Ask The Pharmacist: 5 foods for a hot summer bod

Suzy Cohen
Portrait of happy woman in swimsuit hiding behind beach hat.

The fastest way to lose weight is to exercise more, and shrink your portions at each meal. But there are some shortcuts you can take.

One of them is thyroid hormone, because it turns on your fat-burning pathways. Another short-cut is to eat and drink more of the foods (and beverages) that increase calorie-burning, termed thermogenesis.

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Here are the specific items I think can help, so try integrating what you like here, and do it on a daily basis.

Green tea

Drinking green tea, even once or twice daily (iced or hot) can be integrated very easily. Make sure it’s organic, the flavor doesn’t matter but if you put sugar in it, you’re defeating the purpose.
Even if you keep your regular diet steady, you could lose as much as 2.9 pounds over 12 weeks, according to a 2013 article I read in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The researchers theorize that it’s a combination of the caffeine content and the polyphenols present in green tea that produce a thermogenic effect.

Hot peppers

Mmm, I love spicy food! It helps you burn calories due to the heat-forming compound called capsaicin. Taken internally in the form of spice, it can turn on thermogenesis.

So next time you eat hot chili or salsa, or green curry … and feel yourself starting to get hot under the collar, remind yourself that you’re not being socially awkward, you’re being metabolically upregulated.


Cinnamon is thought to help balance blood sugar, which by the way is a short-cut to losing weight, discussed fully in my book, “Diabetes Without Drugs.”

Cinnamon is also thermogenic. Sprinkle it over a bowl of fresh berries with a splash of your favorite milk or cream, put some on top of your morning oatmeal, or into a protein shake or smoothie. Cinnamon is great on top of coffee too.

Apple cider vinegar

In 2009, researchers found that acetic acid, the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar, promotes the production of fat-burning enzymes in the livers of mice.

Don’t drink it straight because it is very acidic and can damage your tooth enamel and esophagus. It always has to be diluted in something so use it to make salad dressing, or dilute a teaspoon in a cup of water and boom … down the hatch!

My ‘bookface’ mom drinks it that exact way, to this day.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil’s molecular structure makes it uniquely able to bypass the digestive process (where its calories could be stored as fat) and sent straight to the liver where it can be used for fuel. So coconut oil isn’t thermogenic because it increases calorie-burning, per se, but rather because it doesn’t contribute to fat, and it could replace bad fats in your diet. In addition to being thermogenic, these five foods are extremely healthy for you in so many ways, so integrating them in to your healthy diet is a wonderful idea just for the health of it.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit