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When people think of eating, they usually think of gaining calories. But what if you could burn fat while chowing down? It’s possible to prepare meals that double as fat-burning foods for weight loss. Some of these foods work by increasing resting energy expenditure (REE), or the amount of energy the body uses during rest. Some foods do this by boosting thermogenesis, or the body’s production of heat, a process that uses energy.
Your REE together with the energy you spend during exercise add up to give your total energy expenditure (TEE), the total number of calories you burn in a day.[ref]Paddon-Jones, Douglas, Eric Westman, Richard D. Mattes, Robert R. Wolfe, Arne Astrup, and Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 5 (2008): 1558S-1561S.[/ref]
This huge list of foods help increase your REE and, hence, your TEE. With a higher TEE, you’ll lose more pounds! Start by adding these 19 healthy fat-burning foods to your grocery list.
1. Tomato Juice
Tomato juice is jam-packed with a plant chemical called esculeoside A. It has the power to increase energy metabolism, helping you burn calories at rest. Esculeoside A can even stop cholesterol from building up! You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin A.[ref]Hirose, Asuka, Masakazu Terauchi, Moe Tamura, Mihoko Akiyoshi, Yoko Owa, Kiyoko Kato, and Toshiro Kubota. “Tomato juice intake increases resting energy expenditure and improves hypertriglyceridemia in middle-aged women: an open-label, single-arm study.” Nutrition journal 14, no. 1 (2015): 34.[/ref]
This juice tastes best when cold. If you’re not keen on the taste, blend it with veggies like cucumber or carrots. Other tomato-based products can also double as fat burners.
2. Whole Grains
When you eat whole grains, the body needs to work harder to digest them. This will boost the amount of energy burned, unlike simpler refined white grains. As a result, REE will increase and help the body reach a favorable energy balance.
Whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice are natural fat-burning foods. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which not only controls your appetite but also regulates your blood sugar levels. A fluctuating blood sugar level could make you to feel hungry even when your body doesn’t really want the food. If you have a high sugar level, include oatmeal in your diet to lose weight and avoid white bread, pasta, and rice when possible.[ref]Karl, J. Philip, Mohsen Meydani, Junaidah B. Barnett, Sally M. Vanegas, Barry Goldin, Anne Kane, Helen Rasmussen et al. “Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 105, no. 3 (2017): 589-599.[/ref] [ref]Accardo, Summer, RN. Fat Burning Foods: The Science Of Skinny: Weight Loss Over 50, Weight Loss During Menopause, Weight Loss Motivation. J. L Ryan, 2017.[/ref]
When you’re purchasing oatmeal, be careful. Most oatmeal brands contain high amounts of sugar but a low level of fiber. Always check the ingredient list, and go for the unsweetened variety.[ref]Goswamy, Neeraj. The Medical Science of Total Body Transformation. Lulu Press, 2014.[/ref]
3. Almonds And Peanuts
Almonds are full of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids called oleic acid, or omega-9. It stimulates mitochondria – the energizing “battery” cells – which then increases REE. Omega-9 has even been shown to encourage physical activity because it contributes to a healthier brain function. On top of that, this healthy fat is linked to good mood.[ref]Kien, C. Lawrence, Janice Y. Bunn, Connie L. Tompkins, Julie A. Dumas, Karen I. Crain, David B. Ebenstein, Timothy R. Koves, and Deborah M. Muoio. “Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 97, no. 4 (2013): 689-697.[/ref]
Peanuts contain healthy fats and essential nutrients like fiber, folate, magnesium, and vitamin E – something that is otherwise not present in regular low-carb foods. Studies suggest that including moderate amount of peanuts (yes, even peanut butter!) in your diet is another effective way to burn fat in a healthy way. Moreover, well-loved foods like peanut butter can make you stick to your diet longer.[ref]Mattes, Richard D., Penny M. Kris-Etherton, and Gary D. Foster. “Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1741S-1745S.[/ref] [ref]Weight-Loss Science Highlights: Peanuts and Peanut Butter Can Play an Important Role in Weight-Loss Diets. Food For Thought. Volume 8, Issue 3. The Peanut Institute.[/ref]
Add almonds and peanuts to your cereal or oatmeal. To keep things simple, simply snack on these superfoods.
4. Sunflower Oil And Coconut Oil
Sunflower oil also has high levels of omega-9. Like almonds, it helps mitochondrial function, thus using up more of the body’s calories, boosting REE, and melting fat.
Coconut oil balances hormones, which leads to a better functioning of the body and fat-burning. Unrefined coconut oil contains only 6.5 Calories per gram, as opposed to other fats that contain over 9 Calories per gram. Coconut oil is a healthy fat which when consumed in moderate quantities can help manage weight. If your metabolism rate is low, including coconut oil in your diet is a good way to increase it. A high metabolism burns more fat and makes you lose more weight.[ref]Gursche, Siegfried. Coconut Oil: Discover the Key to Vibrant Health. Book publishing company, 2008.[/ref]MacDonald, Ruth, Cheryll Reitmeier. Understanding Food Systems: Agriculture, Food Science, and Nutrition in the United States. Academic Press, 2017.[/ref]
To turn meals into foods that burn fat, add a drizzle of sunflower oil or coconut oil. It works great on salad, pasta, and rice dishes. You can even whip up a simple dressing by mixing sunflower oil with vinegar and honey.
5. Lean Chicken
Lean chicken is a source of healthy protein, one of the major macronutrients. And compared to carbohydrate and fat, protein is highly thermogenic. This means that it produces heat by stimulating metabolism, which burns fat. Thermogenesis is a result of the body turning over extra protein since it doesn’t have a way to store it.[ref]Paddon-Jones, Douglas, Eric Westman, Richard D. Mattes, Robert R. Wolfe, Arne Astrup, and Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 5 (2008): 1558S-1561S.[/ref]
For a filling food that burns fat, add skinless lean chicken to your list. Eat it with whole grains or salads.
Eggs have all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein. So they can boost thermogenesis just like lean chicken. Eggs will also increase satiety, stopping you from overeating later on.[ref]Vander Wal, J. S., A. Gupta, P. Khosla, and N. V. Dhurandhar. “Egg breakfast enhances weight loss.” International journal of obesity (2005) 32, no. 10 (2008): 1545.[/ref]
As fat-reducing foods, eggs are a great way to start your day. For the ultimate fat-busting snack, munch on almonds and hard boiled eggs.
7. Garbanzo Beans
When it burning fat, legumes like garbanzo beans have an all-round function. Their high protein content increases thermogenesis, while their fiber boosts fat oxidation. Legumes have also been associated with greater mitochondrial function, another factor in higher REE.[ref]Marinangeli, Christopher PF, and Peter JH Jones. “Pulse grain consumption and obesity: effects on energy expenditure, substrate oxidation, body composition, fat deposition, and satiety.” British Journal of Nutrition 108, no. S1 (2012): S46-S51.[/ref]
8. Dairy Products
Often, low-calorie diets do not meet the calcium requirement of the body. If you are on a low-calorie diet, low-fat dairy is the way to go, as it is high in calcium and low in carbs.
In a study that examined the effects of dairy on overweight participants, a moderate consumption of dairy heightened the pace at which the body burned fats.[ref]Chen, Mu, An Pan, Vasanti S. Malik, and Frank B. Hu. “Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 96, no. 4 (2012): 735-747.[/ref] [ref]Davis, Robert J. Coffee is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth about Di et and Nutrition Claims. Penguin, 2012.[/ref] A high level of calcium in the diet is also linked to weight loss in women.
However, dairy products show weight-reducing properties only when they are used on a short-term basis.[ref]Lakatos, Lyssie, Tammy Lakatos Shames. Fire Up Your Metabolism: 9 Proven Principles for Burning Fat and Losing Weight Forever. Simon and Schuster, 2004.[/ref] [ref][ref]Chen, Mu, An Pan, Vasanti S. Malik, and Frank B. Hu. “Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 96, no. 4 (2012): 735-747.[/ref]
Berries are not only delicious but also burn unwanted body fat. While the natural fructose sugar in berries satisfies your sugar craving, berry fiber fills you up and reduces your appetite for junk food. Berries contain antioxidants, which reduce belly fat and lower cholesterol. They also activate leptin, the hormone that suppresses hunger and prevents overeating.
Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are some of the berries that will help in the easy and fast burning of unwanted fat.[ref]Heymsfield, Steven B., Andrew S. Greenberg, Ken Fujioka, Russell M. Dixon, Robert Kushner, Thomas Hunt, John A. Lubina et al. “Recombinant leptin for weight loss in obese and lean adults: a randomized, controlled, dose-escalation trial.” Jama 282, no. 16 (1999): 1568-1575.[/ref] According to studies, blueberries, in particular, can significantly reduce abdominal fat and promote weight loss.[ref] Lyons, Olivia. 35 Fat Burning Foods. BookRix, 2013.[/ref] [ref]Seymour, Mitchell, Ignasia Tanone, Sarah Lewis, Daniel Urcuyo-Llanes, Steven F. Bolling, and Maurice R. Bennink. “Blueberry-enriched diets reduce metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in rats.” The FASEB Journal 23, no. 1 Supplement (2009): 563-31.[/ref]
Make yourself a berry smoothie or have frozen berries as dessert.
10. Fish And Fish Oil
Poison cuts poison, and fat cuts fat. So fatty fish might just be “The Fat-Burning Food,” especially for men. Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that stimulate the secretion of leptin, the hunger-killing hormone. These omega-3 fatty acids to move into the body cells and act as fuel for burning the body fat. Fish oil omega-3s also store the excess glucose in the body as glycogen, instead of fat. They are also known to reduce inflammation, which could contribute to weight gain.[ref]Thorsdottir, Inga, Helgi Tomasson, Ingibjorg Gunnarsdottir, Elva Gisladottir, Mairead Kiely, M. Dolores Parra, Narcisa M. Bandarra, Gertjan Schaafsma, and J. Alfredo Martinez. “Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content.” International journal of obesity 31, no. 10 (2007): 1560.[/ref] [ref]Karst, Karlene. The Metabolic Syndrome Program: How to Lose Weight, Beat Heart Disease, Stop Insulin Resistance and More. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.[/ref] [ref]Tisdale, Michael J., and Jasmin K. Dhesi. “Inhibition of weight loss by ω-3 fatty acids in an experimental cachexia model.” Cancer Research 50, no. 16 (1990): 5022-5026.[/ref] [ref]Heymsfield, Steven B., Andrew S. Greenberg, Ken Fujioka, Russell M. Dixon, Robert Kushner, Thomas Hunt, John A. Lubina et al. “Recombinant leptin for weight loss in obese and lean adults: a randomized, controlled, dose-escalation trial.” Jama 282, no. 16 (1999): 1568-1575.[/ref] Here’s a complete list of fish oil benefits.
11. Green Tea
Switching from coffee to green tea might actually be worth it, thanks to the appetite-suppressing properties of green tea. It not only stops the body from absorbing high calories but also provides healthy micronutrients like polyphenols and flavonoids. Green tea also has proven effects in controlling the weight of obese individuals by increasing their metabolism rate and inhibiting the effects of insulin. Another way in which green tea aids weight loss is by promoting thermogenesis. This is why most weight loss management programs incorporate green tea in their recommended diets.[ref]Muirhead, William E. Green Tea – It’s Hidden Benefits. Lulu Press.[/ref] [ref]Bose, Mousumi, Joshua D. Lambert, Jihyeung Ju, Kenneth R. Reuhl, Sue A. Shapses, and Chung S. Yang. “The major green tea polyphenol,(-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, inhibits obesity, metabolic syndrome, and fatty liver disease in high-fat–fed mice.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1677-1683.[/ref]
12. Green Vegetables
Here’s another reason to include those green veggies in your diet – they help reduce weight! Green vegetables fill you up and provide your body with essential nutrients, such as fiber, vitamin C, folate, and manganese. The best way to consume green vegetables if you want to burn the unneeded fat is to grind them into your smoothie. Chlorophyll, in its liquid form, suppresses hunger, which in turn burns unhealthy fat. Liquid chlorophyll also improves the functioning of the digestive system and maintains a healthy metabolism rate.[ref]Rubin, Jordan. The Great Physician’s Rx for Weight Loss. Thomas Nelson Inc, 2009.[/ref] [ref]Johnston, Robert Dave. Detoxify Your Body, Lose Weight, Get Healthy & Transform Your Life – Volumes 1-3. Robert Dave Johnston, 2014.[/ref]
Spinach, cabbage, and parsley are some of the green vegetables that help you shed fat and lose weight. You could also opt for liquid chlorophyll drinks.
Tamarind is extensively used as a condiment in the Eastern countries. This sour fruit is not just mouth-wateringly tasty but it also helps burn fat and promote weight loss. Tamarind eliminates unneeded body fat by inhibiting the production of fat cells. It discourages carbohydrates from being stored as fat in the body, making sure that you do not put on extra weight. Tamarind also heightens the metabolic function of the body and promotes the growth of lean muscles.[ref]DeAndrea, Richard. 7 Simple Rules of Weight Loss. Booksmango, 2013.[/ref] [ref]Farooqi, Azhar Ali, B. S. Sreeramu, K. N. Srinivasappa. Cultivation of Spice Crops. University Press, 2005.[/ref]
Tamarind rice and tamarind-based curries are a delicious way to shed those extra pounds – a win-win situation, really.
Turmeric is widely known for its skin-cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. But it can also be used in your diet to burn fat and lose weight. The herb lowers high blood cholesterol levels, fights against obesity, and helps you maintain your weight. It also stimulates the mitochondria present in your body cells to break down more fat and reduces the formation of fat tissues[ref]Evans, Nicole. Herbal Remedies: Herbal Remedies Guide For Achieving Ultimate Health. Pronoun, 2017.[/ref] [ref]Aggarwal, Bharat B. “Targeting inflammation-induced obesity and metabolic diseases by curcumin and other nutraceuticals.” Annual review of nutrition 30 (2010): 173-199.[/ref]
Add a pinch of turmeric to your favorite food to make it a fat-burning dish!
That’s right, avocados could help you shed those extra pounds! A mistake that most of us make in an attempt to lose weight is completely avoiding fats. Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are unhealthy. Fats are a part of a well-balanced diet and are required by the body. However, since fats contain high amounts of calories, you must consume them in moderation. Avocados are high in fiber and monounsaturated fat and are an ideal snack to keep you full and healthful.[ref]Some Myths about Nutrition & Physical Activity. National Institute Of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.[/ref] [ref]Goswamy, Neeraj. The Medical Science of Total Body Transformation. Lulu Press, 2014.[/ref]
Prepare avocado toasts and opt for avocado salad dressing to gain the healthy fat that’s required by your body.
16. Dark Chocolate
It’s time to eat your favorite dark chocolate guilt-free! The cocoa beans contained in dark chocolates can significantly increase your metabolism. A polyphenol called resveratrol (also present in red wine!) can change white fat into the calorie-burning beige or brown fat. The other polyphenols in dark chocolates also help the body easily absorb glucose from the chocolate and burn fat in the process.[ref]Leigh, Tina. Superfood Juices & Smoothies: 100 Delicious and Mega-Nutritious Recipes from the World’s Most Powerful Superfoods. Fair Winds Press, 2014.[/ref]
Always go for dark chocolates that contain over 70 percent cacao.
17. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which regulates the speed at which the sugar in your food is absorbed by the intestine. This keeps you full longer, controls your appetite, and reduces spikes in insulin and sugar levels.[ref]Georgiou, Claire Georgiou. The Apple Cider Vinegar Cleanse: Lose Weight, Improve Gut Health, Fight Cholesterol, and More with Nature’s Miracle Cure. St Martin’s Press, 2017.[/ref] [ref]Kohn, Jill Balla. “Is vinegar an effective treatment for glycemic control or weight Loss?.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115, no. 7 (2015): 1188.[/ref] Apple cider vinegar also reduces the production of fat, helping you lose weight.
Moreover, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar suppresses the genes responsible for producing fatty acids in the liver. It also activates the enzyme AMPK in the liver, which increases fat burning and reduces fat synthesis.[ref]Yamashita, Hiromi. “Biological Function of Acetic Acid–Improvement in Obesity and Glucose Tolerance by Acetic Acid in Type 2 Diabetic Rats.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 56, no. sup1 (2016): S171-S175.[/ref] [ref]Sakakibara, Shoji, Toshimasa Yamauchi, Yoshifumi Oshima, Yoshinori Tsukamoto, and Takashi Kadowaki. “Acetic acid activates hepatic AMPK and reduces hyperglycemia in diabetic KK-A (y) mice.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 344, no. 2 (2006): 597-604.[/ref]
In one study, having just 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar a day helped participants reduce 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds) on average. Those who had 2 tablespoons lost 1.9 kg (3.7 pounds) on average.[ref]Kondo, Tomoo, Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, and Takayuki Kaga. “Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 73, no. 8 (2009): 1837-1843.[/ref]
Use about 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in your daily diet to get rid of unhealthy body fat. However, remember not to overdose as too much apple cider vinegar can do more harm than good.
18. Chilled Sweet Potatoes
No, potatoes aren’t the enemy of a fat-burning diet, at least not sweet potatoes. A chilled sweet potato dish is the most filling snack there is! When you chill the sweet potato, the cooling process crystallizes tubers into resistant starch. This starch takes a considerable amount of time to break down, thereby keeping you full for longer and reducing hunger pangs. The breakdown of the starch also releases butyrate, which burns fat and maintains your weight. Sweet potatoes also contain RSCs that stimulate hormones to suppress your appetite and burn fat.[ref]Morelli, Michael. The Sweet Potato Diet: The Super Carb-Cycling Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks. Hachette UK, 2017.[/ref] [ref]Danziger, Lucy. The Drop 10 Diet: Add to Your Plate to Lose the Weight. Random House Publishing Group, 2010.[/ref]
Now, what if you are overweight despite a healthy diet? You could blame the genes that encourage the storage of fat in the body. Plums contain flavonoids called anthocyanins that reduce the activity of these fat-storing genes. This limits the amount of fat stored in the body and helps in weight management.[ref]McKay, Renée M., James P. McKay, Leon Avery, and Jonathan M. Graff. “C. elegans: a model for exploring the genetics of fat storage.” Developmental cell 4, no. 1 (2003): 131-142.[/ref] [ref]Castañeda-Ovando, Araceli, Ondra Sedo, Josef Havel, Lourdes Pacheco, Carlos Andrés Galán-Vidal, and Elizabeth Contreras López. “Identification of anthocyanins in red grape, plum and capulin by MALDI-ToF MS.” Journal of the Mexican Chemical Society 56, no. 4 (2012): 378-383.[/ref] [ref]Wild, Jamie. Lose Weight with the Chinese Plum Diet: The New, Easy Way to Lose Weight. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.[/ref]
Don’t Forget To Exercise
Even after eating a food that can burn fat, don’t forget exercise. Physical activity is essential for losing more calories than you take in. Think about your diet as a whole and include the foods on this list as much as possible.
That said, before including these foods in your diet, ensure that you are not allergic or sensitive to any of them. If you have medical conditions like diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome, consult your doctor and make sure that these foods are safe for you to consume. It is also important to eat the foods in moderation. If you overeat fat-burning food (like nuts), you might gain what you’re trying to lose – fat!