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11 Healthy Foods That Help You Burn Fat



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.

SUMMARY:

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.

Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to increase metabolic rate in several studies (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted 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).

In addition, MCTs may reduce hunger and promote better retention of muscle mass during weight loss (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted 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.

Shop for MCT oil online.

SUMMARY:

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.


3. Coffee


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).

Research has shown that caffeine increases metabolic rate by an impressive 3–13%, depending on the amount consumed and individual response (14, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted 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.

SUMMARY:

Coffee contains caffeine, which has been shown to improve mental and physical performance, in addition to boosting metabolism.

4. Eggs


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.

Studies have shown that egg-based breakfasts reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness for several hours in overweight and obese individuals (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

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).

Eggs are also a great source of high-quality protein, which increases metabolic rate by about 20–35% for several hours after eating, based on several studies (5Trusted 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.

SUMMARY:

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.

Studies suggest that it may help reduce heart disease risk and protect against certain types of cancer (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

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).

On the other hand, some studies have found that green tea or green tea extract has little to no effect on metabolism or weight loss (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted 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.

Shop for green tea online.

SUMMARY:

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.

It’s been shown to promote muscle growth when combined with exercise and may help preserve muscle during weight loss (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).

In addition, whey protein seems to be even more effective at suppressing appetite than other protein sources.

This is because it stimulates the release of “fullness hormones,” such as PYY and GLP-1, to a greater extent (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).

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).

Moreover, whey appears to boost fat burning and promote weight loss in lean people and those who are overweight or obese (39Trusted 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.

Shop for whey protein online.

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.

It’s been credited with reducing appetite and lowering blood sugar and insulin levels in people with diabetes (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).

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.

Shop for apple cider vinegar online.

SUMMARY:

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).

What’s more, this compound may also help you burn more calories and lose body fat (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted 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).