Quantcast

12 Healthy Fat-Burning Foods

Popular
Wikipedia

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

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 12 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 (1, 2, 3).

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 (4).

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 (5).

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 coconut or 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 (6, 7).

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 (8).

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

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.

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 (12).

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 (13).

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

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 (18).

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 (19, 20).

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 (21, 22).

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 (23).

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 (5).

In fact, one of the reasons eggs are so filling may be due to the boost in calorie burning that occurs during protein digestion (24).

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. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is loaded with health benefits.

Adding coconut oil to your diet appears to increase "good" HDL cholesterol and decrease your triglycerides, in addition to helping you lose weight (25, 26).

In one study, obese men who added 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day to their usual diet lost an average of 1 inch (2.5 cm) from their waist without making any other diet changes or increasing their physical activity (27).

The fats in coconut oil are mostly MCTs, which have been credited with appetite-suppressing and fat-burning properties (28, 29).

However, some studies suggest that its metabolism-boosting effects may decrease over time (7, 30).

Unlike most oils, coconut oil remains stable at high temperatures, making it ideal for high-heat cooking.

Consuming up to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily may help maximize fat burning. Make sure to start with a teaspoon or so and gradually increase the amount to avoid any digestive discomfort.

Summary: Coconut oil is rich in MCTs, which may increase your metabolism, reduce appetite, promote fat loss and reduce heart disease risk factors.

6. 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 (31, 32).

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 (33, 34, 35, 36).

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 (37).

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 (38, 39).

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.

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.

7. 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 (40, 41).

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 (42, 43).

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 (44).

Moreover, whey appears to boost fat burning and promote weight loss in lean people and those who are overweight or obese (45).

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 (46).

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.

8. 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 (47, 48).

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 (49, 50, 51).

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 (52).

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.

Summary: Apple cider vinegar may help suppress appetite, promote loss of belly fat and reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.

9. 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 (53).

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 (54).

What's more, this compound may also help you burn more calories and lose body fat (55, 56).

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 (57).

One large review of 20 studies concluded that taking capsaicin helps reduce appetite and can increase the number of calories you burn by about 50 calories per day (58).

Consider eating chili peppers or using powdered cayenne pepper to spice up your meals several times a week.

Summary: Compounds in cayenne pepper have been found to reduce inflammation, help control hunger and boost metabolic rate.

10. Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

Although it receives less press than green tea, it has many of the same health benefits, thanks to its content of caffeine and catechins.

A review of several studies found that the combination of catechins and caffeine in tea increased calorie burning by an impressive 102 calories per day, on average (59).

Small studies in men and women suggest that drinking oolong tea increases metabolic rate and promotes weight loss. What's more, one study found that oolong tea increased calorie burning twice as much as green tea did (60, 61, 62).

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.

Summary: Oolong tea contains caffeine and catechins, both of which have been found to increase metabolic rate and promote fat loss.

11. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

Full-fat Greek yogurt is extremely nutritious.

First, it's an excellent source of protein, potassium and calcium.

Research suggests that high-protein dairy products can boost fat loss, protect muscle during weight loss and help you feel full and satisfied (63, 64).

Also, yogurt that contains probiotics can help keep your gut healthy and may reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as constipation and bloating (65).

Full-fat Greek yogurt also contains conjugated linoleic acid, which seems to promote weight loss and fat burning in overweight and obese people, according to research that includes a large review of 18 studies (66, 67, 68, 69).

Eating Greek yogurt on a regular basis may provide a number of health benefits. But make sure to choose plain, full-fat Greek yogurt, as non-fat and low-fat dairy products contain little to no conjugated linoleic acid.

Summary: Full-fat Greek yogurt may increase fat burning, reduce appetite, protect muscle mass during weight loss and improve gut health.

12. Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on earth.

Olive oil has been shown to lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and stimulate the release of GLP-1, one of the hormones that helps keep you full (70).

What's more, some studies have shown that olive oil may boost metabolic rate and promote fat loss (71, 72, 73).

In a small study in 12 postmenopausal women with abdominal obesity, eating extra virgin olive oil as part of a meal significantly increased the number of calories the women burned for several hours (71).

To incorporate olive oil into your daily diet, drizzle a couple of tablespoons on your salad or add it to cooked food.

Summary: Olive oil appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, promote feelings of fullness and boost metabolic rate.

The Bottom Line

Despite what certain supplement manufacturers may suggest, there isn't a safe "magic pill" that can help you burn hundreds of extra calories per day.

However, a number of foods and beverages may modestly increase your metabolic rate, in addition to providing other health benefits.

Including several of them in your daily diet may have effects that ultimately lead to fat loss and better overall health.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plateau Creek near De Beque, Colorado, where land has been leased for oil and gas production. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

By Randi Spivak

Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.

Read More Show Less
Global SO2 Emission Hotspot Database / Greenpeace

A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about donations to the Amazon Fund. LeoFFreitas / Moment / Getty Images

By Sue Branford and Thais Borges

Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:

Given the present circumstances, Norway does not have either the legal or the technical basis for making its annual contribution to the Amazon Fund.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacted with sarcasm to Norway's decision, which had been widely expected. After an official event, he commented: "Isn't Norway the country that kills whales at the North Pole? Doesn't it also produce oil? It has no basis for telling us what to do. It should give the money to Angela Merkel [the German Chancellor] to reforest Germany."

According to its website, the Amazon Fund is a "REDD+ mechanism created to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, as well as to promote the preservation and sustainable use in the Brazilian Amazon." The bulk of funding comes from Norway and Germany.

The annual transfer of funds from developed world donors to the Amazon Fund depends on a report from the Fund's technical committee. This committee meets after the National Institute of Space Research, which gathers official Amazon deforestation data, publishes its annual report with the definitive figures for deforestation in the previous year.

But this year the Amazon Fund's technical committee, along with its steering committee, COFA, were abolished by the Bolsonaro government on 11 April as part of a sweeping move to dissolve some 600 bodies, most of which had NGO involvement. The Bolsonaro government views NGO work in Brazil as a conspiracy to undermine Brazil's sovereignty.

The Brazilian government then demanded far-reaching changes in the way the fund is managed, as documented in a previous article. As a result, the Amazon Fund's technical committee has been unable to meet; Norway says it therefore cannot continue making donations without a favorable report from the committee.

Archer Daniels Midland soy silos in Mato Grosso along the BR-163 highway, where Amazon rainforest has largely been replaced by soy destined for the EU, UK, China and other international markets.

Thaís Borges.

An Uncertain Future

The Amazon Fund was announced during the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, during a period when environmentalists were alarmed at the rocketing rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. It was created as a way of encouraging Brazil to continue bringing down the rate of forest conversion to pastures and croplands.

Government agencies, such as IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, and NGOs shared Amazon Fund donations. IBAMA used the money primarily to enforce deforestation laws, while the NGOs oversaw projects to support sustainable communities and livelihoods in the Amazon.

There has been some controversy as to whether the Fund has actually achieved its goals: in the three years before the deal, the rate of deforestation fell dramatically but, after money from the Fund started pouring into the Amazon, the rate remained fairly stationary until 2014, when it began to rise once again. But, in general, the international donors have been pleased with the Fund's performance, and until the Bolsonaro government came to office, the program was expected to continue indefinitely.

Norway has been the main donor (94 percent) to the Amazon Fund, followed by Germany (5 percent), and Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobrás (1 percent). Over the past 11 years, the Norwegians have made, by far, the biggest contribution: R$3.2 billion ($855 million) out of the total of R$3.4 billion ($903 million).

Up till now the Fund has approved 103 projects, with the dispersal of R$1.8 billion ($478 million). These projects will not be affected by Norway's funding freeze because the donors have already provided the funding and the Brazilian Development Bank is contractually obliged to disburse the money until the end of the projects. But there are another 54 projects, currently being analyzed, whose future is far less secure.

One of the projects left stranded by the dissolution of the Fund's committees is Projeto Frutificar, which should be a three-year project, with a budget of R$29 million ($7.3 million), for the production of açai and cacao by 1,000 small-scale farmers in the states of Amapá and Pará. The project was drawn up by the Brazilian NGO IPAM (Institute of Environmental research in Amazonia).

Paulo Moutinho, an IPAM researcher, told Globo newspaper: "Our program was ready to go when the [Brazilian] government asked for changes in the Fund. It's now stuck in the BNDES. Without funding from Norway, we don't know what will happen to it."

Norway is not the only European nation to be reconsidering the way it funds environmental projects in Brazil. Germany has many environmental projects in the Latin American country, apart from its small contribution to the Amazon Fund, and is deeply concerned about the way the rate of deforestation has been soaring this year.

The German environment ministry told Mongabay that its minister, Svenja Schulze, had decided to put financial support for forest and biodiversity projects in Brazil on hold, with €35 million ($39 million) for various projects now frozen.

The ministry explained why: "The Brazilian government's policy in the Amazon raises doubts whether a consistent reduction in deforestation rates is still being pursued. Only when clarity is restored, can project collaboration be continued."

Bauxite mines in Paragominas, Brazil. The Bolsonaro administration is urging new laws that would allow large-scale mining within Brazil's indigenous reserves.

Hydro / Halvor Molland / Flickr

Alternative Amazon Funding

Although there will certainly be disruption in the short-term as a result of the paralysis in the Amazon Fund, the governors of Brazil's Amazon states, which rely on international funding for their environmental projects, are already scrambling to create alternative channels.

In a press release issued yesterday Helder Barbalho, the governor of Pará, the state with the highest number of projects financed by the Fund, said that he will do all he can to maintain and increase his state partnership with Norway.

Barbalho had announced earlier that his state would be receiving €12.5 million ($11.1 million) to run deforestation monitoring centers in five regions of Pará. Barbalho said: "The state governments' monitoring systems are recording a high level of deforestation in Pará, as in the other Amazon states. The money will be made available to those who want to help [the Pará government reduce deforestation] without this being seen as international intervention."

Amazonas state has funding partnerships with Germany and is negotiating deals with France. "I am talking with countries, mainly European, that are interested in investing in projects in the Amazon," said Amazonas governor Wilson Miranda Lima. "It is important to look at Amazônia, not only from the point of view of conservation, but also — and this is even more important — from the point of view of its citizens. It's impossible to preserve Amazônia if its inhabitants are poor."

Signing of the EU-Mercusor Latin American trading agreement earlier this year. The pact still needs to be ratified.

Council of Hemispheric Affairs

Looming International Difficulties

The Bolsonaro government's perceived reluctance to take effective measures to curb deforestation may in the longer-term lead to a far more serious problem than the paralysis of the Amazon Fund.

In June, the European Union and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, reached an agreement to create the largest trading bloc in the world. If all goes ahead as planned, the pact would account for a quarter of the world's economy, involving 780 million people, and remove import tariffs on 90 percent of the goods traded between the two blocs. The Brazilian government has predicted that the deal will lead to an increase of almost $100 billion in Brazilian exports, particularly agricultural products, by 2035.

But the huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about ratifying the deal. In an interview with Mongabay, the German environment ministry made it very clear that Germany is very worried about events in the Amazon: "We are deeply concerned given the pace of destruction in Brazil … The Amazon Forest is vital for the atmospheric circulation and considered as one of the tipping points of the climate system."

The ministry stated that, for the trade deal to go ahead, Brazil must carry out its commitment under the Paris Climate agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. The German environment ministry said: If the trade deal is to go ahead, "It is necessary that Brazil is effectively implementing its climate change objectives adopted under the [Paris] Agreement. It is precisely this commitment that is expressly confirmed in the text of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement."

Blairo Maggi, Brazil agriculture minister under the Temer administration, and a major shareholder in Amaggi, the largest Brazilian-owned commodities trading company, has said very little in public since Bolsonaro came to power; he's been "in a voluntary retreat," as he puts it. But Maggi is so concerned about the damage Bolsonaro's off the cuff remarks and policies are doing to international relationships he decided to speak out earlier this week.

Former Brazil Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, who has broken a self-imposed silence to criticize the Bolsonaro government, saying that its rhetoric and policies could threaten Brazil's international commodities trade.

Senado Federal / Visualhunt / CC BY

Maggi, a ruralista who strongly supports agribusiness, told the newspaper, Valor Econômico, that, even if the European Union doesn't get to the point of tearing up a deal that has taken 20 years to negotiate, there could be long delays. "These environmental confusions could create a situation in which the EU says that Brazil isn't sticking to the rules." Maggi speculated. "France doesn't want the deal and perhaps it is taking advantage of the situation to tear it up. Or the deal could take much longer to ratify — three, five years."

Such a delay could have severe repercussions for Brazil's struggling economy which relies heavily on its commodities trade with the EU. Analysists say that Bolsonaro's fears over such an outcome could be one reason for his recently announced October meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, another key trading partner.

Maggi is worried about another, even more alarming, potential consequence of Bolsonaro's failure to stem illegal deforestation — Brazil could be hit by a boycott by its foreign customers. "I don't buy this idea that the world needs Brazil … We are only a player and, worse still, replaceable." Maggi warns, "As an exporter, I'm telling you: things are getting very difficult. Brazil has been saying for years that it is possible to produce and preserve, but with this [Bolsonaro administration] rhetoric, we are going back to square one … We could find markets closed to us."

Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
Gina Lopez, the Philippine secretary of the environment, at a meeting with residents affected by a mine tailing disaster. Keith Schneider

Gina Lopez, a former Philippine environment secretary, philanthropist and eco-warrior, died on Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 65.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Trump speaks to contractors at the Shell Chemicals Petrochemical Complex on Aug. 13 in Monaca, Pennsylvania. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

Thousands of union members at a multibillion dollar petrochemical plant outside of Pittsburgh were given a choice last week: Stand and wait for a speech by Donald Trump or take the day off without pay.

Read More Show Less
Regis Lagrange / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA

Lemon (Citrus limon) is a common citrus fruit, alongside grapefruits, limes, and oranges (1).

Read More Show Less
A zero-emission electric car in Vail, Colorado on July 31. Sharon Hahn Darlin / CC BY 2.0

By Simon Mui

States across the country are stepping up to make clean cars cheaper and easier to find. Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted Friday to adopt a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program that will increase the availability of electric vehicles in the state, improve air quality and increase transportation affordability.

Read More Show Less