Just like the fountain of youth, which supposedly turns back time for anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters, notions of magical problem-solving tools keep all of us craving a quick and easy fix. Diet pills, restrictive meal plans, and fat-burning foods fall into this same category, giving us false hope for the one secret solution that will help us skip the hard work and jump right to reaching our goal.
To play devil’s advocate on the overwhelming promotion of fat-burning foods, say you skipped dinner the night before and ate a pastry for breakfast. We wouldn’t typically expect sugary sweet pastries to fall into the “fat-burning” category, but because your body’s calorie needs are higher than the pastry, the body will tap into fat stores, turning that pastry into a fat-burning food.
We don’t mean to burst your fat-burning bubble, but there’s more to this than fasting and eating pastry the next morning. There’s no one food that specifically burns fat and solves all your weight-related struggles, however, there are many foods that help increase metabolism and support your weight loss effort.
Best fat-burning foods
As we mentioned before, there’s no magic solution and no single food that literally burns fat, however, there are a few fat-burning foods that help fuel your fire, also called your metabolism. The thermic effect, the energy we use to eat and break down food, is part of our metabolic rate, contributing to 5-15% of our daily calorie burn. By focusing on more whole foods, protein, and fiber, we increase the amount we burn when we eat.
5 Natural fat-burning foods
As you can see, the science of fat loss is a complicated process in which your body constantly works and adjusts according to your intake and nutritional needs. Let’s dive into which natural foods that decrease inflammation, boost the burn, and rev up our rate of metabolism.
Eggs, plain yogurt, tofu, and lean animal protein (chicken, pork, fish) are our top picks for protein. Studies show that the effort it takes to break down and digest protein increases both satiety and metabolism. These foods are also an excellent source of amino acids and sulfur components which protects the liver and promotes detoxification. Love an egg-cellent egg breakfast? Good news: Eating eggs in the morning has been linked to eating fewer calories later in the day.
Chili contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Some people find that eating hot spices promote fullness and therefore prevents overeating. It can also slightly increase metabolism because it “heats up” your body. However, it’s not a healthy tool to use in excess, since eating too much spice can be damaging to your digestive system.
Some studies have shown that cinnamon can help stabilize blood sugar. When your blood sugar is stable, rolling on steady hills rather than peaks and valleys, it curbs cravings and promotes more fat burn. Adding this sweet tasting spice helps add flavor without extra sugar and extra calories.
3. Coffee and tea
We recommend that you steer clear of “diet teas.” Many times, they contain a strong laxative which might give you diarrhea — so rather than helping you lose weight, they will simply make you “go.” Beware of clever marketing and healthwashing which promotes an ingredient or formula will make you burn fat. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Coffee has been linked to improved physical performance, meaning it can aid in getting you through a tougher workout and, in turn, increased calorie burn. Since caffeine it is a stimulant, it slightly increases metabolism but this varies from person to person. Keep in mind that dumping in sugar or cream can halt this extra burn since it adds extra calories. Don’t like your coffee black or don’t like it at all? Try some of our healthy additions or alternatives.
Green tea also has the effects of caffeine, slightly increasing metabolism in some individuals. Green tea also contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants which help beat the bloat. If you’re substituting plain green tea for sugary drinks, you’ll be fat-burning to the max. Like everything we mention here, don’t overdo it. Green tea and matcha this or matcha that get abused as a diet aid and healthwashing scam.
4. Healthy fats
A round of applause to salmon for being full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein. Inflammation has been linked to obesity so reducing it may help your body become more efficient at burning fat. Fish oil has also been linked to a reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone that promotes belly fat.
Nuts are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Studies show that they can promote weight loss when eaten in moderation. In fact, the number of calories has been proven to be off, partially because of the thermic effect of almonds linked to their high fiber count. The fiber prevents all of the calories from nuts from being fully absorbed by the body. To keep this healthy snack healthy, aim for nuts that don’t have oil, sugar, and salt added.
All non-starchy vegetables contain good amounts of water, loads of vitamins and minerals and very few calories. Adding these veggies to your meals helps you maintain a calorie deficit, which is how you burn fat. Try snacking on raw veggies to satisfy your craving for crunch. What are the starchy ones, you may ask? Include these only occasionally if you’re looking to burn fat: sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, corn.
Make it a habit to “burn through your fuel”
You may have noticed a trend: most of these fat-burning foods are far from being processed. They’re in their natural state which gives our digestive and metabolic systems their own exercise and fitness routines. Many foods found in their natural form increase your metabolic rate while providing above average health benefits.
Despite what food marketers and supplement producers preach, there is not a quick fix or “magic pill” that will make your body burn through extra calories and fat. When it comes to burning fat or losing weight, what matters is small and sustainable habits that last a lifetime. Start by adding some of these fat-burning foods to your meals today.
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