You probably already know that certain foods can boost your metabolism and help your body burn body fat. In other words, there are some fat burning foods that create a thermogenic effect in the body and help you lose weight.
But what the heck are they?
Well, today you’re in for a treat because I’ve put together a complete list.
A list of 40 scientifically proven fat burning foods that contain particular compounds and nutrients that fuel your internal furnace to rapidly burn fat.
When you have eggs on hand, you can whip up a healthy meal any time of day that will not sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Eggs are full of protein and when added to vegetables they make a delicious vegetable omelet.
JS Vander Wal, et al.Egg for breakfast improves weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 2008.
According to the study above, eating eggs for breakfast is more beneficial than a breakfast of bagels as it can help you lose up to 65% more weight.
The group who has been instructed to eat eggs for breakfast has shown:
- 34% greater reduction in waist size
- 16% greater reduction in body fat
The difference wasn’t statistically significant, although.
According to a scientific study conducted on 27 overweight/obese men, protein at around 25-30% of calories has been proven for its ability to reduce cravings by 60% and desire to snack by 50% (13).
Leidy HJ, et al. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2011.
The blue bar: Represents the high-protein group.
The red bar : Represents the normal-protein group.
According to this study, increasing the protein intake has been proven for its ability to cause a drastic reduction in cravings late in the night.
Protein has also a high thermogenic effect: You burn about 30% of the calories the food contains during digestion (so a 300-calorie chicken breast requires about 90 calories to break it down).
Even though green tea does not contain a lot of caffeine, it does contain anywhere from 25-50 mg of caffeine per cup. However, green tea also contains Catechins that is scientifically proven for its ability to reduce body fat.
A 12-week randomized controlled trial in 240 men and women shows that the continuous ingestion of a GTE high in catechins led to a reduction in body fat, and LDL cholesterol and, therefore, contributing to a decrease in obesity and cardiovascular disease risks.
Tomonori Nagao, Tadashi Hase, Ichiro Tokimitsu, (2012) A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans. Nagao – 2007 – Obesity – Wiley Online Library
A 12-week randomized controlled trial in 40 women aged 20–40 years shows that dietetic supplementation with coconut oil seems to promote a reduction in abdominal obesity.
Assunção, M.L., Ferreira, H.S., dos Santos, A.F. et al.of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity Lipids (2009) 44: 593.
These hot peppers contain a compound called ‘Capsaicin’ that is found in a related study to have a positive effect on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects.
Manuela P. G. M. Lejeune (a1), Eva M. R. Kovacs (a1) and Margriet S. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects Published online: 01 March 2007
You can take advantage of this food by adding flaked pepper to sauces and soups.
If you are not a fan of spicy foods, you can still take advantage of Capsaicin through eating peppers with a compound called Dihydrocapsiate that will not set your mouth on fire.
Eat High Protein Breakfast
It is much easier to lose weight when you kick-start your day with a healthy high protein breakfast .
A related study conducted on 35 overweight premenopausal women found that high protein meals providing 30 or 39 g protein/serving produce greater appetite control, lower postprandial glycemia and insulinemia, and reduced subsequent intake at lunch relative to a low-protein control, or no breakfast.
A randomized, controlled, crossover trial to assess the acute appetitive and metabolic effects of sausage and egg-based convenience breakfast meals in overweight premenopausal women.
Rains TM, Leidy HJ3, Sanoshy KD4 A randomized, controlled, crossover trial to assess the acute appetitive and metabolic effects of sausage and egg-based convenience breakfast meals in overweight premenopausal women. Nutr J. 2015 Feb
Think protein and fiber for your breakfast to start your fat burning furnace.
If you are in a hurry in the morning, whip up a protein smoothie with some Greek yogurt and berries in a blender.
To help you lose weight, here are some high-protein breakfasts to consider:
- Scrambled eggs: You better fry them with veggies in coconut oil/olive oil.
- An omelet: Would be great if prepared with cottage cheese and spinach (Personally, I like it!).
- Stir-fried tofu: with dairy-free cheese and kale.
- Greek yogurt: with berries, seeds or wheat germ.
- A shake: You can opt for one scoop of whey protein/a banana/frozen berries/or almond milk.
The old saying: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is really true.
According to a related study, women who were given the instruction to consume 300 grams of apples (the equivalent of 10.6 ounces or 1.5 large apples) per day have lost around 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg). The study has been conducted over a period of 12 weeks (41).
Nutrition, ISSN: 0899-9007, Vol: 19, Issue: 3, Page: 253-256 Weight Loss Associated With a Daily Intake of Three Apples or Three Pears Among, Publication Year: 2003
Another study conducted on moderately obese males and females found that apple polyphenols regulate fat metabolism in healthy subjects with relatively high body mass index.
Oats are loaded with healthy fibers and can be added to many recipes for additional nutrition benefits.
It is found in many studies that oats that can help lower cholesterol (LDL) levels especially in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.
Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Whitehead A(1), Beck EJ(1), Tosh S(1), Wolever TM(1)
Stay away from the individual packets that are often loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Choose steel-cut oats if possible for maximum benefit.
Kidney beans contain amylase inhibitors that break down starches and other complex carobhydrates. They prevent the release of simple sugars as well as delay the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates from the digestive tract (49).
When it comes to berries, the deeper the color, the more antioxidants they contain to break down starch into simple sugars, meaning fewer simple sugars are released into the blood stream. This is a major factor when it comes to losing body fat because insulin shuttles any excess sugar straight into the fat cells (54).
Raspberries contain Ketones that are similar to the compound, Capsaicin that gives hot peppers their heat (55).
Blueberries have been shown to lower cholesterol, blood fats and improve insulin and blood sugar levels. Plus, they are an excellent source of fiber and low in calories making them a perfect fat burning food (56, 57, 58).
A team of researchers hypothesized that fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content or a low glycemic load would be more strongly associated with weight loss.
To prove or disprove this hypothesis, they did a meta-analysis of three observational studies that spanned up to 24 years.
Bertoia et al. Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLOS Medicine 2015.
This chart shows the weight loss for different classes of fruits and vegetables, based on one serving size:
The numbers show the pooled weight loss over four years, for each serving. As you can see, eating berries was most strongly associated with weight loss.
One of the key ingredients in yogurt is calcium that can not only strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis, but it can speed up weight loss by 50-70% (63).
Choosing full-fat versions of yogurt, in particular Greek yogurt can help you lose weight when eaten every day (64).
A related study conducted at the University of Tennessee has proven that consuming 3 servings per day of calcium-rich yogurt (and other dairy foods) can enhance weight loss significantly (65).
Greek yogurt contains less sugar and salt, and more protein and digestive-friendly probiotics than American-style yogurt.
Broccoli is high in antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, B9, K and Folate as well as fiber that has been shown in many studies to cause weight loss.
One study conducted on healthy individuals found that consuming <25 g/day of dietary fiber may help to decrease the currently high national prevalence of obesity.
C. Howarth M.Sc Edward Saltzman M.D. Susan B. Roberts Ph.D. Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation First published: 27 April 2009
This bright-colored vegetable is not only good for your eyes with its bountiful Beta-carotene, but it is loaded with fiber that helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol and supports weight loss (67).
It makes an excellent fat burning food and is especially valuable for relieving digestive problems including constipation.
Eating more butternut squash can go a long way in igniting your fat burning furnace.
Dark Chocolate (not the sugary crap)
Dark chocolate is not off limits when you are trying to lose weight as long as it is dark chocolate that is full of powerful antioxidants including Polyphenols and Flavonoids that help keep your arteries clear and prevent heart attacks (68)
A related study conducted on 470 elderly men has shown that cocoa has the ability of reducing cardiovascular death risk by up to 50% over a 15 year period.
Buijsse, B, Feskens, E, Kok, FJ & Kromhout, D 2006, ‘Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: the Zutphen Elderly Study’
Another related study has shown that consuming chocolate at least 2 times a week enables to lower artery calcification by up to 32%. Consuming chocolate less frequently has been proven to have no effect (75).
High in lycopene, asparagus is a healthy addition to any healthy diet. In addition to its delicious taste in an egg omelet :).
At this time, no study has tested the the effects of asparagus on weight loss.
However, asparagus has many properties that may potentially help people lose weight.
First, it’s very low in calories, with only 20 calories in half a cup.
AG Dulloo, et al. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1989.
The graph above displays how lean people and people who have recently lost weight burn energy in both cases (In case of caffeine intake/NO Caffeine).
It has been shown thru this study that 600 mg of caffeine per day enables lean people burn up to 150 more calories a day.
*600 mg of caffeine= 6 “average” cups of coffee).
An added benefit is that it can help prevent stroke, heart and respiratory diseases, infections and diabetes. (The National Institutes of Health – AARP Diet and Health Study)
Coffee contains several active biological substances that affect metabolism in a good way. These substances have a stimulant effect and slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Of course, you do not want to overdo the cream and sugar as that can offset the benefits.
It is important to eat flaxseeds ground and not in their whole state. They are very effective in reducing inflammatory markers by 25-46% (89).
An average pear is the equivalent of ONLY 101 calories which remains a low amount. However, pears are a great source of fiber and have a low glycemic index.
As a matter of fact, a daily pears consumption help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in our digestive system (92).
You can enjoy kale cooked, juiced or raw. Either way, it is full of vitamin K, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, fiber, and is a rich source of calcium for healthy bones plus it is low in energy density.
A study has found that regularly consuming foods that are low in energy density can be an effective strategy for weight management.
Rolls BJ, Roe LS, Beach AM, Kris-Etherton PM. Provision of foods differing in energy density affects long-term weight loss. Obes Res. 2005 Jun; 13(6):1052-60.
Oatmeal for breakfast
Making oatmeal for breakfast is a good way to ignite your fat burning metabolism. It is high in protein, low in fat and loaded with minerals including iron.
You can enjoy one cup of cooked oatmeal (=166 calories). In place of adding sugar, toss in two tablespoons of blueberries or strawberries.
To rank the satiety effect of as many as 38 common foods, cooked oatmeal has occupied the 1st position amongst all breakfast foods and the 3rd position overall according to a related study (97).
Water-soluble fibers such as beta-glucans found in oatmeal have been proven for their ability to increase satiety and reduce appetite thru :
- Delaying stomach emptying,
- Increasing stomach distention
- Releasing satiety hormones.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
When you purchase ‘extra-virgin’ olive oil, you are getting the first press of the olive.
According to many related studies, Extra-virgin Olive Oil has been proven for its :
Protective effects (according to a randomized clinical trial of 418 non-diabetic participants 107).
A Mediterranean Olive oil based diet can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by over 40% according to this study.
Olive oil is a healthy fat and contains vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is needed for red blood cells and vitamin K that aids in blood clotting.
A rich-in-olive diet has been found to increase antioxidants levels in blood and cause weight loss according to a study conducted on 187 participants over a period of 3 years (110).
Quinoa is a whole-grain with complete protein packed full with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
You can enjoy quinoa with black beans or fresh vegetables for a satisfying meal !
Salmon is rich in high-quality protein.
100 grams of salmon, Atlantic, raw contains 20 grams of protein and as mentioned previously, Protein plays a number of important roles in the body, including maintaining muscle mass during weight loss.
Stijn Soenen Eveline A. P. Martens Ananda Hochstenbach Normal Protein Intake Is Required for Body Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance, and Elevated Protein Intake for Additional Preservation of Resting Energy Expenditure and Fat Free Mass The Journal of Nutrition, May 2013.
For optimal health, health professionals recommend taking daily meals with at least 20–30 grams of high-quality protein (16).
Choose wild-caught as opposed to farm-raised salmon whenever possible.
Cottage cheese is made from curdled milk.
It is rich in vitamin D, calcium and protein.
In fact, 100 grams of cottage cheese, creamed contains 12 grams of protein.
As mentioned previously, proteins can actually help you lose more weight and at the same time maintaining muscle mass.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005) reported that those who eat whey protein lose more weight, particularly body fat than those who do not.
David S Weigle, Patricia A Breen, Colleen C Matthys, Holly S Callahan, A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 82, Issue 1, 1 July 2005, Pages 41–48,
According to the graph above, the total calorie intake plummets immediately in those who increase their protein intake to 30% of calories.
As a result, you start losing weight like clockwork.
Protein has been proven to be the most satiating of all macronutrients.
Consuming whey protein can increase fat oxidation and decrease fat mass. Add it to a smoothie in the morning or stir it into a bowl of oatmeal.
A study conducted at the Institute for Human Nutrition at Columbia University found that those who drank a hot ginger beverage made them feel full and satiated for longer periods of time (143).
Consuming ginger reduces feelings of hunger and enhances thermogenesis.
A related Study found that ginger was just as effective as over-the-counter pain relievers without the side effects.
Two tablespoons of fresh ginger can be steeped in water for about 10-15 minutes and enjoyed with lemon or honey.
Oolong tea is rich in antioxidants that have been proven to speed up metabolism (144).
For maximum weight loss results avoid adding sugar or artificial sweeteners.
In my opinion, full-fat dairy can be one of the best foods to eat to lose weight.
It is important to stick to the full-fat varieties such as cream, cheese and butter, because these have the greatest Vitamin K2 content, which can drastically decrease chances of heart disease.
These foods can easily be overeaten though, so I recommend only having them as part of healthy recipes.
Definitely stay away from low-fat dairy because it is highly processed, void of Vitamin K2, and high in sugar.
Enova oil is made from canola and soy oils.
The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that those who used Enova oil lost more weight than those who used other oils.
The oil can be used like any other oil for cooking and tastes delicious in home-made salad dressing.
Besides the taste, peanut butter can satiate cravings for sweets and junk foods, keeping you full longer.
Make sure you purchase peanut butter that is made from peanuts only. It should not have any added oils, sugar or preservatives. Better yet, look for a store near you that offers the opportunity to grind your own nut butter.
It is found in a related study that women who are given peanuts as a substitute for other sources of fat lost about 3 kg over a 6 month period (147).
These nutrient-rich beans serve up plenty of vitamins, minerals, Fiber, Riboflavin, Thiamin and Folate.
Loaded with protein and fiber, they are a Mediterranean favorite available throughout the summer months keeping you bathing suit ready any day of the week.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted on 91 obese individuals studying the effects of grapefruit and grapefruit products on body weight and metabolic syndrome has found that grapefruit eaten before meals is associated with significant weight loss and improved Insulin resistance .
Fujioka, K., Greenway, F., Sheard, J., Ying The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. 31 Mar 2006
The mechanisms, however, are still unknown but it seems reasonable to include grapefruit in your diet if your goal is to lose weight.
Make sure you eat the fleshy white membrane too as that is also high in fiber. Enjoy alone or add it to salads for delicious flavor.
A little bit goes a long way with almond butter and it makes the perfect accompaniment to a fresh apple. It is high in protein, fiber and calcium.
In a 4-week randomized, parallel-arm study conducted on 137 Participants found that entailed consuming almonds (43 g/day) with breakfast or lunch provides post-ingestive metabolic and appetitive benefits and did not increase the risk for weight gain.
A randomized, controlled trial S Y Tan & R D Mattes Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks:European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume 67, pages 1205–1214 (2013)
One tablespoon of almond butter contains 100 calories but you do not need to eat a lot to feel satisfied. Spread it on a piece of a low carb bread or dip your favorite fruit in it for a perfect snack.
Tuna fish is loaded with Omega 3 essential fatty acids that can reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is cluster of health conditions that includes high blood glucose levels, increased blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels meaning low HDL levels. When they occur together, they can increase your risk for stroke, heart disease and diabetes (164).
Aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of metabolic syndrome and other serious health problems like diabetes (165).
In order to reduce inflammation in the body and help prevent insulin resistance, heart disease and specifically metabolic syndrome, you can make sure you intake enough of omega 3 essential fatty acids (166, 167, 168, 169).
Choose tuna fish packed in spring water as opposed to one packed in oil to save on calories.
Tuna fish is high in protein and low in fat making it the perfect choice for a satisfying meal.
There are endless studies that show the healthy benefits of walnuts. They are high in protein, fiber and good fats.
Walnuts are also good for the heart and brain, and are delicious on salads or tossed with your favorite vegetable. Just don’t go overboard as they are high in fat.
Legumes are lower in calories and high in fiber.
A randomized controlled trial conducted on 35 obese men found that consuming legumes could activate mitochondrial oxidation, which could involve additional benefits to those associated with the weight reduction.
Choose navy beans, white beans, chickpeas, lima beans or kidney beans.
Toss in a salad and enjoy them alone or as a side dish.
In addition to being high in fiber, avocados are also high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Avocados actually contain anywhere from 11 to 17 grams of fiber.
It takes 9 months to grow an avocado and it takes 9 months of gestation for a woman to bear a child.
In addition to that, Avocado may aid in weight loss. In fact, In one study, people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours, compared to people who did not consume this fruit 175.
They can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol (181).
Spinach is loaded with nutrients and low in calories.
Popeye was right in eating spinach as the antioxidants found in spinach improve recover for better muscle building and for fighting free radicals (toxins, chemicals and pollutants (12).
A study has shown that the daily intake of 5 grams of spinach extract coupled to a 3-month weight loss program can result in up to 43% greater weight loss if compared to a placebo (185).
The study has been conducted on overweight women!
Enjoy a spinach salad before a meal and it is a great way to eat smaller portions.
Apple Cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is not just for making salad dressing or as a condiment. You can add it to water and drink to support your weight loss efforts.
One study showed that overweight individuals who consumed ½ to 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar per day for 12 weeks lost almost four pounds (188).
Plus, apple cider vinegar goes a long way in preventing blood sugar spikes after meals.
In fact, studies have shown that those who are pre-diabetic or insulin resistant and drank apple cider vinegar found their blood glucose levels cut in half compared to those who did not drink apple cider vinegar (189, 190).
Your liver needs to be able to detoxify you and when it is stressed out, it makes it more difficult to metabolize fat effectively and that fat goes straight to your waistline.
Pure, clean, filtered water is an excellent way to increase enzymes that detoxify your liver allowing it to work more efficiently (191).
Boschmann M, et al. Water Drinking Induces Thermogenesis through Osmosensitive Mechanisms. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2013.
According to the graph above: Drinking 17 oz of water, over a period of 1 to 1.5 hours, can help boost your metabolism by 24-30%.
*17 oz of water=500ml of water.
My thoughts on these fat burning foods
These aforementioned foods are the best to eat if you want to lose weight.
One of the great things about these foods is that you are adding them to your diet, instead of removing stuff.
There are other foods that I would recommend for healthy people such as the occasional starchy grains like rice and Root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes. However, they are still very high in carbs.
High carbs starchy vegetables appeared to promote weight gain.
A related study has been conducted to investigate the association of increased fruit and vegetable intake and changes in weight over time.
Bertoia et al. Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLOS Medicine 2015.
As you can see, potatoes, corn and peas were all associated with weight gain.
However, this only applied to servings that exceeded one serving per day.
Overall, these results indicate that eating some fruits and (most) vegetables may help with weight loss and weight maintenance.
On the other hand, starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, peas and corn, may promote weight gain when eaten in excess.
For people who need to lose weight it is a good idea to minimize them.