Fat burning is a top priority for men and women due to our sedentary lifestyle’s that don’t have us as active as we should be or eating the right foods.
But there’s a lot of confusion around the best fat burning methods. Some people will tell you to run 10km, some will tell you to do high intensity cardio for 7 minutes, some will tell you to lift weights while others will recommend fat burning foods.
And while none of these are incorrect, there are certainly ‘preferred’ ways (or ‘easier’ ways) than others to burn fat.
In this article I’ll be outlining the best fat burning foods to turn your body into a fat burning machine.
Whether your priority is to get rid of belly fat, reduce cellulite, drop the love handles or remove a layer or two all over, this article is for you.
Let’s get into it…
Co-Founder and Head Trainer at Exercises.com.au, Triathlete, Qualified Chef, Father of 5
Fat Burning Foods – How It Works
The idea that you can burn fat by eating more food seems too good to be true. After all we love to eat! Food is often our source of comfort.
When we’re stressed or have one of those days where nothing goes as planned, our first impulse is to eat something that will make us feel better. Food is also an outlet for celebration because nothing brings people together more than a good feast.
Thus, food is not just an essential source of energy. It has also influenced our lifestyle. But we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that people worldwide are becoming increasingly overweight.
A landmark study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) which covered the period of 1998 to 2013 revealed that 2.1 Billion people or 30% of the world’s population is overweight. Australia, together with the United States and the United Kingdom registered the highest gains in obesity.
It may seem obvious that consuming more food would lead to weight gain but there is a correlation between global food consumption and rising obesity rates. In 1966, the average global calorie intake was 2,358 kcal. In 2015, it was 2,940 kcal.
So if eating more food makes us fat, how is it possible to burn fat by eating more food? The premise alone reads counter-intuitive!
The answer lies in understanding what food is, its functions and its role in maintaining balance in our daily lives. There is more to food than just an essential source of energy. Used judiciously and with purpose, food can make us healthy, fit and lean!
Here are the principles you need to understand to make food become an asset in your daily life…
Food Is A Source Of Energy
The heat energy produced by food is measured in calories. The more food you eat the greater the amount of heat energy available in your body in the form of calories. But digesting food requires energy.
It takes calories to burn calories. So if you eat more food does that mean you will burn more calories?
Yes…. and no.
A large pizza with the works has 3,500 calories. If you eat that in one sitting your body has to undertake an activity that will use up more than 3,500 calories in order to burn all the stored energy.
All of the carbohydrates and fat in the pizza will make you feel sluggish and full throughout the day. Your next meal won’t probably come until after six hours.
And there lies the problem with overeating. If you eat too much food in one sitting, it will keep you full for extended hours. You feel tired because your body is trying to digest the food. But without physical activity, you will not have the means to burn the excess calories.
When you feel sluggish, your metabolism slows down and your ability to burn fat is compromised. On the other hand, if the 3,500 calories were consumed throughout the day as 6 meals, it will be easier for your body to digest the smaller portions.
You would be satisfied but not full and your metabolism would be revved up the entire day.
Some Types Of Food Have A Thermogenic Effect
Thermogenesis is the process of producing heat within an organism. Theoretically, if you can raise the body’s thermogenic rate, you can increase the loss of body fat.
And there are foods that have been found to have a thermogenic effect on the human body.
These are as follows:
Wild rice – High in fiber which keeps you full longer and slows down the release of insulin.
Walnuts – High amount of Omega-3 fatty acids which lower cholesterol levels.
Ginger -The popular treatment for inflammatory pain has been shown by studies to increase calorie burning.
Avocado – In addition to healthy mono-unsaturated fats, avocados contain a carbohydrate called mannoheptulose which slows down insulin release and improves calcium absorption. This combination can possibly increase fat burning.
Salmon – Essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 can increase fat burning and inhibit fat storage. Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Grapefruit – This contains naringin which studies show can prevent fat storage.
Eggs – In addition to its high protein count, eggs contain lecithin which helps in fat burning.
Natural Peanut Butter – Do not go for the low-fat version! These are substituted with more sugars. The healthiest part of the peanut butter is the fat itself which is made up of mono-unsaturated fats.
Steak – Protein requires more calories to break down than any other macronutrient. Steak has a very high metabolic rate because of all the enzymes, hormones and metabolites needed to process its amino acids.
It’s All In The Timing And In The Grouping
So far we’ve learned that eating small portions can increase our metabolism and our body’s capacity to burn fat. We also learned that certain foods create a thermic effect in the human body. Increasing the rate of thermogenesis can potentially burn body fat.
Now that we know which foods can help us burn fat, how do we put them all together and come up with a fat burning meal plan?
Here are a few rules in timing and grouping your food choices:
• Restrict your intake of carbohydrates in the day time and limit it to small portions of wild rice or walnuts.
• Do not consume fatty proteins with refined carbohydrates especially if you are not physically active.
• Lean protein sources such as chicken and tuna are best eaten during the day time while fatty protein sources such as steak are more effective when eaten at night. Steak contains saturated fats which are effective in producing growth hormone and can increase testosterone levels.
A sample fat burning meal plan would look like this:
Breakfast: Egg, Avocado, Wild Rice, Grilled Tomato + Green Tea with Lemon
Snack: Tuna Salad with Avocado and Cold-Pressed Olive Oil Dressing
Lunch: ¼ Roasted Chicken, 100 grams Lentils, Baby Spinach
Snack: Cucumber, Carrot, Walnuts
Dinner: Steak, Vegetables, Avocado
Before Bed: 1 tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter
This kind of meal plan has all the necessary components of fat-burning:
• Frequency: To Increase Metabolism
• Essential Fatty Acids: To Inhibit Fat Storage
• Fibre: To Aid in Digestion and Keep You Satiated
Lastly, always have time for physical activity. There are many benefits to exercise especially for your health. In combination with a fat burning diet, you can be lean, healthy and strong at any age.
How To Lose Stomach Fat
Stop doing those crunches!
Research has shown that spot reduction unfortunately isn’t a thing! If you want to stop wasting your time and finally reveal those abs that you have been hiding, take a look at these key tips and make a real change today!
Reduce or Eliminate Processed Foods from your Diet
Processed foods such as chips, biscuits, soft drinks and fast foods are full of unnecessary calories that will keep your abs hidden! Get processed foods out of your cupboards, donate them to charity and replace them with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grains.
It won’t be hard to reach for the healthy option if that is all that is in your pantry. Make it easy for yourself to nourish and fuel your body with foods that reduce inflammation and help you towards a flatter stomach.
Cut the Sugar
Numerous studies have shown that added sugar harms your metabolism and causes more fat to be stored around your midsection. Added sugar is hidden in all sorts of things such as fruit juices, sauces and sports drinks.
Start reading the labels to become more aware of what you are putting into your body and instead grab some fresh fruit, start flavouring foods with spices and drinking water instead of soft drinks.
Eat Enough Protein
Did you know that digesting protein uses more energy than processing fat or carbs?
The amount of protein that you require depends on your goals but aiming for 1-1.5 grams per kilo of bodyweight will make you feel full for longer, increase your metabolism, help to maintain muscle mass and burn fat.
While we’re focusing on fat burning foods in this article, it would be remiss of me to not make mention of the importance of movement as a way to burn fat. Your options include cardio, weight training or general physical activities that increase your heart rate.
In order to torch that stomach fat you need to burn off those extra calories. High intensity cardiovascular training such as HIIT style workouts have been shown to burn more calories than steady state cardio.
Focus on exercises that use the whole body and therefore use more calories to see those abs faster. Incorporate weight training into your weekly schedule with at least two sessions per week.
Having more lean muscle will mean that you will be burning more calories all day, every day and as you shed that fat will reveal a sexy, toned body.
In addition to your weekly training schedule find ways that you enjoy moving. You will find it so much easier to lead an active lifestyle and will burn unwanted calories without even trying.
Go for a walk to enjoy the sun, paddleboard at the beach, take your dog for a run, ride a bike with your kids or take a dance class. Enjoy moving and your body will love it!
And speaking of movement, there’s 8 hours a day where no movement is needed. In today’s busy world, sleep is often the first thing that we drop in order to cram everything we need to do into our full schedules.
It is however, one of the most important, if not the best thing that you can do for your physical and mental health.
Research has shown time and time again that people who get adequate sleep have lower body fat levels so make sure you get at least seven hours each night, ideally 8 hours.
You will be more productive for it, feel better and won’t be reaching for calorie loaded, energy filled snacks to keep you going.
You can eat the best fat burning foods and exercise regularly, but stress is an entire other animal that has a big effect on your health and your body’s ability to burn fat.
Stress causes the body to release cortisol which increases the amount of fat that your body tries to hold on to making it hard for you find that flat belly.
Schedule some time every day for you to do something that reduces your stress levels such as gentle walking, meditation, yoga , time in nature and spending time with loved ones.
Foods to Avoid For Better Body Toning
70% of weight loss is a direct result of your diet! Don’t waste your valuable time trying to sweat your butt off without knowing which foods you should be avoiding to help you reach your goals.
Toning your body is all about building muscle while reducing body fat so avoiding these foods will help you to reveal your strong and sexy body sooner.
Packaged and Processed Foods
If fat burning is your goal then your diet should be focused on fresh vegetables, meats, quality carbohydrates and some fruit. Packaged and processed foods such as cereals, biscuits, cakes, muesli bars, frozen meals and even canned soup can be full of calories that will prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals.
These types of foods can also be devoid of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to recover and adapt to your training load. They can also cause you to crave more food as your body seeks out the micronutrients that it is missing.
The process of refining grains reduces the amount of fibre and other nutrients that are in them. Fibre helps to regulate your gut and make you feel full for longer so try to replace white bread and rice with brown and wholegrain varieties.
You will simultaneously increase your vitamin and mineral intake, helping you to recover from your workout sessions.
Watch Your Fats!
Your body needs fat to be healthy and consuming it with every meal can actually help you to lose weight by increasing the satiety of foods and improving your body’s ability to use fat for energy. However, when it comes to fats, quality and quantity are key!
Focus on consuming fats such as avocado, omega 3’s, olive oil and nuts and try to avoid processed fats that are found in things such as margarine, deep fried food, crackers and cakes.
Even quality sources of fats contain high amounts of calories so watch the amount that you are eating before you hit the peanut butter jar with a spoon.
Consuming excess salt leads to water retention and bloating. Processed and packaged foods often contain very high levels of salt which makes the food taste better but disturbs the fluid balance in your body.
Instead, choose unprocessed foods, check labels for added salt and limit the amount that you add to food when cooking at home.
Soft drinks, fruit juices, flavoured lattes and energy drinks contain hundreds of calories that will stop you from shedding that excess weight.
For body toning the goal is to create a calorie deficit so replace drinks laden with added sugar with low or zero calorie options such as water, black coffee or green tea.
Drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water each day will also help you to reduce water retention and allow your body to flush out toxins efficiently.
Diet Drinks and Foods
While it is true that a diet soft drinks (sodas) do contain less calories than a regular soft drinks, studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners actually encourages your body to store fat.
In addition to this, foods and drinks that taste sweet make you crave sweet foods more, making it harder to resist sugary treats.
You should also try to avoid diet options of foods such as sour cream, desserts and snack bars that are highly processed, lack nutrients and often contain higher carbohydrate levels than their non-diet alternatives.
Alcohol is packed full of calories and most people will find themselves reaching for processed, high fat foods when they drink resulting in a huge total caloric intake.
If you are serious about burning fat, cut alcohol from your diet for a while. Instead, find alternative ways to socialise and enjoy being able to hit the gym on a Saturday morning without the hangover!
If it is hard for you to completely remove alcohol from your diet, try to limit yourself to one or two drinks once a week. If you’re committed to burning fat and toning your body in the short and long term, these are the foods and drinks you’ll either have to cut out entirely, or severely minimise.
Keep positive and stay disciplined to get toned and look great all year round.
The Best Foods To Get Rid Of Cellulite
If you’re dealing with cellulite, there are many things you can be doing to help reduce its appearance or even eliminate it completely.
The lifestyle choices you make – how you eat, how much you exercise, and the other everyday habits you maintain revolving around sleep, alcohol consumption and stress will all influence the development of cellulite.
Of particular importance however is your diet. The foods you eat can increase cellulite or decrease it so you’ll want to choose carefully.
To put cellulite behind you once and for all, here are some of the best foods to start including in your diet plan.
Topping the list is salmon. Salmon is a rich source of high quality protein, which will help to stimulate your metabolic rate while helping you maintain or build lean muscle mass (with an appropriate exercise program).
The more muscle you maintain, the more toned your body will look and the less you’ll notice that cellulite formation. Salmon is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost insulin sensitivity and also help out with the fat burning process.
Since cellulite is largely an issue of excess body fat, the more effectively you can lose weight, the better.
Lemons are also a great food to turn to in effort to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Lemons help to detoxify the body, so having a large glass of water with fresh lemon juice each morning is a great way to start your day.
It’ll help flush out these toxins, which if remain in the body, can interfere with the natural fat burning process taking place. Additionally, they also help improve your liver health, which could help bring down estrogen levels in your body.
Estrogen is a hormone that promotes fat storage, especially in the hips and thighs, so this could help those problem regions.
Kelp is a food that few people ever consider eating, but one that could help do away with cellulite. It contains a special compound called Fucoxanthin, which assists with the fat burning process occurring in the body.
Eating it each day – or at least a couple times per week – could help you get to your goal weight a little faster, decreasing cellulite in the process.
Filled with antioxidants and dietary fibre, raspberries are another great food to add to your diet to help combat cellulite.
Adding these to your meals will help to slow the release of insulin into the blood stream, lowering the chances any other carbs you eat that meal getting converted into body fat.
The antioxidants they contain will also help to lower oxidation and could help decrease the level of inflammation present in your body. Both of these improve your overall function, which in turn means you’ll be better prepared to burn fat throughout the day.
Garlic is another top food (it’s actually a vegetable!) to be eating at least once a day if possible. Garlic holds a number of promising health benefits including boosting heart health and lowering cholesterol.
In addition to that, it also helps control your insulin levels, meaning you can better manage your overall body composition. Add garlic to your stir-frys, to any home made marinades you prefer, or simply add some minced garlic in whenever baking or mashing sweet potatoes.
It’s a great compliment to just about every dish. Just avoid it if you’ve got a job interview or a first date in the next 24 hours!
If you start adding these foods to your diet plan and also be sure that you are regulating your calorie intake to promote fat burning, you’ll soon be noticing improvements in the appearance of those trouble areas.
5 Quick And Easy Meals To Burn Body Fat
Healthy food can be tasty, flavourful and easy to make, and these 5 healthy recipes can be made quickly with very little preparation.
You can make an entire day’s menu with these nutrient-packed and delicious meals:
1. Healthy Chinese Chicken Rice Bowl
- Organic Wild Rice x 1/4 cup
- Grilled Chicken Breast x 200 grams
- Broccoli x 80 grams
- Green Bell Pepper x 80 grams
- Onions x 80 grams
- Garlic x 5 cloves
- Organic Soy Sauce x tablespoon
- Cook organic wild rice as instructed and set aside. Sprinkle salt and pepper to chicken breasts and grill on both sides until well done.
- Set aside chicken breasts in a bowl and cover with foil to keep moist. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes then set aside.
- Put 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers and toss around until browned and sweaty.
- Slice the chicken breasts and add into the vegetable mix with the cooked rice. Add 1 tablespoon of organic soy sauce; salt and pepper to taste.
Carbs: 35 grams
Protein: 32 grams
Fat: 7 grams
Calories: 364 kcal
2. Stuffed Zucchini
- Zucchini x 2
- Organic Ground Turkey x 200 grams
- Egg x 1
- Green Bell Pepper x 80 grams
- Red Bell Pepper x 80 grams
- White Onions x 80 grams
- Garlic x 5 cloves
- Slice the zucchinis in half. Scoop out the insides and place inside a bowl with the organic ground turkey, egg, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, onions, garlic and salt and pepper.
- Mix the ingredients in the bowl then scoop back inside each half of the zucchini. Place inside a tray that is liberally brushed with olive oil. Cover in aluminum foil.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turn off oven then let stuffed zucchinis sit for another 10 minutes to regain moisture.
Carbs: 18 grams
Protein: 22 grams
Fat: 4 grams
Calories: 192 kcal
3. Tone Up Tacos
- Organic 93% Lean Ground Beef x 225 grams
- Organic, Hi-Fibre Tortillas x 2 pieces
- Organic shredded Cheddar Cheese x 60 grams
- Tomatoes x 150 grams
- Lettuce x 60 grams
- Onions x 80 grams
- Garlic x 5 cloves
- Ground Cumin x ½ teaspoon
- Ground Chili x ½ teaspoon
- Spanish Paprika x ½ teaspoon
- Cayenne Pepper x ¼ teaspoon
- Black Pepper x ¼ teaspoon
- Salt, to taste
- Brown the beef over high heat then lower to medium heat to render out the fat.
- Drain all the fat and run the browned beef under running water to wash out excess fat and oils. Cover and set aside.
- Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Toss in the onions and garlic and cook until brown.
- Add back the cooked beef and mix in the seasonings. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat. Cover and set aside.
- Place tortillas in pan over low heat and grill until top starts to rise. Place lettuce on the tortilla, scoop in ground beef mixture and top with diced tomatoes and shredded cheese.
Carbs: 64 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Fat: 17 grams
Calories: 492 kcal
4. Chicken Curry Salad
- Grilled Chicken Breast x 200 grams
- Grapes x 90 grams
- Walnuts 30 grams
- Greek Yogurt x 1/2 cup
- Curry Powder x 2 teaspoons
- Lettuce x 100 grams
- Salt, to taste
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken breasts. Put 1 teaspoon of olive oil on a pan over medium heat. Grill chicken breasts until well done. Cover and set aside.
- Put yogurt, grapes, curry powder and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Toss in lettuce leaves.
- Place in bowl and top with sliced chicken breasts and sprinkle with walnuts.
Carbs: 12 grams
Protein: 32 grams
Fat: 18 grams
Calories: 320 kcal
5. Baked Salmon
- Wild Salmon x 250g
- Wild, Organic Honey x 35 grams
- Olive Oil x 1 tablespoon
- Garlic x 3 cloves
- White Wine Vinegar x 1 tablespoon
- Thyme Leaves x 1 tablespoon
- Salt x ½ teaspoon
- Pepper x ½ teaspoon
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a bowl, add the honey, olive oil, garlic, white wine vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
- Place the salmon on the baking sheet. Spoon the mixture and coat the salmon evenly. Put up the sides of the foil and cover the salmon.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Carbs: 3 grams
Protein: 47 grams
Fat: 16 grams
Calories: 328 kcal
A good idea would be to make several servings or batches of these meals at a time. You can make the dressings and fillings for the salad and the tacos and store them in the refrigerator for future use.
The Chicken Rice Bowl, Stuffed Zucchini and the Baked Salmon can be packed in containers for a quick re-heat whenever you are hungry.
I hope you enjoyed the fat burning tips I’ve shared and will include the foods I’ve mentioned, as well as avoiding the fat gaining foods.
Combining the fat burning foods with regular exercise, sleep and stress reduction will accelerate your results, which will then motivate you to continue your new healthy habits indefinitely.
It’s a positive cycle to be swept up in! One that can carry you throughout your life to lead a healthy, positive, happy lifestyle.
I’m here to support you through your journey, so if you have a question or two, please get in touch by adding a comment below and I’ll be happy to help 🙂