I’ve put together this list of fat burning foods to help you get an appreciation for what kind of foods really give your metabolism a boost, and help you to shed the kilos faster. As you can see, I’ve presented them in different food groups depending on their major characteristics, so they’re not necessarily shown in any order of importance.
Before going any further though, I’d like to lay down two very important ground rules first, to hopefully prevent you from using this list of fat burning foods in the wrong way.
First of all, while focusing on these foods will certainly help your body burn more calories and therefore kilos, that doesn’t mean that you can then feel free to ignore all the other things you should be doing to lose weight, like exercising.
Marketers love promoting magical “silver bullets” for losing weight, but there’s really no such thing. These foods will only help you to lose weight, they won’t do the work for you.
And secondly, regardless of what foods are and aren’t on this list, it’s important that you always strive for balanced meals in your diet. That means each meal should provide you with proteins, carbohydrates and fats, in healthy proportions. So even if you stick exclusively to this list of fat burning foods, remember to still balance your meals appropriately.
Protein – The Ultimate Calorie Burning Food
Lean proteins definitely deserve a position at the top of our list of fat burning foods. They’re truly the ultimate in the way of metabolism-stimulating foods. The reason for this is the fact that protein foods have a very high thermic effect.
The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) basically refers to the amount of energy your body expends in digesting and absorbing a food, as well as disposing of any unused waste products. What this means is that turning food into energy creates heat and actually burns calories. Or in other words, eating is thermogenic.
Protein has the highest TEF of all foods – 30%. This means that 30% of the calories you consume by eating proteins is actually used up in digesting and processing the food, so you’re actually only gaining 70% of the food’s calories in net terms.
That’s a pretty good deal, don’t you think?
Eat 500 calories of protein and you actually only take in 350, while your body works off 150 calories, with no effort on your part.
It’s like exercising without lifting a finger!
This is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to gain weight eating protein food. And why it’s such a great food to eat when you’re trying to lose weight.
So our list of fat burning foods starts off with my personal Top 10 of lean, healthy protein foods. Here they are:
- Chicken Breast
- Turkey Breast
- Egg White
- Kangaroo Steak
- Lean Beef (Top Round, Top Sirloin, Flank)
- Salmon (Canned and Fresh)
- Tuna (Canned and Fresh)
- Lean Ham
- Tofu and Soy Chunks
The World Health Organization has identified dietary fiber as the only dietary ingredient for which “convincing evidence” exists that shows a protective effect against weight-gain and obesity. Exactly how it does this however, is still being studied.
There are a few things we do know about fiber though, and how it benefits your health and weight loss:
- Soluble fiber slows down the digestion of food in your stomach and small intestine, and therefore causes your body to absorb its energy in a slower and more controlled manner. In other words, it reduces the food’s glycemic response, measured by the well-known GI (Glycemic Index).
- Soluble fiber combines with water in your digestive system to form a gel-like substance, making you feel fuller.
- Soluble fiber inhibits the absorption of cholesterol into your body, reducing your blood cholesterol level.
- Insoluble fiber stimulates regular bowel function, which helps prevent constipation and improves your general bowel health.
- Insoluble fiber reduces the time waste products take to travel through your bowel, which provides health benefits for your digestive system and reduces the risk of infection and colon cancer.
- Insoluble fiber helps maintain a balanced pH in your intestines, which also lowers your risk of colon cancer.
What this means is that if weight loss is your goal, then dietary fiber is one of your best friends.
The following foods are high in fiber and very low in overall calories, generally because of their very high water content. This makes them very important additions to our list of fat burning foods.
You should be including a lot of these in your weight loss eating plan.
- Chicory Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Cos (Romaine) Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
Natural Complex Carbohydrates
Perhaps you’re a little surprised to see carbs on a list of fat burning foods. But the fact is that your body needs carbohydrates, and choosing the right ones will make quite a difference to your fat burn rate.
Natural complex carbohydrates are without a doubt the carbs of choice for your body.
They’re the very best source of energy there is, they’re high in fiber, high in nutrients, and with a TEF of 20%, are second only to protein in thermic effect.
These foods are on our list of fat burning foods because they play a vital role in energizing you to be able to exercise effectively, and because of the wealth of nutrients they provide.
- Sweet Potatoes, Yams
- Brown Rice
- Whole Grain Bread
- Whole Grain Pasta
This next group of natural complex carbohydrates also have the added advantage of being high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber, as you know, is very, very beneficial for weight loss.
- Beans, Especially Lentils
- Rice Bran
High Fiber Fruits
Yes, there’s that word again. It kind of makes you think there might be something to this fiber stuff, huh?
Well, there certainly is. And fruits are another great source of soluble fiber. Plus they taste great – nothing wrong with that, right?
Now, bear in mind that if weight loss is your goal, the majority of the carbs you eat should be natural complex carbohydrates (they have a higher thermic effect). But including some natural simple carbohydrates (natural sugars) in your diet in the form of fruits is good too, because they bring some valuable nutrients to the table.
Being high in soluble fiber, the following fruits are therefore also great candidates for our list of fat burning foods. I’ve listed these in order of increasing calorie density.
Believe it or not, your body needs fat to burn fat! Sounds crazy, I know, but that’s how it is.
Monounsaturated fats are very healthy and they increase your body’s ability to burn fat.
Not only that, but they’re also good for your skin and heart, and they provide you with fiber (surprise!) and valuable vitamins and minerals. You just need to be a little careful with fats – because they’re very calorie dense foods it’s easy to overdo things.
Nuts and oils are a major source of fats, so our list of fat burning foods wouldn’t be complete without some of these.
- Macadamia Nuts
- Hazelnuts & Hazelnut Oil
- Almonds & Almond Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
And Last But Not Least . . .
To round things out, I wanted to mention one final item that definitely deserves to be on our list of fat burning foods:
A lot of people seem to lose sight of how many calories they actually consume in the liquids they drink. Believe me, these can often be very substantial. But if you get into drinking lots of water each day, you tend to cut out a lot of the other, calorie-filled drinks.
Even more importantly though, water is vital for the efficient running of all your body processes, so it also plays a key role in fat burning.
Being dehydrated slows down your body’s ability to burn fat, so drinking plenty of water is very necessary to allow your weight loss to progress as rapidly as possible.
This is why I always try to have a bottle of water handy wherever I go – it’s a good habit to get into.
A Final Warning
One final point I wanted to draw to your attention is the topic of so-called metabolism-boosting foods.
If you decide to continue researching fat-burning foods, you’ll no doubt come across some mention about various foods such as green tea, ginger, red chillis, capsicum (peppers) and some spices, that are supposed to raise your body temperature and fire up your metabolism, and therefore cause your body to burn fat as a result.
The truth is that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that supports the claims of these so-called fat-burning wonderfoods.
As always, you need to be very wary of things that seem too good to be true when it comes to weight loss. The effect that these foods have on your metabolism is almost negligible, which is most likely why it can’t be scientifically measured with any level of certainty. In reality, the calories you burn in preparing these foods could well actually be higher than the calories they’re supposed to magically burn.
Be very cautious therefore, before adding such gimmicks to your list of fat burning foods.