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What are the Different Types of Foods That Burn Fat?

By M. Wolters
Updated May 17, 2024
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The different types of foods that burn fat can generally be broken down into several categories, including lean meats, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, fruits and whole grains. They also include spices, teas and coffee. Fat-burning foods have a high thermic effect, which means that it takes a higher-than-average amount of energy for the body to burn the number of calories consumed in the food.

Lean meats are great fat-burning foods because they contain large amounts of protein, which boosts the body’s metabolic rate — the rate at which the body burns calories. The higher a person’s metabolism, the more efficiently the body uses the calories it consumes. Turkey, lean chicken, lean pork and even lean cuts of beef can all be part of a high-protein diet.

Another source of protein is fish, particularly salmon. Salmon has the added benefit of containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease a hormone in the body called leptin, which in turn leads to a higher calorie burn. Tuna also is great for decreasing leptin levels in the body.

Vegetables are easily some of the best foods that burn fat. Vegetables are naturally high in fiber, meaning that they are more filling and can help maintain that full feeling for longer than other higher calorie choices. Fiber also helps move fat through the body faster so less is absorbed in the body. All vegetables are high in fiber, but foods such as broccoli, edamame and spinach also are packed with essential nutrients such as vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Low-fat dairy products contain large amounts of calcium and complex carbohydrates, making them important to a fat-burning diet. Calcium and complex carbs both act as metabolic triggers, resulting in increased fat burning. Skim milk and low-fat yogurt are excellent choices to get calcium into the diet.

As vegetables are, fruit is naturally high in fiber and therefore is a good choice for a low-fat diet. Fruits that contain vitamin C are especially good foods that burn fat. Vitamin C aids the body in releasing fat by diluting it. Apples, oranges, bananas and berries are all good sources of vitamin C and fiber. Fruit also is naturally high in sugar, so for those who are counting calories, it should be eaten in moderation.

Whole grains are good sources of both fiber and complex carbohydrates, which are important for keeping metabolism high and the body burning fat. Oatmeal is an especially good choice for burning fat, because it breaks down slowly in the stomach, which stops the body from producing large insulin spikes. Insulin spikes make the body think it should be storing fat instead of burning it, so keeping insulin levels steady is important for a fat-burning diet.

Spices such as cayenne peppers, jalapenos and habanero peppers all contain a chemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin speeds up the heart rate and boosts metabolism. This makes peppers a great option for anyone looking to burn fat through food.

Other foods that burn fat are teas and coffee. They contain caffeine, which can increase the heart rate and help burn more calories. Green tea is especially good because it contains a chemical called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which makes the brain and nervous system run faster and causes the body to burn more calories.

These are just some of the foods that burn fat. To get the most out of a fat burning diet, it’s important for one to include some kind of exercise into a daily routine. It is the combination of diet and exercise that burns the most fat.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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