes to discussing the effects of saturated fats on metabolic risk factors.”

At Optimal Male, my team and I can provide you with the medical expertise to lose weight and get healthy.  Our medical weight loss plan provides all the supplements, food and exercise guidance, B12 injections, vitamin and IV supplementation, as well as weekly coaching and guidance.

Call today for your FREE medical exam and consultation on any of our services and let us help you on your Optimal journey!

Live Light, and Live Well!

Richard Freier, M.D.
Medical Director
Optimal Male Performance Center
Office: 239.596.8886

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