We look at our top 4 fat-burning foods that have been shown to increase metabolism, which in turn can help you lose body fat.
You will have noticed that there are increasing numbers of commercially available ‘fat-burning’ supplements. Many of these are both unsafe and ineffective and you need to be very careful.
Fortunately, many natural foods and drinks have also been shown to increase metabolism, which can help you lose body fat. The following healthy foods are known to be excellent fat-burning foods;
Not only is fish delicious, it’s also incredibly good for you. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and sardines all contain omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of heart disease (1, 2, 3). Omega-3 fatty acids can also help you to lose body fat. A six week controlled study in forty four adults showed participants who took fish oil supplements managed to lose on average half a kilo of fat and saw a drop in their cortisol hormone levels – a stress hormone associated with fat storage (4).
Fish is also rich in protein which means that consuming it can lead to greater levels of satiety and your metabolic rate increases significantly more than if you were digesting fats or carbohydrates (5).
One of our favourite and most popular drinks, coffee is an excellent source of caffeine which can lead to an enhanced mood and improved physical and mental performance (6). More importantly, coffee can help burn fat. A small study found that those who consumed caffeine an hour before working out were able to exercise for seventeen percent longer than the group who didn’t consume caffeine (7).
Research shows that although it depends on the amount of caffeine intake and the individuals response, caffeine can increase the metabolic rate by up to thirteen percent (8, 9, 10). One study found that when participants were taking one hundred milligrams of caffeine every two hours for twelve hours, the lean adults were burning around an average of one hundred and fifty extra calories and formerly obese adults were burning seventy nine extra calories during the period of the study (11).
Eggs are extremely nutritional and studies show that egg-based breakfasts can reduce hunger along with promoting feelings of fullness for several hours in individuals who are obese or overweight (12, 13). A controlled study which lasted eight weeks found that men who ate three eggs for breakfast were consuming four hundred less calories per day and had a sixteen percent reduction in their body fat when compared to the control group who were eating a bagel breakfast (14).
As eggs are rich in high quality protein, they can increase the metabolic rate by up to thirty five percent for several hours after they have been consumed (15). One of the reasons as to why eggs are so fulfilling is due to the increase in calorie burning which happens during protein digestion (16).
Greek yogurt which is full fat is very nutritious and an excellent source of protein, potassium and calcium. As mentioned above research suggests that high protein foods can promote fat loss and high protein dairy foods protect muscle during weight loss and increase feelings of satiety (17, 18). Live Geek yogurt also contains probiotics which are beneficial for reducing unpleasant symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (19).
In terms of fat burning, full fat Greek yogurt contains conjugated linoleic acid. This can promote weight loss and fat burning in those who are overweight or obese (19, 20, 21). It is important to choose full fat Greek yogurt as products which are labelled ‘non-fat’ and ‘low-fat’ contain minimal amounts of conjugated linoleic acid.
It is important to understand that despite what the label says on weight loss supplement products; there isn’t a safe magic pill or shortcut to burning hundreds of extra calories every day. However you can help yourself by choosing to consume foods and beverages which are understood to increase your metabolic rate naturally and many of these include other health benefits. By adding a variety of fat burning foods to your daily diet, you may be able to increase your fat loss and gain better overall health.
For more information on the top fat burning foods, see our nutrition and weight management course.
1. Jung, U.J., Torrejon, C., Tighe, A.P. and Deckelbaum, R.J., 2008. n− 3 Fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: mechanisms underlying beneficial effects–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(6), pp.2003S-2009S.
2. Ellulu, M.S., Khaza’ai, H., Patimah, I., Rahmat, A. and Abed, Y., 2016. Effect of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on inflammation and metabolic markers in hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Food & nutrition research, 60(1), p.29268.
3. Robinson, L.E. and Mazurak, V.C., 2013. N‐3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Relationship to Inflammation in Healthy Adults and Adults Exhibiting Features of Metabolic Syndrome. Lipids, 48(4), pp.319-332.
4. Noreen, E.E., Sass, M.J., Crowe, M.L., Pabon, V.A., Brandauer, J. and Averill, L.K., 2010. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), p.31.
5. Halton, T.L. and Hu, F.B., 2004. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), pp.373-385.
6. Ruxton, C.H.S., 2008. The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 33(1), pp.15-25.
7. Costill, D.L., Dalsky, G.P. and Fink, W.J., 1978. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Medicine and science in sports, 10(3), pp.155-158.
8. Kim, T.W., Shin, Y.O., Lee, J.B., Min, Y.K. and Yang, H.M., 2010. Effect of caffeine on the metabolic responses of lipolysis and activated sweat gland density in human during physical activity. Food Science and Biotechnology, 19(4), pp.1077-1081.
9. Koot, P. and Deurenberg, P., 1995. Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption. Annals of nutrition and metabolism, 39(3), pp.135-142.
10. Acheson, K.J., Gremaud, G., Meirim, I., Montigon, F., Krebs, Y., Fay, L.B., Gay, L.J., Schneiter, P., Schindler, C. and Tappy, L., 2004. Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 79(1), pp.40-46.
11. Dulloo, A.G., Geissler, C.A., Horton, T., Collins, A. and Miller, D.S., 1989. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 49(1), pp.44-50.
12. Vander Wal, J.S., Marth, J.M., Khosla, P., Jen, K.C. and Dhurandhar, N.V., 2005. Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 24(6), pp.510-515.
13. Ratliff, J., Leite, J.O., de Ogburn, R., Puglisi, M.J., VanHeest, J. and Fernandez, M.L., 2010. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutrition Research, 30(2), pp.96-103.
14. Vander Wal, J.S., Gupta, A., Khosla, P. and Dhurandhar, N.V., 2008. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 32(10), p.1545.
15. Halton, T.L. and Hu, F.B., 2004. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), pp.373-385.
16. Crovetti, R., Porrini, M., Santangelo, A. and Testolin, G., 1998. The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety. European journal of clinical nutrition, 52(7), p.482.
17. Josse, A.R., Atkinson, S.A., Tarnopolsky, M.A. and Phillips, S.M., 2011. Increased Consumption of Dairy Foods and Protein during Diet-and Exercise-Induced Weight Loss Promotes Fat Mass Loss and Lean Mass Gain in Overweight and Obese Premenopausal Women–4. The Journal of nutrition, 141(9), pp.1626-1634.
18. Guyonnet, D., Chassany, O., Ducrotte, P., Picard, C., Mouret, M., Mercier, C.H. and Matuchansky, C., 2007. Effect of a fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium animalis DN‐173 010 on the health‐related quality of life and symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome in adults in primary care: a multicentre, randomized, double‐blind, controlled trial. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 26(3), pp.475-486.
19. Blankson, H., Stakkestad, J.A., Fagertun, H., Thom, E., Wadstein, J. and Gudmundsen, O., 2000. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. The Journal of nutrition, 130(12), pp.2943-2948.
20. Chen, S.C., Lin, Y.H., Huang, H.P., Hsu, W.L., Houng, J.Y. and Huang, C.K., 2012. Effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation on weight loss and body fat composition in a Chinese population. Nutrition, 28(5), pp.559-565.
21. Gaullier, J.M., Halse, J., Høye, K., Kristiansen, K., Fagertun, H., Vik, H. and Gudmundsen, O., 2004. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 79(6), pp.1118-1125.