5 Healthy and Delicious Fat Burning Foods
I’m going to make an assumption – if you’re reading this article, you probably want to lose weight and you’re looking for every possible ‘edge’ you can get to help you achieve your fat loss goals.
Before we discuss what foods will help you melt away that stubborn fat, it’s essential to understand one important fact – to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit. This means the calories you consume, present in the foods you eat (calories in) must be less than the amount you use in energy (calories out) over the course of the day, weeks and months to consistently lose weight.
When we talk about fat burning foods, we’re not talking about foods that don’t come with a calorie cost. We’re in fact talking about food that will impact your weight loss by boosting your metabolism – foods that increase the ‘calories out’ side of the equation and also have an effect on controlling appetite and hunger.
There’re many foods people say have magical weight loss super powers. Things like chilis, cinnamon and green tea are all touted as the secrets to fat loss. Although some of these may cause a short term increase in metabolism, when you look at the bigger picture, these gains are insignificant in relation to creating a calorie deficit through regulating energy intake and increasing energy expenditure with exercise and generally being more active.
However, there’s a whole host of foods out there that can have a huge impact on weight loss for a number of different reasons. Below are our top five weight loss foods and a brief summary as to how they all ‘work’.
1. LEAN SOURCES OF PROTEIN
When it comes to tipping our energy balance in favour of fat loss, protein is the key component. The reasons for this are three fold. Firstly, protein (especially when combined with exercise) prevents loss of muscle, which helps to maintain your metabolic rate. Secondly, it is the most filling macronutrient and helps keep hunger at bay. Finally, protein is the most energy demanding macronutrient to digest and store in the body.
This means around 1/3rd of the calories you eat from protein are ‘lost’ in these energy demanding processes. The energy it takes to digest and absorb food is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) and contributes significantly to our ‘calories out’ side of the equation when we have a high protein diet.
The other benefit of protein is it offers lots of variety, which means your diet should never be boring! We have the obvious candidate – chicken – but there’s also fish, lean beef, a whole host of ‘exotic’ meats and low fat dairy. For vegans there’s soy, Quorn and other high protein meat substitutes. Don’t be afraid to crack out the herbs and spices and get creative with your seasoning to keep things interesting!
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries (all berries really!) are excellent foods for weight loss. They are high in fibre and low in calories relative to their overall food volume. Not only does this mean they are filling and look after your gut health, but these are packed full of micronutrient and antioxidants promoting overall health. They taste great too!
Throw them into some low fat Greek yoghurt, add some low calorie syrups and you have a quick, easy and delicious high protein treat that’s low in calories and can curb even the sweetest of sweet tooth cravings!
We all know veggies are healthy for us, but they’re also great for weight loss as they have a high food volume for very low calorie cost. There’s a reason why potatoes are a favourite food of dieting bodybuilders, you get a pretty big portion for very few calories.
If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re not filling up on high volume veggies then you are missing a trick in controlling your hunger. The vast amount of ways you can prepare and season the humble ‘spud’ means that they can add a wide variety of tastes and textures to your diet, which is an important factor for dietary adherence.
OK, not technically a food but certainly important for health and fat loss. Not just for keeping us hydrated and functioning at our best physically and mentally, but staying adequately hydrated may have an impact in helping to control hunger.
If you aren’t a big water fan, then add in low calorie flavourings and even tea, coffee and green tea will count to your daily water intake. Coffee and green tea in particular can be helpful as they both act as mild appetite suppressants and can have a short term boost in metabolism, although this is ‘lost’ in those who have become ‘habituated’ to caffeine intake.
The thought of eating your greens might fill some of you with feelings of disgust, but greens are not only full of fibre and micronutrients, they carry some serious food volume relative to their calorie content.
Many people dislike greens because they prepare them in the blandest ways possible, boiled to death, soggy and with no seasoning. Mix up the way you cook greens – baking, sautéing and grilling with different seasonings can take something boring and make them both delicious and nutritious.
There are lots of other foods that will help keep you feeling full and can be prepared in ways that will stop food boredom, which can be a huge issue when trying to stick to a diet.
Oats, rice and whole grains that provide lots of fibre and food volume at low calorie cost are definitely up there in our favourite foods for dieting. The humble egg can be prepared in a number of different ways and (assuming you use mostly egg whites) you can get a huge portion of tasty food that is high in protein and low in calories.
There is no magical fat loss food (unfortunately) but we can certainly follow some basic rules to make our food choices work for us to support weight loss. Focus on lean protein, plenty of fibrous foods and those that have a high food volume relative to their calorie cost and look for lower calorie alternatives to your favourite foods, which are now becoming widely available.