Using food as a way to burn extra body fat isn’t typically our first train of thought when we dive into a fat loss regime.
After all, we’re typically focused on restricting certain foods and calories in order to lose weight, not adding in other foods.
However, science suggests we might want to focus on doing exactly that in order to lose weight.
It turns out there are quite a few heavily studied foods that have been proven to help increase your metabolic rate and burn more fat. And the best part? Most of them are actually great-tasting!
You’ll notice that many of these foods also contain specific compounds that can even help reduce your appetite and increase your satiety, causing you to eat less calories throughout the day.
Here I’m breaking down these specific foods you can nosh on to burn body fat faster, as well as how to add them to your diet.
Top 8 Foods That Help Burn Body Fat
1. Coconut and Coconut Oil
Coconut, and in particular coconut oil, is rich in medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) that have been proven to help give your metabolism a boost. In one study, obese men who added 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day to their diet lost an average of 1 inch from their waist without making any other diet or activity changes. [*]
I know, pretty remarkable right?
You can thank the fact that your body loves to use the type of fat in coconut oil for energy, while also helping provide a boost to your mitochondria, or cellular energy centers, that play a role in fat metabolism.
Many people add a tablespoon of coconut oil to their coffee to reap the benefits while sipping, but you can also cook with it and add shredded coconut flakes to smoothies.
2. Wild Fatty Fish
Not only have the omega-3s in fatty fish been shown to reduce heart disease risk and chronic inflammation, but also help in weight loss.
One study found that in just six weeks, 44 participants who supplemented with fish oil lost an average of 1.1 pounds. Some of this fat loss benefit may have also occurred due to omega 3s ability to reduce cortisol levels, which are associated with fat gain. [*]
If you decide to supplement with fish oil, make sure the bottle is dark and it is refrigerated; this ensures the omega-3s are better protected from heat and light damage.
Alternatively, try to eat at least four ounces of wild fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel 3 times per week.
If you’ve ever tried to give up coffee, you’ve probably come across many reasons not to (ha ha). Luckily, you can also add coffee’s fat-burning properties to the list of “why to not quit”.
Technically, caffeine is responsible for coffee’s fat-shredding benefits. Studies show that people who consume caffeine before exercise burn roughly twice as much fat and are able to exercise 17 percent longer than those who don’t. [*] In addition, research has shown a 3-13 percent metabolic increase from caffeine, depending on your individual makeup. [*][*] The takeaway? Fully enjoy your daily cuppa in the a.m.
Interestingly, eggs have shown some pretty epic ability to help your body burn fat.
In an 8 week study, researchers found that men who ate three eggs every morning consumed 400 fewer calories per day than other groups. In addition, they also experience a 16 percent greater reduction in fat. [*]
Eggs are high in protein and healthy fat, which help promote fullness and satiety, which may be part of the reason for their fat loss benefits.
5. Whey Protein
Whey protein not only helps build and sustain muscle mass, but is also the ruler when it comes to helping you feel full.
Research shows it stimulates “fullness” hormones PYY and GLP-1 at a higher level than other foods, and has also resulted in study participants consuming less calories overall throughout their days. [*][*][*]
If you’re in the habit of drinking protein shakes, reach for a clean (no artificial flavors or added sugars) whey protein to give your shred a boost.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
You’ve probably heard about apple cider vinegar for fat loss and wondered if it had any scientific backing.
It turns out it does, with research showing its main component, acetic acid, can increase fat burning and reduce belly fat storage. [*][*] One study even found that obese men who added 2 tablespoons of vinegar to their diets lost 3.7 pounds over the course of 12 weeks. [*]
If you try apple cider vinegar, be sure to dilute it in water before drinking, otherwise it can burn your throat. Start with one teaspoon daily in a glass of water and gradually work your way up.
7. Chili Peppers
If taste is any indication of fat burning properties, the heat of chili peppers gives them away immediately.
Capsaicin, the active component in spicy peppers, has been found to increase the burn in more ways than one, with studies showing it can fire up your metabolism and can cause you to burn more calories throughout the day. [*] Other research also shows that capsaicin can counteract the metabolic slowdown that can occur when you restrict your calories when dieting. [*]
Add a dash of chili flakes or cayenne pepper to your daily meals to cash in on the fat-burning heat.
8. Olive Oil
I know – it seems like olive oil is on every good-for-you-food list in existence, but it’s for good reason. Not only does it contain extremely healthy monounsaturated fats that help ward off heart disease and improve cholesterol, but research shows it can also help with weight loss.
Like whey protein, it has also shown the ability to stimulate the release of hormones that promote a feeling of fullness. [*]
Olive oil is perfect for roasting foods, and drizzling on salads and veggies.
As you can see, there isn’t really a shortage of foods that can help you lose fat, and many of them are foods you can easily incorporate into your daily diet, like olive oil and coffee.
Cheers to making food work for you.