Can foods burn fat? Yes, the right foods can! Certain foods can induce thermogenesis and increase the metabolic rate to burn the fat effectively and quickly. And there are also other foods that can indirectly increase the metabolic rate by suppressing all the symptoms associated with slow metabolism. But it’s crucial to know when to consume these fat burning foods. In this article, I have listed out 30 fat-burning foods, and the time you should have it—breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime, or post-workout. So get ready to burn ‘em all!
Best Fat Burning Foods For Breakfast
1. Green Tea
Green tea is highly thermogenic because of the interaction between caffeine and catechin polyphenols with noradrenalin. This, in turn, stimulates brown adipose tissue thermogenesis (1). Green tea can also act as a detox drink as it is loaded with antioxidants. Have a cup of green tea in the morning for detoxification and melting the fat.
Nuts have an indirect thermogenic effect. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and healthy fats. These nutrients increase satiety, reduce inflammation, and aid detoxification, which keeps the cells active and helps in normal functioning (2). When the cells do their job well, the metabolic rate goes up. Have almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts or pine nuts for breakfast to boost your metabolism.
Eggs are yummy and filling. Whole eggs are rich in fat soluble vitamins, protein, essential fatty acids, and minerals. Scientists at Saint Louis University discovered that eggs in breakfast induced and accelerated weight loss in the participants as they helped increase satiety (3). Have poached, scrambled, boiled, or sunny side up for breakfast to keep your hunger pangs at bay.
Consuming kale can help prevent the post-meal rise in blood sugar levels (4). Unchecked levels of blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, make kale smoothie or blanch kale and have it in your sandwich or with eggs to stimulate weight loss.
Lime is rich in vitamin C, fiber, minerals, and other phytonutrients (5). The antioxidants present in lime helps to scavenge the harmful oxygen radicals and thereby helps the cells to function properly, which keeps all the physiological processes run properly. This, in turn, helps to metabolize food properly and prevent fat deposition.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are extremely effective in lowering blood glucose levels and serum lipid levels. They are rich in dietary fiber and helps to increase satiety and prevents fat absorption (6). Chia seeds boost the metabolic rate by reducing inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity (7). Add chia to your smoothie or juice for breakfast to add flavor and boost your metabolism.
Like green tea, coffee efficiently increases the thermic effect. Studies have found that coffee led to an increase in metabolic rate and fat oxidation among participants (8). Have a cup of black coffee without sugar or artificial sweetener to burn the fat.
Grapefruits contain a substantial amount of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) that prevents the conversion of sugars to fat (9). Grapefruits are also rich in dietary fiber which help increase satiety. Having a cup of grapefruit juice (with the pulp) or mixing grapefruit juice with other ingredients to prepare a tasty smoothie will keep your hunger pangs at bay and also aid weight loss.
Best Fat Burning Foods For Lunch
Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and folate, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and omega-3-fatty acids (10). Broccoli also helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels in the blood, and the antioxidants help to flush out the toxins. Since toxic buildup hinders cell function and slows down metabolism, eating broccoli can help alleviate that problem. Have blanched or steamed broccoli with a hint of salt, pepper, and olive oil. You can also add into it some chicken breast pieces or add other colorful veggies to make your lunch more palatable and exciting.
Asparagus contains a flavonoid called quercetin, which protects against weight gain. Asparagus also improves the regulation of metabolism genes and hence helps to regulate the triglyceride and cholesterol levels (11). For lunch, have blanched, stir-fried or steam asparagus with other veggies, lentils or a medium portion of fish/chicken.
Fishes such as salmon, tuna, cod are rich in omega-3-fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation, increases good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol), and decreases triglyceride levels in the serum (12). These physiological changes help in proper regulation of genes and cell functions thereby increasing the metabolic rate. Have a medium portion of fish for lunch or dinner to improve your metabolism.
Tomatoes contain lycopene improves metabolic health, reduces inflammation, and reduces cholesterol levels (13). Add tomato slices to your salad, lettuce boats, chicken curry, boiled chickpea salad or drink tomato juice to help boost your metabolism and lose the flab.
Scientists have established that eating thylakoid, and dietary fiber-rich spinach can contribute to reducing hunger and increases satiety (14). A reduced hunger would mean controlled blood glucose levels, which would ultimately lead to the proper functioning of the cells, enzymes, and co-factors involved in the metabolism reaction. You can have spinach in salads, burritos, wheat pasta, sandwiches, etc.
Garlic induces thermogenesis and helps to control the number of fat cells in the body (15). Add crushed, thinly sliced, or whole garlic in your soup, stew, broth, salad, curries, etc. to enhance the taste of your food as well as increase the pace of your body’s metabolic rate.
15. Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in healthy fats, dietary fiber, and other nutrients. Scientists report that whole grains help reduce the blood glucose levels and body fat percentage thereby preventing metabolic diseases (16) (17). Have whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, broken wheat, black rice, corn, quinoa, etc. for lunch along with veggies and a lean protein source.
Chili contains capsaicin, which induces a thermogenic effect thereby raising the metabolic rate (18). Include chili flakes, finely diced chili, and chili powder to your soup, salad, curry, or pasta to spice up your lunch and reduce weight.
Yogurt is loaded with good gut bacteria that supports digestion. Yogurt also aids weight loss by increasing satiety, promoting fat loss, decreasing glycemic response, and increasing insulin sensitivity (19). You can have low-fat yogurt post lunch or add it to your crunchy salad as a substitute for mayonnaise or any other high-fat dressing.
Best Fat Burning Foods For Dinner
18. Lean Meat
Proteins cannot be digested easily and therefore eating a good protein source can increase the metabolic rate of your body. You should consume lean meat such as chicken breast, ground turkey, and lean cuts of pork to minimize animal fat consumption, which may hinder your weight loss. Have poached or grilled lean meat to obtain the maximum benefits.
19. Beans & Lentils
Beans and lentils are protein sources that are also rich in complex carbs, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Scientists have found that consuming beans and lentils can increase satiety, reduce the risk of obesity, and reduces postprandial glucose levels (20). These properties of lentils and beans help the organs, cells, and enzymatic reactions to take place at a good pace and positively influence the metabolic rate. You can have boiled beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, Bengal gram or lentil soup with veggies and a small serving of whole grain.
Cinnamon is an effective metabolism booster. It helps to increase insulin sensitivity, lower obesity risk, hypertension and helps regulate blood pressure (21). Adding cinnamon to your food will greatly enhance the flavor and taste of the food, making it more palatable and result in weight loss at the same time.
21. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are rich in dietary fiber and healthy fats that prevent fat absorption, reduce bad cholesterol, increase bulk in stool, and keeps your hunger pangs away (22). Add ground flaxseed to your yogurt or salad augment the nutritive value of your lunch.
22. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients that suppress fat cell division (23). It also helps to keep you full for longer. Have boiled or grilled sweet potato with a pinch of salt and pepper along with a medium serving of chicken/fish or lentil soup.
Scientists have established that ginger consumption enhances thermogenesis, keeps the hunger pangs at bay, and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (24). Add ginger to your salad, curry, wraps, stir-fried veggies/chicken to give your food an extra zing.
24. Dark Chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate (80% or more cocoa) can also help you increase thermic effect of food and increases metabolism. It helps to decrease the expression of genes that induce fatty acid synthesis, reduces digestion and absorption of carbs and fats, and increases satiety (25). Have a piece of dark chocolate post lunch or dinner to keep your snacks craving away.
This amazing Korean fermented food positively influences many factors related to metabolic syndrome. It helps to regularize blood pressure, decreases postprandial glucose levels, reduces body fat percentage and inflammation (26). You can add kimchi to your sandwich or salad for lunch.
Fat Burning Foods Post-Workout
Watermelons are rich in carbs, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is one of the best post-workout foods as it replenishes the sugar in the blood stream but does not spike the blood glucose levels. The antioxidants help to reduce inflammation and therefore prevents inflammation-induced weight gain (27). You can have fresh watermelon or freshly pressed watermelon juice with a little lime juice.
Berries are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals, and dietary fiber that help to reduce inflammation, add bulk to stool, regulate blood glucose levels, and help to lose weight (28). Have a cup of strawberry, raspberry, or blueberry juice with milk or honey after working out.
Apples are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A and C, phosphorus, magnesium, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help to scavenge the harmful oxygen radicals, lowers cholesterol, and reduce weight (29). Have an apple or add the fruit to your post-workout drink to replenish the energy deficiency.
Fat Burning Foods Before Bed
Drinking milk before bed can help you sleep better and research suggests that milk can also decrease metabolic disorders (30). Having a glass of warm milk before bed will also prevent you from snacking on processed carbs late at night.
Turmeric contains curcumin, the phytonutrient responsible for the bright yellow color and distinct flavor of turmeric. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory in nature and helps to prevent inflammation-induced weight gain (31). You can add turmeric to your glass of milk before bed or add it to your soup, smoothies, juices, or curries.