Chowing down on nutrient-dense, fat-burning foods and drinks can help you drop pounds and also improve your health in many ways. For example, a healthy, balanced diet may be able to reverse diabetes and reduce your risk of obesity and other health problems including certain types of cancer.
Plus, when you ask the average person about his or her personal goals, all too often there’s a common theme: wanting to lose weight (especially belly fat). While the reasons are often superficial (after all, who doesn’t want to look good in their swimsuit or summer attire?), the reality is that the benefits of losing weight go far beyond what’s reflected in the mirror.
Filling up on nourishing foods can also boost your energy level, productivity, mental clarity and help you feel better about yourself all around.
If you’re eager to add more healthy foods into your diet, for reasons including to lose weight and simply to feel great, start by emphasizing the ultimate fat-burning foods listed below.
20 Fat-Burning Foods
The most effective fat-burning foods and drinks have several things in common:
- They are often high in filling fiber, protein and/or healthy fats. These attributes help to reduce hunger and cravings, increase fullness after and between meals, and boost thermogenesis (the production of heat that occurs during digestion, which is highest when eating high-protein foods).
- They are unprocessed/whole foods with little or no added sugar, sodium, etc. This means they tend to be relatively low in calories or, in some cases, contain virtually no calories to all.
- Fat-burning foods supply essential vitamins and minerals that support your metabolism, energy, endurance and mental health, such as B vitamins, iron and electrolytes.
Here’s a list of the some the top fat-burning foods:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
This pantry staple can actually help you lose weight by reducing sugar cravings and helping to balance blood sugar, thanks to its active ingredient called acetic acid. Ingesting apple cider vinegar before a meal may make you feel fuller with less food and protect against obesity.
Additionally, it works as a natural way to detox your body and balance your stomach’s pH. Because the substance is highly acidic, try adding a tablespoon or two to a glass of water before drinking.
2. Bone Broth
Bone broth is considered a superfood that may have the potential to transform your health in tangible ways, including by controlling your appetite. Thanks to the abundance of amino acids bone broth contains, bone broth can help prevent muscle breakdown, increase your metabolism and help detoxify your body.
While our ancestors ate bone broth regularly, since they wasted no part of an animal’s body, it’s no longer as common in our daily diet.
3. Cayenne Pepper
This spicy seasoning is good for more than just increasing the heat in your foods. A 2015 review found that capsaicin (the active ingredient in cayenne) may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health.
Cayenne pepper increases your body’s ability to create heat and use energy, just what you want when trying to shed those extra pounds. Cayenne pepper also supports your metabolism, which may help you lose fat faster.
One of the easiest ways to sneak more cayenne pepper into your diet is by making this Secret Detox Drink or sprinkling it on top of belly fat-burning foods like chicken or beef for an extra kick of flavor and heat.
4. Chia Seeds
These seeds, originally grown in Mexico, are a nutritional powerhouse filled with healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber, making them a true fat-burning food.
Not only does consuming chia seeds increase energy and give you more endurance power (you’ll get that workout in after a long day!), but because it absorbs so much of its own weight in water, the seed also helps slow your body’s digestion. This helps reduce hunger pangs and cravings, making it one of the top fat-burning foods for women when that time of the month hits.
When it comes to protein sources, what foods burn fat quickly? If you’re trying to lose weight, chicken is a readily available, protein-dense choice to fill up on.
Just three ounces of chicken — about the size of a deck of cards — provides about 37 percent of your body’s daily value for protein. This nutrient helps keep our bodies energized, our muscles looking sculpted and our bellies feeling satiated. Opt for quality, locally grown or organic chicken whenever possible.
6. Coconut Oil
Not all fats are created equal. In fact, coconut oil is one of the healthiest, most natural fats we can consume, thanks to its medium chain fats that are easily digested and used for energy.
Coconut oil is filling and can help to keep your thyroid running smoothly. Swapping out vegetable oils for coconut oil in your cooking is a simple way to add another fat-burning food to your diet.
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
Not only are cruciferous vegetables — like kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts — bursting with good-for-you ingredients, they’re also some of the best fat-burning foods because they are nutritionally dense, high in volume and low in calories.
The benefits your body gets for the amount of calories contained in these vegetables means you’re getting more bang for your nutritional buck. Packed with vitamins, you can chow down on these veggies guilt-free. Consumption of cruciferous veggies has been linked to protection against obesity and leptin resistance.
Recent findings suggest that consuming naturally occurring isothiocyanate compounds from these veggies has the potential to improve leptin responsiveness which leads to feelings of fullness and reduced appetite.
Ghee, a clarified butter originally made popular in India, is a surprising fat-burning food for weight loss. Because of its high smoke point, ghee retains its phytonutrients during cooking.
As a bonus, it’s also appropriate for lactose- and casein-sensitive individuals. And, thanks to the medium-chain fatty acids it contains, ghee can actually help your body burn other fats.
Enzymes found in the fruit help your body break down sugar, helping to boost your metabolism and — you got it — drop those pounds. Try adding a slice of grapefruit to boost your breakfast or squeezing the fresh juice into a glass of water.
Bonus: Even just sniffing grapefruit essential oil can help increase your metabolism. Dab it on your wrists to curb your snack cravings.
10. Grass-fed Beef
Red meat has often been stigmatized as unhealthy, but it’s a widespread misconception. Instead, “you are what you eat” is an adage that rings especially true with grass-fed beef.
Skipping the lower-quality versions and splurging on quality beef means you’ll be nourishing your body with one of the highest sources of protein, helping to encourage weight loss.
You might not suspect that beef is one of the best fat-burning foods for men, but eating beef can actually help to control your appetite and satisfy hunger. Beef is a source of healthy fat called conjugated linoleic acid, which seems to promote weight loss and fat burning in adults who are overweight.
You’ll also ingest higher levels of vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron, antioxidants and good fats when you make the switch to grass-fed beef.
11. Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard are chock-full of nutrients such as vitamins K, A and C and iron. These are some of the best fat-burning foods for vegans and omnivores alike, since they are low in calories, high in fiber and supply essential nutrients.
There’s evidence that obtaining more fiber, electrolytes and antioxidants from veggies can help keep your appetite in check, prevent obesity, support muscle function and facilitate recovery from workouts. They’re also packed with vitamin K, which keeps bones strong and helps ward off osteoporosis, keeping your body moving normally well into old age.
12. Matcha Green Tea
Green tea isn’t just beneficial due to its antioxidant content; it’s also been shown to be a natural fat burning beverage, in part due to its caffeine. Sipping on a cup of matcha green tea is not only soothing; drinking it regularly may help to reduce body fat and lower cholesterol levels.
Plus, it helps your body repair more quickly after high-intensity workouts.
13. Kefir and Yogurt
Kefir is a fermented drink similar to yogurt loaded with medicinal benefits. Studies show that fermented dairy products like unsweetened kefir and yogurt can serve as natural belly fat-burning foods since they are filling and provide important nutrients like protein, healthy fatty acids, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Recent literature also suggests that yogurt is a food that facilitates the regulation of energy balance. Studies in humans have shown that consumption of yogurt increases the circulating concentrations of several hormones that make you feel full.
Kefir is packed with probiotics, the (good!) bacteria aiding your body in fighting infections. Probiotics are also good news for those trying to lose weight — eating them is associated with weight loss.
Try swapping kefir for your usual yogurt a few times a week.
14. Rooibos Tea
While rooibos tea is technically an herbal drink, it’s making waves in the weight loss community. Because it contains antioxidant flavonoids and phytochemicals that can help fight inflammation and support a healthy metabolism, it’s a great addition to your routine.
Try it in place of your normal green tea for a healthy, energizing change.
15. Whey Protein
Is there such thing as foods that burn fat while you sleep? While it’s a bit more complicated than this, filling up on protein throughout the day can help to support a strong metabolism and potentially keep you at a healthy weight.
Recent studies support the use of whey protein either as a supplement, ideally combined with resistance exercise, or as part of a weight loss or weight maintenance die, to improve body composition parameters.
Adding whey protein to your breakfast smoothie or taking a daily supplement will support your ability to decrease body fat and increase muscle tone, while also spiking your energy level and stabilizing blood sugar.
Wild-caught salmon is not only a great source of protein, but it’s also an excellent way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and to potentially help with hormonal balance and cardiovascular health, according to some studies.
One study found evidence that omega-3s from fish have potential to act as nutritional therapeutic agents in prevention of obesity-related inflammation.
You’ll also find vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, potassium, phosphorus and more in salmon. An added benefit of all of these nutrients is that eating fish regularly may help boost brain function and your mood, as well as improve immunity, bone health and skin health.
Like green tea, coffee contains both caffeine and antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation, promote alertness and mental well-being, improve stamina during workouts, and potentially control hunger.
Consuming coffee can help to lift your mood, improve decision making, and give you energy to push harder while exercising. Caffeine may also slightly boost your metabolic rate and curb hunger, helping you to stick to a healthy diet and resist temptations.
One study found that consuming caffeine about 30 minutes before a meal helped to suppress energy (calorie) intake during the meal.
Including eggs in your breakfast may help to control your appetite the remainder of the day and enhance weight loss, thanks to their protein and fat content. Compared to sugary foods and refined grains, eggs are more satiating and help to stabilize blood sugar.
Additionally, eggs contain nutrients such as omega-3s, B vitamins, choline and antioxidants (like lutein and zeaxanthin) that may help protect you from a variety of conditions by reducing risk factors for liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. They also supply you with collagen, the protein that helps build and strengthen skin, joints and connective tissue.
For the greatest nutrient content, avoid conventional eggs and purchase only certified organic, pastured eggs, preferably from a local farmer if possible.
19. Oatmeal/Oat Bran
One hundred percent whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley, etc. are some of the best sources of fiber, which supports gut health, as well as appetite control, blood sugar balance and more.
Oats’ soluble fiber is present in the outer casing, called the oat bran. Oats contain about 55 percent soluble fiber and 45 percent insoluble fiber.
Fiber takes up a large amount of space in your stomach and absorbs water, helping you to feel satisfied (despite being low in calories) and also keeping you “regular” by preventing constipation and bloating.
It may come as a surprise that oats are a good source of plant-based protein, with more than eight grams in every 2/3 of a cup of dry oats. Certain studies have also found that oat intake has significant effects on controlling hyperglycemia, lowering blood lipids and reducing weight.
Just be sure to buy unsweetened rolled oats, oat bran or steel cut oats for the most benefits.
20. Legumes and Beans
Beans/legumes are one of the most affordable sources of protein, fiber, antioxidants like flavonoids, and numerous vitamins and minerals such as folate and magnesium.
Studies have linked regular consumption of legumes and beans (including black, navy, and white beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.) as part of a mostly plant-based diet with enhanced protection against obesity, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and common nutrient deficiencies.
Consuming fiber found in beans is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease since it helps balance unhealthy cholesterol levels while removing waste and toxins from the body.
Certain studies have shown that consuming resistant starch found in beans can help control your appetite and lead to significant reductions in unhealthy body fat, as well as offering help with blood sugar management and digestive function.