20 Fat-burning Foods Scientifically Proven to Help Aid Weight Loss

Fat burning foods
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Fat-burning foods to add to your diet to help aid weight loss, according to research and a nutritional expert.

Don’t you wish there were certain foods that you could eat to help lose weight

Well, there are, and those foods are called fat-burning foods. Fat-burning foods are foods that are scientifically proven to stimulate fat loss when eaten as part of a healthy diet. 

They are particularly effective in boosting metabolism, increasing satiety, and reducing appetite. Eating these foods may aid your weight loss and fat loss over time. 

In this article, we will discuss some of the top foods to eat to lose weight. More specifically, we will discuss the 20 fat-burning foods that will help with weight loss. 

When food is fat burning that means the food causes the body to use the fat it has stored.

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20 Scientifically Proven Fat-Burning Foods to Help Aid Weight Loss

Fat-Burning Foods to Help Aid Weight Loss

These fat-burning foods include:

Food That Increases the Rate We Use Calories

Some foods speed up the digestion and metabolism processes of the body. To put it simply, some foods boost metabolism. 

Foods That Suppress the Appetite

Some foods help us reduce our portion sizes and decrease the number of times we eat by helping us feel full more quickly and for longer. 

Low-Calorie Foods

When we eat fewer calories than our body needs to maintain our current weight, our bodies will burn fat stores to get the energy (the calories) the body needs.

Now that you know how foods can help you burn fat, the next step is knowing which foods will help you burn fat and lose weight.

So, without further ado, here are 20 fat-burning foods that help with weight loss by either boosting our metabolism or helping us reduce our calorie intake. 

1. Kale

Kale

This superfood is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and is low in calories. 

One cup of kale is only around 33 calories, yet that one serving contains 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. The fiber and protein in kale help keep you feeling full. 

2. Turmeric

Herbs and spices often pack in a lot of flavors and a lot of nutrients. Turmeric is no exception. 

The superstar ingredient in Turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to promote total weight loss and reduce fat tissue growth 1234567).

3. Ginger

Ginger is another flavorful antioxidant-rich herb. After reviewing 14 studies, researchers found that consuming ginger may help reduce body weight and waist-to-hip ratios (8). 

Ginger may even help your feel full for longer and slightly boost your metabolism (910).

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon

Just one teaspoon of cinnamon has 1.6 grams of fiber, which will promote feelings of fullness. Studies show that cinnamon may reduce appetite and hunger (11).  

Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory effects support overall health and weight loss as well (12).

5. MCT

MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride. MCTs are found in coconut oil; however, coconut oil contains other fats as well. You can also purchase pure MCT oil. 

Although more studies are needed, some studies suggest that pure MCT oil can help with weight loss. 

Studies show that MCT may aid in weight loss in the following ways: 

  • It promotes fat burning, calorie burning, and fat loss (131415)
  • It is used more readily as energy instead of being stored (Although in excess, MCT can be stored as fat) (16, 17, 18)
  • It promotes satiety (You may feel fuller when you eat MCTs verse the LCT oils.) (19)

 6. Poultry

Chicken and turkey are healthy animal-based high protein foods. Diets high in protein have been shown to aid in weight loss in a couple of big ways. One, your body uses about 25% more energy (calories) to digest and metabolize protein (20).

Two, meals high in protein increase satiety so you will feel full and satisfied more quickly and for longer.  

Remember though, that how you cook your poultry can either help or hinder your weight loss efforts. 

Coating your chicken in batter and deep frying it will not do anything to help your fat-burning goals. Healthier cooking methods include grilling, roasting, baking, and sauteing. 

7. Wholefoods

Wholefoods

Like protein, your body may need to work harder to digest and metabolize whole foods versus ultra-processed foods (21). 

In other words, your body burns more calories digesting and metabolizing whole foods than it does when digesting and metabolizing ultra-processed foods. 

Whole foods are foods that have gone through very little processing. Ultra-processed foods have been processed until most of the nutrients have been stripped. 

Examples of ultra-processed foods are packaged cakes, cookies, pastries, chips, and crackers.  

However, some companies are trying to do a better job at providing whole foods in packaged products. So, when you are reading labels, look for a whole food ingredient as the first ingredient. 

Wholefoods include:

  • Vegetable
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Poultry
  • Fish

8. Salmon

Salmon contains high-quality protein. As discussed earlier, protein can increase the calories burned during digestion and metabolism. Protein also helps us feel full. 

Another one of salmon’s superstar ingredients is Omega-3. Studies suggest that Omega-3 fish oils can increase metabolism and promote fat burning (2223). 

However, more studies are needed since some studies have seen different results. 

Omega-3 fish oils may also help increase muscle mass, decrease fat, and decrease waist size even if you don’t lose weight (24). 

Muscle weighs more than fat, so even if you are not losing weight, you may be gaining muscle and losing fat. 

9. Egg Whites (Protein)

Eggs are another great source of protein. Egg whites still contain filling protein but are even lower in calories than whole eggs. 

Egg whites contain about 17 calories and 4 grams of protein per egg. A whole egg contains about 72 calories and 6 grams of protein. 

Egg whites are a great option for omelets and crustless quiches.

10. Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea has a thermogenic effect, which means it increases the rate your body burns calories and fat. The catechins and caffeine in green tea work together to boost your metabolism (252627). 

Green tea also contains almost zero calories (less than 3 calories per cup). So, when you drink green tea you are consuming almost zero calories and boosting your metabolism. 

11. Chili Peppers

Chili peppers contain capsaicin. Capsaicin is what gives chilis their spiciness. That spicy capsaicin also makes you feel full. 

Capsaicin does something else as well. It can boost your metabolism, which makes it an ideal food to include in your weight loss plan. (282930).

12. Chia Seeds

You don’t have to be a carnivore to get in your protein needs. Chia seeds are the perfect plant-based protein. 

Chia seeds also contain fiber. This is why chia seeds are super filling. 

Chia seeds can add bulk to your meals when you mix chia seeds with water. The chia seed absorbs water and other liquids turning a liquid into a thicker pudding. 

13. Green Bananas

Green Bananas

The less ripe the banana is the greener it is. But did you know that green bananas also have a different nutrition profile than yellow bananas?

Green bananas contain more resistant starch. Resistant starch cannot be digested in the small intestines. Instead, it gets fermented in the large intestines. As bananas ripen, the starch will convert into sugar. 

Green bananas also help us feel full due to their fiber content. Both yellow and green bananas contain fiber. Fiber content is one of the biggest predictors of weight loss (31).

The resistant starch and fiber act as a prebiotic as well. Prebiotics feed probiotics. Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for optimal gut health. 

According to several studies, gut health and probiotics can promote weight loss (32).

14. Lettuce

One lettuce leaf contains about 5 calories. So, you can pile on the lettuce without piling on the calories. This is why lettuce makes a great base for other ingredients. 

Instead of eating tacos, try eating a big taco salad, but go heavier on the lettuce than the other ingredients. 

You can also cut out calories by using lettuce to make lettuce wraps instead of using sub bread. Lettuce contains fiber and water which will help your stomach feel full and satisfied for longer. 

15. Cabbage

Cabbage is another great low-calorie, high fiber base option. You can reduce calories by using cabbage instead of rice in many dishes. For example, sauteed cabbage tasted delicious paired with chicken sausage. 

Raw cabbage can also make a fantastic ingredient in a salad. Shredded sauteed cabbage can even take the place of pasta. To make a garlic chicken “cabbage pasta” dish, just top the sauteed cabbage with some garlic, olive oil, sauteed mushrooms, salt, pepper, and grilled chicken, and enjoy. 

16. Cucumbers

Cucumbers - Fat burning foods

Cucumbers make the perfect “cracker” for dips. Raw cucumbers that are sliced horizontally are a perfect size and have the perfect crunchy texture for dips. 

We know that to lose weight and break down fat, we must eat fewer calories. A cup of sliced cucumbers contains only about 14 calories so you can enjoy them without worrying about eating too many calories. 

17. Zucchini

Zucchini is another great substitute for pasta. Spiralized zucchini is similar shape and size to spaghetti noodles, but with fewer calories. 

One cup of pasta is around 240 calories, whereas one cup of zoodles is only 33 calories. Zucchini is also high in fiber, which promotes satiety. 

18. Mushrooms

Mushrooms have a meaty flavor but are low in calories. Therefore, mushrooms are a fantastic alternative to higher-calorie meats. 

One study found that when the study participants substituted mushrooms for red meat, they lost weight, decreased their waist size, and kept it off for the whole 1-year trial (33).

19. Tart Cherries

Tart Cherries

Chronic sleep deprivation significantly increases your risk of gaining weight. Fortunately, tart cherries are a natural sleep aid. 

Tart cherry juice has melatonin and has been shown to promote quality sleep (34).

An animal study found that regularly consuming tart cherries reduced overall fat and stomach fat in mice (35). 

20. Artichokes

Artichokes contain a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. So, artichokes not only help you feel full but also promote a healthy gut. 

Prebiotics feed the good bacteria (probiotics) in our guts. Probiotics have been shown by multiple studies to help with weight loss (36). 

Summary

Add these 20 fat-burning foods to a healthy balanced diet and you will be on your way to reaching your weight loss goals. 

A fat-burning diet that helps with weight loss can include these 20 fat-burning foods as well as:

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Lean meats, fish, and/or plant-based proteins. 

Herbs, spices, and probiotics are also important components of a weight loss diet.

These 20 fat-burning foods help with weight loss by being low in calories, helping you feel full, or by boosting your metabolism. 

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Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN

Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian with a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition. Ngo is a freelance nutrition writer from Rock Hill, SC, and the author of several books, including The Nourishing Meal Builder.

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