13 Healthy Foods That Burn Fat Naturally (By a Nutritionist)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: March 29, 2024
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

As a nutritionist and a certified personal trainer, I come to realize that fat-burning supplements are increasingly popular. Still, 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.

Based on our tests, here’s our well-researched list of the best fat-burning foods that you can add to your diet.

Quick Summary

  • Incorporating certain foods into your diet, such as fatty fish, olive oil, and cinnamon, can naturally boost metabolism and promote fat loss.
  • The article highlights fatty fish, olive oil, cinnamon, coconut oil, berries, whey protein, full-fat Greek yogurt, green tea, apple cider vinegar, chili peppers, beans, eggs, and lean meats as effective for burning fat.
  • A six-week study from the PubMed website found that participants taking fish oil supplements lost an average of 1.1 pounds of fat and experienced a reduction in cortisol, a stress hormone linked to fat storage.
  • Based on my experience, emphasizing natural foods over supplements for fat burning seems not only healthier but also more sustainable for long-term weight management.

13 Healthy Foods That Can Help You Burn Fat

If you want to get rid of stubborn fat, here are 13 healthy 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.

Based on my experience, the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish may also help you burn body fat.

A six-week controlled study of 44 adults found on the PubMed website 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.

According to one of the studies found on the PubMed website, 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 fat loss 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

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

Some studies have also found that consuming monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil boosts can help shrink belly fat and contribute to successful long-term weight 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 on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website 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.

Incorporating cinnamon into your diet can help combat belly fat by promoting satiety and regulating blood sugar levels, ultimately contributing to overall weight loss and a slimmer midsection.

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.

I also found out through testing that it is 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

Full-fat greek yogurt 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's catechins can enhance metabolism, making it a beneficial beverage for reducing belly fat, facilitating weight loss, and helping 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.

"Drinking a few cups of green tea, oolong tea, or a combination of the two on a regular basis may promote fat loss and provide other beneficial health effects."

- Jared Meacham, Ph.D., RD, CSCS, a registered dietitian, fitness professional and educator

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 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 are fat-burning vegetables that 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 loss 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.

According to our tests, 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 are foods that increase metabolism and burn fat which has 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.

Related Article: Does Leek Soup Help You 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.

What Are Breakfast Foods That Burn Belly Fat?

Breakfast foods that can help burn belly fat include:

  • High-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, and beans.
  • Healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.
  • Foods rich in antioxidants, like berries, green tea, and dark chocolate.
  • Spices like ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper.

How Do Cooking Methods Affect the Fat-Burning Properties of Foods?

Different cooking methods can significantly impact the nutritional value and fat-burning properties of foods. For example, steaming or grilling can preserve essential nutrients and fat-burning elements in foods like fish and vegetables, whereas frying may diminish these benefits.

Can Combining Fat-Burning Foods with Other Dietary Strategies Enhance Weight Loss?

Yes, integrating fat-burning foods with dietary strategies such as intermittent fasting or low-carb diets can amplify weight loss results. This combination can optimize metabolism and fat burning, leading to more effective weight management.

What is the Role of Gut Microbiota in Fat Burning?

The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in metabolism and weight management. Consuming certain fat-burning foods can positively influence gut health, enhancing the body's ability to burn fat and regulate weight.

Are There Ethnic and Cultural Variations in Fat-Burning Foods?

Absolutely, different cultures and ethnicities incorporate unique fat-burning foods into their diets. Spices used in Asian or African cuisines, for instance, are known for their metabolism-boosting properties and offer a diverse range of options for those seeking to enhance fat burning.

Which Fat-Burning Foods Should Be Consumed in Relation to Different Exercise Regimes?

The choice of fat-burning foods can be tailored to complement different types of exercise regimes. Foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates are ideal for high-intensity workouts, while lighter, nutrient-rich foods may be better suited for activities like yoga or pilates.


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://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18679412/
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

A person planning a diet plan to help burn fat
By Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD 21 days ago
11 Foods That Burn Fat While You Sleep (Proven & Effective)
A person eating a salad bowl
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 25 days ago
11 Foods That Increase Metabolism and Burn Fat (Revealed)
Top view of different variations of fruit
By Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD 5 months ago
5 Fruits You Should Avoid To Burn Fat (From A Nutritionist)
A fit person with loose pants holding a weighing scale
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 5 months ago
How Does the Body Burn Fat? Everything You Need to Know
A woman using a Stairmaster to burn fat
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 3 months ago
Does Stairmaster Burn Fat? 8 Tips to Lose More Weight
A belly fat and a drunk person
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 4 months ago
Does Alcohol Stop Fat Burn? (4 Lose Weight Tips)

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.