We all know how important good nutrition is for our general health and wellbeing. The term ‘You are what you eat’ couldn’t be more true, as what we fuel our body with has a direct impact on how we function day to day, how our bodies grow and repair themselves, and to some extent how susceptible we are to getting ill.
When it comes to either building muscle, or burning fat, the food we eat also plays a significant part. Specifically with burning fat, if we boost our metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories) then we can burn fat more quickly and easily. So what is the best food for burning fat, and what can it do to help shift those unwanted pounds?
Firstly, A Quick Look At How Your Metabolism Plays A Part
Metabolism is a word that describes all the chemical reactions that take place within your body that keep it alive and functioning. In simple terms, the higher your metabolism or metabolic rate is, the more calories you will burn and the easier it becomes to lose fat and to keep it off. Another key benefit of a high metabolism is that it can also give you energy and make you feel good.
There are things we can all do to increase our metabolism including exercise. In fact getting down the gym (or into your home gym) and building muscle can increase your resting metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories just to function). Likewise, stepping up the cardio can rev up your metabolism in the hours after your workout – especially if that exercise is a form of high intensity interval training or HIIT.
Burning Fat Is Not Just About Physical Activity
As beneficial as physical activity is, it is just one part of the broader picture. We can exercise all we like, but if we are feeding ourselves high calorie, unhealthy foods full of sugar and saturated fat then we will limit our body’s potential to burn fat and see little to no result at all – not a great trade off for the extra effort we put in at the gym.
To help burn fat and shift those extra inches we can, and should, also look to the food we eat. Fortunately there are numerous natural foods and beverages we can consume that have been shown to help boost our metabolism and promote fat loss.
10 Healthy Foods For Burning Fat
1. Oily fish
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce inflammation, decrease the risk of heart disease and boost fat loss.
In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 44 adults who took fish oil supplements over a six-week period lost 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) on average whilst experiencing a drop in cortisol (the stress hormone in the body associated with fat storage).
In addition, fish is a great source of high quality protein. Consuming high levels of protein leads to better feelings of fullness and helps to increase metabolic rate significantly more than digesting carbohydrates or fat.
To really feel the benefits, try and include a minimum of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of oily fish in your diet two to three times a week.
As well as being one of the world’s most popular drinks, coffee is a brilliant source of caffeine which helps to enhance mood and improve our mental health and physical performance. Caffeine can also help to burn fat.
In a study involving nine people, those who consumed caffeine an hour before a workout burned almost twice as much fat and managed to exercise 17% longer that those who took no caffeine whatsoever.
Research has proven that caffeine can increase metabolic rate by between 3-13% depending on how much is consumed and the individual’s response to it.
But don’t start drinking so much caffeine you turn into a quivering wreck! To get the fat-burning benefits without the side effects, try and consume 100-400mg per day, which is roughly the equivalent of between 1-4 cups of coffee, depending on how strong you make it.
3. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Not only is full-fat Greek yogurt an excellent source of protein, calcium and potassium, it also contains probiotics that help to keep your gut healthy and may help to reduce constipation and bloating. Full-fat Greek yogurt also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which helps to promote weight loss and burn fat in overweight people according to research.
Eating Greek yogurt regularly can boost fat burning, protect hard-earned muscle during periods of weight loss and help you feel fuller for longer.
If possible, make sure you choose plain, full-fat Greek yogurt over non-fat or low-fat versions as these contain little to no CLA.
Eggs are super-nutritious. Although they sometimes get a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, whole eggs have been shown to protect heart health in those at increased risk of heart disease. They’re also a really effective weight loss food!
Eggs are highly satiating (make you feel full) and breakfasts containing eggs can reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness for several hours. In an eight-week study, 21 men who consumed three eggs for breakfast ate 400 fewer calories across the day and experienced a 16% reduction in body fat compared to those who ate a bagel for breakfast instead.
They are also a brilliant source of high-quality protein which can increase metabolic rate by between 20-35% for several hours post-meal. It is considered that one of the reasons eggs are so filling is due to the boost to calorie burning that occurs whilst they are being digested.
So aim to eat three eggs several times a week to help you burn fat and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
5. Chilli Peppers
As well as spicing up your food, chilli peppers are powerful antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation and protect from cell damage. One antioxidant in particular, capsaicin, may help encourage fat loss and maintain a healthy weight as it promotes fullness, therefore preventing overeating and reducing calories by around 50 per day according to studies. It is also shown to counteract a slowdown in metabolism that can occur when you consume fewer calories.
Try eating chilli peppers or use cayenne pepper in your food several times a week to spice up your meals.
6. Whey Protein
Whey protein is proven to help promote muscle growth when combined with an exercise routine and preserve muscle mass during periods of weight loss according to studies. It’s also highly effective at making you feel fuller for longer than many other protein sources because it stimulates hormones that help to suppress appetite.
In addition, it helps to boost fat burning and promote fat loss in both lean people and those who are overweight. In another study, a whey protein meal was shown to increase the metabolic rate and fat burning of 23 healthy adults more than casein or soy protein meals.
Consuming a whey protein shake as a quick meal, or snack, helps to promote fat loss and may improve your body composition.
7. Green Tea
Green tea is great for promoting good health and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against certain types of cancer.
As well as containing a small amount of caffeine, green tea is also a good source of the antioxidant EGCG which promotes fat burning and the loss of belly fat in some people.
A study carried out with 12 men, showed that fat burning during cycling increased by 17% in those who consumed green tea extract compared to those who didn’t. However, some other studies have shown that green tea has little to no impact on metabolism or fat loss so it’s likely that its weight loss effects vary between individuals.
Consuming up to four cups of green tea a day could help provide a number of health benefits and increase the amount of calories you burn. Even if it doesn’t help you to burn fat, the benefits of green tea in other areas of your health are worth it.
8. Olive Oil
One of the healthiest fats around, olive oil has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and stimulate the hormone GLP-1 that helps you feel fuller, as well as lowering triglycerides (the main constituents of body fat in humans).
Studies have shown that the oil may boost the metabolism and promote fat loss. One particular study saw 12 women (post-menopause) with abdominal obesity eat olive oil as part of a meal and significantly increased the amount of calories they burned for several hours afterwards.
Olive oil can easily be included into your diet by adding a couple of tablespoons to a salad or into cooked food.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce appetite and lower blood sugar and insulin levels in those with diabetes. In addition, vinegar contains acetic acid which is found to increase fat burning and reduce belly fat in animals.
There isn’t a great deal of research on vinegar’s effect on human fat loss, but one study, involving obese men, has shown promising results. During the study, 144 men added two tablespoons of vinegar to their diet every day over 12 weeks. On average they lost 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) and reduced their body fat by 0.9%.
Try including Apple Cider Vinegar in your diet to help lose body fat. Around two teaspoons per day – either diluted with water or added to food should be more than sufficient.
10. Coconut Oil
Adding coconut oil to your diet helps to increase good HDL cholesterol levels and decrease triglycerides whilst helping you to lose weight, according to studies.
One such study saw obese men adding two tablespoons a day to their diet and losing an average of 1 inch from their waistline without increasing physical activity or introducing any other changes to their diet.
The fat-burning properties of coconut fats are credited with suppressing the appetite and can be used for home cooking. Taking up to two tablespoons of coconut oil per day could help increase fat burning – so try ditching the sunflower oil and add coconut oil to the pan instead.
Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine
There is no magic pill to fat loss, despite what some may suggest, and the reality is burning fat takes some work and dedication, and a real desire to achieve results.
That said, if you are willing to make some changes to your lifestyle, including your diet, it isn’t too hard to start shifting some of that stubborn fat and seeing results. Adding the right food and drink to your diet, along with a sensible exercise routine, can really help accelerate this process by increasing your metabolism and offering some other pretty great overall health benefits at the same time.
Get Some Help With Planning Your Meals
You may be thinking, well this is all great, but I don’t particularly fancy spoon-feeding myself apple cider vinegar, eating raw chillies or glugging olive oil. How can I successfully incorporate these healthy foods, and more, into some tasty meals?
For some excellent recipe ideas that will help you to burn fat and get into shape, Metabolic Cooking is a great recipe package that contains easy to make, tasty, metabolism-boosting recipes using all these ingredients and more.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, or if you have any further questions, or need more help and advice, drop me a comment below. I’ll be more than happy to help you out!