Ask the average person about her personal goals, and all too often, there’s one common thread: losing weight. While the reasons are often superficial (after all, who doesn’t want to look good in their swimsuit or summer attire?), the reality is that the benefits of losing weight go far beyond what’s reflected in the mirror — and fat-burning foods can help you get there.
Chowing down on fat-burning foods can help you drop pounds and potentially reverse diabetes. It also reduces your risk of obesity, which has been linked to a higher risk of cancers.
If you’re eager to add more fat-burning foods into your diet, lose weight and feel great, try 15 of my favorites!
1. Apple Cider Vinegar:
This pantry staple can actually help you lose weight by reducing sugar cravings. Ingesting apple cider vinegar before a meal can also help you feel fuller with less food. Because the substance is highly acidic, try adding a tablespoon or two to a glass of water before drinking. Bottoms up!
2. Bone Broth:
Bone broth is one of my absolute favorite healing foods. It truly has the potential to transform your health in tangible ways and help burn fat. (1) Thanks to the abundance of amino acids bone broth contains, bone broth prevents muscle breakdown, increases your metabolism and helps detoxify your body. While our ancestors ate bone broth regularly, since they wasted no part of an animal’s body, it’s no longer as common in our daily diet. But you can reap the benefits of this ancient elixir.
3. Cayenne Pepper:
This spicy seasoning is good for more than just increasing the heat in your foods. Cayenne pepper increases your body’s ability to burn fat and swap it for energy, just what you want when trying to shed those extra pounds. Cayenne pepper also increases your body’s metabolism, helping you lose fat faster and more easily. One of my favorite ways of sneaking more cayenne pepper into my diet is by making my Secret Detox Drink or sprinkling it on top my favorite foods for an extra kick of fat-burning food power.
4. Chia Seeds:
These seeds, originally grown in Mexico, are a nutritional powerhouse and true fat-burning foods. Not only does consuming chia seeds increase energy and give you more endurance power (you’ll get that workout in after a long day!), but because it absorbs so much of its own weight in water, the seed also helps slow your body’s digestion. This helps reduce hunger pangs and sugar cravings.
If you’re trying to lose weight, chicken is a readily available, powerful fat-burning food. Just three ounces of chicken — about the size of a deck of cards — provides about 37 percent of your body’s daily value for protein. This nutrient helps keep our bodies energized, our muscles looking sculpted and our bellies feeling satiated. Opt for quality, locally grown or organic chicken whenever possible.
6. Coconut Oil:
Not all fats are created equal. In fact, coconut oil is one of the healthiest, most natural fats we can consume. It can help decrease both body weight and body fat while keeping your thyroid running smoothly.
7. Cruciferous Vegetables:
Not only are cruciferous vegetables — like kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts — bursting with good-for-you ingredients, they’re also some of my favorite fat-burning foods. That’s because they’re some of the most nutritionally dense vegetables around. The benefits your body gets for the amount of calories contained in these vegetables means you’re getting more bang for your nutritional buck.
Ghee, a clarified butter originally made popular in India, is a surprising fat-burning food. Because of its high smoke point, ghee retains its phytonutrients during cooking. As a bonus, it’s also appropriate for lactose- and casein-sensitive individuals. And, thanks to the medium-chain fatty acids it contains, ghee can actually help your body burn other fats. Talk about a win-win!
Oranges aren’t the only citrus fruits on the block. Grapefruit is just as delicious, and luckily for us, it’s a major fat-burning food as well. Enzymes found in the fruit help your body break down sugar, helping to boost your metabolism and — you got it — drop those pounds.
10. Grass-Fed Beef:
Red meat has often been stigmatized as unhealthy, but it’s a widespread misconception. Instead, “you are what you eat” is an adage that rings especially true with grass-fed beef. Skipping the lower-quality versions and splurging on quality beef means you’ll be nourishing your body with one of the highest sources of protein, helping to encourage weight loss. You’ll reduce bad cholesterol levels, thanks in part to the lower fat content found in grass-fed beef. You’ll also ingest higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants and good fats. Your body and scale will see the difference when you make the switch to grass-fed beef!
11. Green Leafy Vegetables:
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard are chock-full of nutrients and iron. These fat-burning foods help keep muscles functioning properly and burning calories long after a workout.
12. Matcha Green Tea:
Sipping on a cup of matcha green tea is more than just soothing; drinking it regularly can actually reduce body fat and lower cholesterol levels. Plus, it helps your body repair more quickly after high-intensity workouts.
Kefir is a fermented drink similar to yogurt loaded with medicinal benefits. It’s also packed with probiotics, the (good!) bacteria aiding your body in fighting infections. Probiotics are also good news for those trying to lose weight — eating them is associated with weight loss.
14. Rooibos Tea:
While rooibos tea is technically an herbal drink, it’s making waves in the weight loss community. Because it contains a flavonoids and phytochemicals that can help drop pounds and boost metabolism, it’s become one of my ultimate fat-burning foods. Try it in place of your normal green tea for a healthy, energizing change!
15. Whey Protein:
Adding whey protein to your breakfast smoothie or taking a daily supplement can help your body not only decrease body fat and increase muscle tone, but also spike energy levels while stabilizing blood sugar. Talk about a multitasker!
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored “Eat Dirt“ and “Gut Repair Cookbook,” and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at DrAxe.com