36 Foods That Burn Fat, Boost Metabolism and Shrink Your Waistline
Physical activity is important for keeping your body healthy, but diet is the key factor in weight loss and it should include many foods that support you in that process, such as fat-burning foods. These foods do not actually burn fat off your body. Their secret is that they help you manage your weight by improving your metabolism and digestion, satisfying your palate, and filling you up so you’re not constantly hungry and looking for unhealthy snacks.
Fiber-Rich Foods Support Your Digestive System
A study revealed that foods with a high-fiber content lead to weight loss. (11) That is especially true for people who stick to a few standard foods and don’t follow a diet that is rich in a variety of foods. The researchers were interested in finding out whether increasing only one nutrient in someone’s diet would lead to weight loss.
The experiment was successful. The researchers discovered that the participants who simply added more fiber-rich foods to their diet dropped 2.1 kg, or more than 4.5 lbs, in weight in 12 months. If you don’t wish to change your diet drastically, increasing your fiber intake can help you lose more weight, even if nothing else changes.
6 Fiber-Rich Foods (+ Bonus Recipes)
The good thing about fiber is that you can get it from any fruit so eating a few more bananas, apples, and berries will do the job without much effort. If you want to get a lot of fiber quickly, snack on passionfruit, add some avocado to your salad or toast, or have a raspberry smoothie. If you love to cook healthy, nutritious recipes made with whole foods, here are 10 fiber-filled lunch and dinner recipes and a recipe for healthy, delicious, and fibrous cookie dough.
Low Glycemic Foods Lower Blood Sugar
Processed and refined foods such as white bread and white rice can spike your blood sugar and can even lead to type 2 diabetes, as researchers discovered. (6) Whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, and grains tend to be low glycemic foods, which means that they help keep your blood sugar levels down. High glycemic foods convert carbohydrates into glucose faster than low glycemic foods which are digested more slowly. (3)
A study proved that low glycemic foods are good for weight loss and for managing glucose and insulin metabolism. The participants followed three different types of diets for 6 months: a moderate carbohydrate and high glycemic diet, a moderate carbohydrate and low glycemic diet, and a low-fat and high glycemic diet. The low glycemic diet group lost the most weight and it also had a greater decrease in fasting insulin and higher insulin sensitivity than the other groups. (8)
7 Low-GI Snack Ideas
Even if you’re great at cooking meals with whole foods, sometimes you might want to snack on something because you don’t have time to cook a proper meal. It’s easy to fall into the trap of eating a packaged sugary snack because it’s convenient, but you can make healthy snacks that are quick and easy and most importantly they don’t spike your blood sugar.
Cut up some vegetables such as baby carrots, broccoli, and celery and dip them in hummus or baba ghanoush. Snack on some unsalted cashews or almonds or any other nuts you like. You can even make a sandwich with your favorite veggies and whole grain bread. Keep a list of snacks that you like so that you can always have them in your kitchen and you can get ideas when you don’t know what to eat.
High Satiety Foods Fight Overeating
Hunger and satiety play a crucial role in weight loss. If you eat less, you can quickly lose some weight, but eating less makes you hungrier and leads you to overeat and gain more weight. Postponing meals is not an effective or long-term solution to weight management. Eating food that makes you feel full can successfully help you lose weight because when you satisfy your hunger you don’t overeat.
A study found that some foods can make you feel more satiated than other foods. For example, potatoes are a high satiety food because they keep you feeling fuller for longer than donuts, which are a low satiety food. The participants of this study ate different types of foods including pastries, snacks, breakfast cereals, protein-rich and carbohydrate-rich foods, and fruits and rated their satiety from extremely hungry to extremely full. Pastries were the least satisfying foods in terms of fullness, whereas fruits had the highest satiety score. (5)
6 Filling Foods
That’s good news because fruit is an easy snack and appropriate for any time of the day. They are also versatile and you can eat them in many ways including in smoothies, fruit salads, and even ice cream. Fruit are also one of the most fiber-rich foods, so that’s an added bonus. Other ingredients that are high on the satiety-index are potatoes, eggs, beans and lentils, and plain popcorn.
Low-Calorie Whole Foods
Researchers studied more than 200 obese participants who were following a one-year weight loss program. The participants followed a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks and then tried to maintain their weight for 40 weeks. At the end of year, the participants did not only lose weight, but improved their glucose metabolism as well as their triglyceride and cholesterol levels. (15)
Calories are not the only factor that makes or breaks weight loss and weight management, but they should be taken into account. If you consume high-calorie foods and you don’t exercise daily, it’s possible to gain weight even if you eat a healthy, nutritious diet. You don’t need to starve to achieve weight loss; the trick is to eliminate processed and refined foods from your diet and eat a variety of low-calorie whole foods. Plants are usually low-calorie foods so you can eat fewer calories and feel full at the same time.
11 Low-Cal Snack Ideas
Go for low-calorie fruits and vegetables that are full of water and fiber such as cabbage, cucumber, watermelon, and grapefruit. Add beans and lentils to your stews because they are an excellent source of protein and fill you up. Have oats for breakfast and plain popcorn as a snack because it has so few calories you can eat it until you’re full. Use apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or hot sauce as condiments or for salad dressing to flavor your food without extra calories. Check out these 40 low-calorie foods that you can incorporate into your meals and 15 delicious desserts with as low as 20 calories per serving.
Fat-Burning Foods With Unique Properties
Pine Oil Suppresses Appetite
Some foods are reported to have properties that can suppress your appetite. Pine oil that is made of pine nuts is said to be an appetite suppressant. A study tested a Korean pine nut oil product to determine whether pine oil can actually suppress appetite. The researchers recruited 42 overweight women and gave pine oil to one group and olive oil to another group 30 minutes before both groups had a buffet lunch where they ate anything and as much as they wanted.
The study concluded that pine nut oil did suppress appetite by 9% because the women in the pine oil group ate less food than the olive oil group. The explanation could be that pine oil increases the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that is responsible for the digestion of fat and protein, and glucagon-like peptide-1, another digestive hormone that increases insulin sensitivity and promotes slower digestion. (7)
You can use pine oil for cooking, but you can also eat pine nuts plain, put them in your salad, and even include them in recipes such as this amazing vegetable casserole.
Hot Spices Stimulate Fat Metabolism
A study performed on rats found that capsaicin, a substance that you can find in hot red peppers, has the potential to lower triglyceride levels. The study reported that feeding capsaicin to rats lowered their triglycerides and as the amount of capsaicin increased, triglyceride levels decreased. (9)
Triglycerides are found in fat cells and their job is to take fatty acids and store them as body fat. When the body needs energy, hormones force triglycerides to release those fatty acids, which travel to your organs and tissues. (1) Triglycerides are important for your health because they help you metabolize fat, but in high numbers they can cause metabolic syndrome and even heart disease. (14)
It’s easy to eat capsaicin by putting spices such as paprika and chili powder in your recipes. Make this fat-burning zucchini noodle recipe and take it to the next level by adding red pepper flakes.
Coffee Helps Lower Fat
Coffee has two compounds that help lower fat: chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid. A study showed that both compounds improved weight loss in obese rats. The animals were fed a high-fat diet and were given chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, or nothing. Both compounds reduced body weight and abdominal body fat and lowered insulin, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels, especially in the liver and heart. (2)
Coffee can do more than simply keep you awake so try making a fat-burning homemade coffee creamer with anti-inflammatory turmeric and soothing lavender.
Green Tea Burns Belly Fat
Green tea is rich in catechins which is a natural antioxidant. Researchers recruited 240 men and women with abdominal fat and instructed them to drink green tea every day for 12 weeks while following their usual diet and physical activity during these weeks. One group drank green tea containing 583mg of catechins while the other group’s tea had 98mg of catechins.
The group that consumed more catechins experienced more weight loss and fat loss in their waist, abdomen, and hips compared to the other group. The first group also had a decrease in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. (12)
You can drink green tea daily and even better, you can make matcha green tea, which is powdered green tea leaves. One cup of matcha green tea is equal to 10 cups of green tea! You can even make green tea desserts, such as these tasty mini green tea cheesecakes.
Apple Cider Vinegar Breaks Down Fatty Acids
Acetic acid is found in vinegar and it is often used as a medicine to treat various conditions. A study found that acetic acid is also beneficial for weight loss. Mice were fed a high-fat diet and were given either water or acetic acid for 6 weeks. The researchers discovered that without changing the high-fat diet, acetic acid prevented fat from being accumulated in the body and especially in the liver. This happened because acetic acid increased the proteins that break down fatty acid molecules. (10)
It’s very easy to get the benefits of apple cider vinegar by drinking one tablespoon daily. If you think the taste is too strong, you can mask it by adding it to tea and salad, or by making vinaigrette and other recipes such as this filling zucchini loaf. You can even make your own homemade apple cider vinegar.
Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Having low insulin sensitivity means that your body has difficulty metabolising glucose, so it needs to produce more insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. Extra insulin can cause many health problems including damage to your blood vessels and heart, as well as obesity. (4)
A study showed that blueberries have compounds that can increase your sensitivity to insulin. The participants had two smoothies every day for 6 weeks. One group had a blueberry smoothie and another group had a smoothie without blueberries, but with the same nutritional value. By the end of the study, the participants in the blueberry smoothie group had better insulin sensitivity than the other group. (13)
Blueberries are very versatile, so eat them as a snack, add them to yogurt or in any fruit smoothie, bake classic blueberry muffins and make cheesecake. You can also make blueberry syrup to substitute any natural and artificial sweetener.
Food is one of the most important aspects of your daily life, but it can be challenging to know what’s best for your physical health. That’s why it’s important to know the factors that help you maintain a healthy and nutritious diet and lead you to successful weight loss.
(1) Britannica. (n.d.) Mobilization of fatty acids.
(2) Cho, A., Jeon, S., Kim, M., Yeo, J., Seo, K., Choi, M., & Lee, M. (2010). Chlorogenic acid exhibits anti-obesity property and improves lipid metabolism in high-fat diet-induced-obese mice. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 48(3), 937–943.
(3) Dansinger, M. (2017). How to Use the Glycemic Index.
(4) Diabetes.co.uk (n.d.). Insulin Sensitivity.
(5) Holt, S. H., Miller, J. C., Petocz, P., & Farmakalidis E. (1995). A satiety index of common foods. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 49(9), 675-90.
(6) Hu, E. A., Pan, A., Malik, V., & Sun, (2012). White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. BMJ, 1012(344).
(7) Hughes, G. M., Boyland, E. J., Williams, N. J., Mennen, L., Scott, C., Kirkham, T. C., . . . Halford, J. C. G. (2008). The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin™) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids in Health and Disease, 7(6).
(8) Juanola-Falgarona, M., Salas-Salvadó, J., Ibarrola-Jurado, N., Rabassa-Soler, A., Díaz-López, A., Guasch-Ferré, M1., . . . R., Bulló, M. (2014). Effect of the glycemic index of the diet on weight loss, modulation of satiety, inflammation, and other metabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(1), 27-35.
(9) Kawada, T., Hagihara, K. & Iwai, K. (1986). Effects of Capsaicin on Lipid Metabolism in Rats Fed a High Fat Diet. The Journal of Nutrition, 116 (7), 1272-1278.
(10) Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., & Kaga, T. (2009). Acetic Acid Upregulates the Expression of Genes for Fatty Acid Oxidation Enzymes in Liver To Suppress Body Fat Accumulation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57(13), 5982–5986.
(11) Ma, Y., Olendzki, B. C., Wang, J., Persuitte, G. M., Li, W., Fang, H., . . . Pagoto, S. L. (2015). Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(4), 248-257.
(12) Nagao, T., Hase, T., & Tokimitsu, I. (2007). A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans. Obesity, 15(6), 1473–1483.
(13) Stull, A. J., Cash, K. C., Johnson, W. D., Champagne, C. M., & Cefalu, W. T. (2010). Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women, Journal of Nutrition, 140(10), 1764-1768.
(14) WebMD. (n.d.) High Triglycerides – Topic Overview.
(15) Winkler, J. K., Schultz, J. H., Woehning, A., Piel, D., Gartner, L., Hildebrand, M., . . . Rudofsky, G. (2013). Effectiveness of a low-calorie weight loss program in moderately and severely obese patients. Obesity Facts, 6(5):469-80.
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