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What Are the Best Fat Burning Foods You Can Eat?
For Men & Women

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 3, 2021

Fat-burning supplements are increasingly popular, but health experts often don't recommend them as part of a weight loss program.

That’s because a lifestyle change—including an adjustment in eating habits—is still the best approach when it comes to shedding off the extra pounds.

Luckily, many natural foods and beverages have been proven to boost metabolism and promote weight loss.

Here’s our well-researched list of the best fat-burning foods that you can add to your diet.

13 Healthy Foods That Can Help You Burn Fat

If you want to get rid of stubborn fat, here are some foods and drinks that can help increase your metabolic rate and burn body fat.

1. Fatty Fish

salmon meat sliced in two

Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and other oily fish are loaded with heart-healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids, known to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease.

The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish may also help you burn body fat.

A six-week controlled study in 44 adults showed that those who took fish oil supplements lost an average of 1.1 pounds or 0.5 kilograms of fat.

They also experienced a reduction in cortisol, a stress hormone linked to fat storage.

Fish is also one of the best sources of high-quality protein, and its digestion leads to greater feelings of fullness and boosts metabolic rate more than the digestion of carbs or fat [1].

To burn fat and protect heart health with fatty fish, you must eat at least 100 grams of this animal protein twice a week.

2. Olive Oil

bowl filled with olives and a bottle of oil beside

This healthy fat has been shown to decrease triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol.

Some studies have also found that olive oil boosts metabolic rate and promotes fat loss.

At 14 grams per tablespoon, olive oil is chock full of monounsaturated fats that help you feel full, helping keep your cravings at bay.

A small study involving 12 postmenopausal women with abdominal obesity showed that consuming extra virgin olive oil as part of a meal notably increased the number of calories they burned for several hours [2].

Luckily, adding olive oil to your daily diet is easy. Simply drizzle it on your salad or incorporate it into cooked food to enjoy its benefits.

3. Cinnamon

stack of cinnamon sticks

According to Kelli McGrane, a Registered Dietitian, spices like cinnamon “have been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the accumulation of belly fat.”

These effects may result in a decreased appetite, particularly in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Plus, if you want to add a touch of sweetness to a drink or dish without the extra calories and sugar, you can add a dash of cinnamon to your tea, coffee, or yogurt.

4. Coconut Oil

bottle of oil and fresh sliced coconuts

Coconut oil is an excellent source of medium-chain triglycerides, which reduces appetite and provides fat-burning benefits.

One study found that obese men who added two tablespoons of coconut oil daily to their regular diet lost an average of one inch from their waist.

They achieved this without increasing their physical activity or making any other changes to their diet [3].

So, aside from boosting your “good” cholesterol levels and lowering your triglycerides, coconut oil can also help you lose weight.

5. Berries

close up image of different types of berries

Berries are loaded with water and fiber—two components that can help improve satiety and reduce cravings as you’re burning fat.

They can also satisfy your sweet tooth for a fraction of the calories you would get from unhealthy options like brownies or cookies.

For example, one cup of blueberries only contains 84 calories and 3.6 grams of fiber.  It also helps that they’re virtually satisfying, as they take up a lot of space on a plate.

Additionally, colorful raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are all packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that may support your immune system.

6. Whey Protein

scattered powdered whey protein and a scooper

Whey protein may help build muscle when combined with exercise and preserve muscle mass during weight loss.

It also appears to be more effective at reducing appetite than other protein sources.

In one study, 22 men who were made to take different protein drinks over four days experienced lower hunger levels and ate fewer calories at the next meal after consuming whey protein, compared to other protein drinks [4].

Whey protein also increases fat-burning, boosts metabolic rate, and promotes weight loss in lean, overweight, and obese people.

If you’re looking to boost fat loss and improve your body composition, try replacing your sugary snacks with a whey protein shake.

7. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

yogurt packed in two glasses and two spoons

This food is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and potassium.

Research suggests that protein-rich dairy products like Greek yogurt may help support fat loss, protect muscle mass during weight loss, and promote satiety since it takes longer to leave the stomach than other yogurts.

Full-fat Greek yogurt is also rich in probiotics that can help improve gut health.

It also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that promotes weight loss and fat-burning in obese and overweight individuals [5].

To enjoy these health benefits, make sure to choose plain, full-fat Greek yogurt since non-fat and low-fat dairy products contain little to no CLA.

8. Green Tea

pressed green tea getting poured in a drinking glass

Green tea is a great source of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that stimulates fat-burning.

To maximize the benefits of this beverage, you may need to drink at least four cups of green tea daily.

Studies have also found that green tea may help lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Although green tea comes in supplement form, a brewed cup of this elixir is still considered the best and safest option for avoiding any possible side effects of green tea extract pills.

9. Apple Cider Vinegar

bottle filled of apple cider vinegar and fresh apples beside

Apple cider vinegar has been credited with appetite-reducing capabilities that can help with weight loss [6].

It may also lower blood sugar and insulin in people with diabetes.

Several animal studies have found that its main component, acetic acid, may increase fat burning and reduce belly fat storage.

Although more research on the effect of vinegar on fat loss in humans is needed, the results from these animal studies are pretty promising.

If you plan to add apple cider vinegar to your regimen, start with one tablespoon diluted in water and gradually work your way up to one to two tablespoons per day to avoid any discomfort in your digestive tract.

Or just take it in a gummy form if you don't like the taste.

10. Chili Peppers

chili peppers in red and green

Besides adding heat to your meals, chili peppers contain potent antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and protect your cells from damage.

In addition, a compound in hot peppers called capsaicin may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight by promoting feelings of fullness and preventing you from overeating.

Capsaicin may also help you burn more calories and reduce fat.

A study of 19 healthy adults who restricted their calorie intake by 20% showed the capsaicin counteracted the decline in metabolic rate that typically comes with a decreased intake of calories [7].

To experience these health benefits, spice up your meal times by adding chili peppers or powdered cayenne pepper to your dishes.

11. Beans

different beans filling bowls and plates

These vegetables are a great source of protein and fiber, both of which can help you feel satisfied with very few calories.

For instance, one cup of garbanzo beans or chickpeas packs almost 15 grams of protein, 12.5 grams of fiber, and only 4 grams of fat.

Additionally, consuming a massive amount of both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber (7 grams) helps prevent blood sugar spikes.

Beans are also good for building muscle and burning fat.

To experience these health benefits, spice up your meal times by adding chili peppers or powdered cayenne pepper to your dishes.

12. Eggs

fresh eggs and a cracked egg in a tray

Each egg provides 75 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 5 grams of good fats.

Although egg yolks used to be avoided because of their high cholesterol content, whole eggs have been shown to protect the heart health of individuals from increased risk of disease.

Egg-based breakfasts have also been found to increase fullness and reduce hunger for several hours in overweight and obese people.

In a controlled eight-week study involving 21 men, those who ate three eggs for breakfast consumed 400 fewer calories daily and showed 16% greater body fat reduction than the group with a bagel breakfast [8].

Several studies have shown that eggs contain high-quality protein that boosts metabolic rate by about 20-35% for several hours after eating.

Eating three eggs several times a week may increase fat-burning and help you stay satisfied and energized, which is ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.

13. Lean Meats

fresh slices of beef meat

If there’s one thing that lean meat is rich in, it’s the macronutrient protein.

And as you may know by now, protein can help you feel full for longer and burn more calories when digested. However, you have to choose your protein carefully.

Stay away from dark meat as it tends to be high in fat, which could defeat some of its benefits. Instead, opt for lean protein sources like skinless chicken breast.

You can also eat beef, but make sure to pick the extra lean ones like the eye of round, flank steak, and top sirloin.

All these meats have less than 4 grams of unsaturated fat per serving. Also, stick to an 85-110 grams portion as much as possible.

FAQs

What Fruits and Vegetables Are Fat Burners?

Fruits such as grapefruit, watermelon, pears, apples, grapes, berries, avocados, and vegetables like chili pepper, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and dark leafy greens loaded with iron are all excellent fat burners.

What Burns Fat Overnight?

Eating foods low in calories and high in fiber and protein are the best foods you can eat to burn fat overnight.

Doing resistance training exercises before bed is also great for fat-burning, as they can help boost your metabolism. Try doing a simple weight lifting routine pre-slumber and follow that up with a low-calorie snack.

Eating small nutritious meals throughout the day will also ensure that you keep burning fat while you’re asleep.

Will You Add These Fat Burning Foods To Your Diet?

Taking the natural route to burn fat and lose weight is still the best way to reach your body goals, despite what certain supplement manufacturers would have you believe.

Luckily, many foods and beverages can help you burn fat and ultimately shed unwanted pounds, in addition to providing other health benefits that can improve your overall well-being.

Try adding these fat-burning foods to your diet, and feel free to share your results in the comments below.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15466943/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14756910
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22164340/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20456814
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11110851/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23979220/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23844093/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18679412

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