Boosting your metabolic rate can help you lose body fat.
However, most “fat-burning” supplements on the market are either unsafe, ineffective or both.
Fortunately, several natural foods and beverages have been shown to increase your metabolism and promote fat loss.
Here are 11 healthy foods that help you burn fat.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is delicious and incredibly good for you.
Salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel and other oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease heart disease risk (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may help you lose body fat.
In a six-week controlled study in 44 adults, those who took fish oil supplements lost an average of 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilograms) of fat and experienced a drop in cortisol, a stress hormone that’s associated with fat storage (4Trusted Source).
What’s more, fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein. Digesting protein leads to greater feelings of fullness and increases metabolic rate significantly more than digesting fat or carbs (5Trusted Source).
To boost fat loss and protect heart health, include a minimum of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fatty fish in your diet at least twice a week.
Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that may promote fat loss. Fish is also rich in protein, which helps you feel full and boosts metabolic rate during digestion.
2. MCT Oil
MCT oil is made by extracting MCTs from palm oil. It is available online and at natural grocery stores.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat that’s metabolized differently than the long-chain fatty acids found in most foods.
Due to their shorter length, MCTs are rapidly absorbed by the body and go straight to the liver, where they can be used immediately for energy or converted into ketones for use as an alternative fuel source.
One study in eight healthy men found adding 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of MCTs per day to the men’s usual diets increased their metabolic rate by 5% over a 24-hour period, meaning they burned an average of 120 extra calories per day (8Trusted Source).
Replacing some of the fat in your diet with 2 tablespoons of MCT oil per day may optimize fat burning.
However, it’s best to start with 1 teaspoon daily and gradually increase the dosage in order to minimize potential digestive side effects like cramping, nausea and diarrhea.
MCTs are rapidly absorbed for immediate use as an energy source. MCT oil may increase fat burning, decrease hunger and protect muscle mass during weight loss.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide.
It’s a great source of caffeine, which can enhance mood and improve mental and physical performance (12Trusted Source).
Moreover, it can help you burn fat.
In a small study including nine people, those who took caffeine an hour before exercise burned nearly twice as much fat and were able to exercise 17% longer than the non-caffeine group (13Trusted Source).
In one study, people took 100 mg of caffeine every two hours for 12 hours. Lean adults burned an average of 150 extra calories and formerly obese adults burned 79 extra calories during the study time period (18Trusted Source).
To get the fat-burning benefits of caffeine without the potential side effects, such as anxiousness or insomnia, aim for 100–400 mg per day. This is the amount found in about 1–4 cups of coffee, depending on its strength.
Coffee contains caffeine, which has been shown to improve mental and physical performance, in addition to boosting metabolism.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse.
Although egg yolks used to be avoided due to their high cholesterol content, whole eggs have actually been shown to help protect heart health in those at increased risk of disease (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Additionally, eggs are a killer weight loss food.
In a controlled eight-week study in 21 men, those who ate three eggs for breakfast consumed 400 fewer calories per day and had a 16% greater reduction in body fat, compared to the group who ate a bagel breakfast (23Trusted Source).
In fact, one of the reasons eggs are so filling may be due to the boost in calorie burning that occurs during protein digestion (24Trusted Source).
Eating three eggs several times a week can help you burn fat while keeping you full and satisfied.
Eggs are a high-protein food that may help reduce hunger, increase fullness, boost fat burning and protect heart health.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is an excellent beverage choice for good health.
In addition to providing a moderate amount of caffeine, green tea is an excellent source of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that promotes fat burning and the loss of belly fat (27Trusted Source, 28, 29, 30Trusted Source).
In a study of 12 healthy men, fat burning during bicycling increased by 17% in those who took green tea extract, compared to those who took a placebo (31Trusted Source).
Given the difference in study outcomes, green tea’s effects likely vary from person to person and may also depend on the amount consumed.
Drinking up to four cups of green tea daily may provide a number of health benefits, including potentially increasing the amount of calories you burn.
Green tea contains caffeine and EGCG, both of which may boost metabolism, promote weight loss, protect heart health and reduce the risk of cancer.
6. Whey Protein
Whey protein is pretty impressive.
In addition, whey protein seems to be even more effective at suppressing appetite than other protein sources.
One study had 22 men consume different protein drinks on four separate days. They experienced significantly lower hunger levels and ate fewer calories at the next meal after drinking the whey protein drink, compared to the other protein drinks (38Trusted Source).
In one study of 23 healthy adults, a whey protein meal was found to increase metabolic rate and fat burning more than casein or soy protein meals (40Trusted Source).
A whey protein shake is a quick meal or snack option that promotes fat loss and may help improve your body composition.
SUMMARY: Whey protein appears to increase muscle growth, reduce appetite, increase fullness and boost metabolism more effectively than other protein sources.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an ancient folk remedy with evidence-based health benefits.
What’s more, vinegar’s main component, acetic acid, has been found to increase fat burning and reduce belly fat storage in several animal studies (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
Although there isn’t much research on vinegar’s effect on fat loss in humans, the results from one study are pretty encouraging.
In this study, 144 obese men who added 2 tablespoons of vinegar to their usual diets every day for 12 weeks lost 3.7 pounds (1.7 kilograms) and experienced a 0.9% reduction in body fat (46Trusted Source).
Including apple cider vinegar in your diet may help you lose body fat. Start with 1 teaspoon per day diluted in water and gradually work up to 1–2 tablespoons per day to minimize potential digestive discomfort.
Apple cider vinegar may help suppress appetite, promote loss of belly fat and reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.
8. Chili Peppers
Chili peppers do more than add heat to your food.
Their powerful antioxidants may reduce inflammation and help protect your cells from damage (47Trusted Source).
In addition, research suggests that one antioxidant in chili peppers called capsaicin may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
It does this by promoting fullness and preventing overeating (48Trusted Source).
In a study of 19 healthy adults, when calorie intake was restricted by 20%, capsaicin was found to counteract the slowdown in metabolic rate that typically occurs with decreased calorie intake (51Trusted Source).