Losing weight can be a complicated process filled with questions. Will this food help me burn fat? Is that going to stall my progress?
Fortunately, most of your weight loss questions will be answered when you eat the right foods.
What exactly do I mean by the “right” foods? You may think they are the foods that make you burn a significant amount of belly fat. However, these foods don’t exist.
The only way to legitimately accelerate fat loss with food is to consume foods that help you maintain a calorie deficit without feeling fatigued, unhealthy, or hungry. A true “fat loss food” is a food (or beverage) that has one or more of the qualities that we will take a look at below.
What Is a “Fat Burning Food”?
Just by searching online for “fat burning foods” or “foods for fat loss,” you will find dozens of articles with a variety of different comestibles, but rarely will the authors tell you the qualities that these foods have in common.
Fortunately, after I looked through dozens of articles and research studies to find answers, a pattern of characteristics began to emerge that clearly set “fat burning” and “fat loss” foods apart from unhealthy foods:
- They are highly-satiating despite being lower in calories compared to other common foods.
- They increase your calorie burning more than most calorie sources.
- They reduce calorie consumption by triggering satiety.
- They improve gut health (which is associated with fat loss).
- They increase energy levels without adding too many extra calories to your diet.
- They promote ketosis (which will help reduce hunger and decrease calorie consumption).
In general, if a food or beverage has one or more of these characteristics, it will probably be found on one of the dozens of “fat burning foods” or “fat loss foods” lists. When your diet consists primarily of these foods, your chances of reaching your weight loss and health goals will increase significantly.
Best Foods for Fat Loss on the Keto Diet
Below, you can use the visual guide to see some of the best foods for fat loss on keto. Scroll down to see specific examples and links to recipes where you can incorporate more of each ingredient into your diet.
Despite being high in fat, nuts are not as fattening as you would expect. Studies have shown that eating nuts can improve metabolic health and even promote weight loss.
This is primarily due to the fact that they contain plenty of fiber, which increases our feeling of fullness and reduces calorie consumption.
Although all nuts are low in net carbs, the amount varies quite a bit among the different types.
To help you figure out how you can fit them into your keto diet, here are the carb counts for 1 ounce (28 grams) of the most widely consumed nuts:
- Almonds: 6 grams total carbs (3 grams net carbs)
- Brazil nuts: 3 grams total carbs (1 gram net carbs)
- Cashews: 9 grams total carbs (8 grams net carbs)
- Macadamia nuts: 4 grams total carbs (2 grams net carbs)
- Pecans: 4 grams total carbs (1 gram net carbs)
- Pistachios: 8 grams total carbs (5 grams net carbs)
- Walnuts: 4 grams total carbs (2 grams net carbs)
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard are chock-full of nutrients and iron. They also are packed with fiber, which will slow the digestion process and cause you to feel more satiated with fewer calories.
Need more keto-friendly veggie ideas? Check out our low-carb vegetable guide. Getting enough greens is crucial for your keto diet success.
Anytime you see a food item that is packed with protein, think to yourself: “this will help me lose weight.” Eggs are one high-protein food that provide us with plenty of evidence to back up this rule.
They are one of the healthiest and most versatile foods on the planet. Many experts even identify the egg as one of the only real “superfoods.”
Just one egg yolk contains thirteen essential vitamins and minerals and the eye-protecting antioxidants known as lutein and zeaxanthin. They are also one of the best sources of choline, a vitamin-like essential nutrient and methyl donor involved in many vital physiological processes.
In general, studies on egg consumption found that these nutrient powerhouses increase the feeling of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable, leading to lower calorie intakes for up to 24 hours. This could mean that eggs are the weight loss boosting superfood you’ve been waiting for.
If you’d like to find the healthiest eggs possible, seek out egg farmers that give their chickens access to pasture — a place where they can eat plenty of insects and soak up the sun. Studies have found that chickens raised in this way tend to lay eggs that are filled with more omega 3s, vitamins, and minerals.
4. Protein Powder
Protein powder is technically not a “food,” but you can use it as a compliment to your meal as you would use any other high-protein meat. The best part about protein powder is that you can get all of the benefits of protein without any extra carbs, fat, or calories — as long as you pick a protein powder with no other additives.
Here are some examples of why protein powders (and the other high-protein foods on this list) serve as one of the ultimate fat burning foods for keto:
- Protein reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while it boosts the appetite-reducing hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin. This leads to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake.
- About 20-30% of protein’s calories are burned while the body is digesting and metabolizing the protein.
- Increasing your protein intake can make you burn roughly 80-100 more calories per day.
- High-protein diets are highly satiating, so they lead to reduced hunger and appetite compared to lower protein diets. This makes it much easier to restrict calories and lose weight.
- Eating more protein can lead to significant reductions in cravings and the desire to snack during the day and night.
- Eating more protein can help you gain or sustain your muscle mass, which will help you burn more calories and improve metabolic health.
5. Sauerkraut and Kimchi
Many studies indicate that maintaining a healthy bacteria balance in your gut can improve your gut health, which in turn may help reduce fat mass and inflammation. Fermented foods that have both good bacteria and prebiotic fibers, such as Kimchi and sauerkraut, are helpful in ensuring that your gut is healthy.
The main ingredient of both Kimchi and sauerkraut is cabbage — a leafy green vegetable that is rich in antioxidants, prebiotic fiber, and vitamin C but extremely low in calories (just 22 per cup). In other words, whether you have cabbage fermented or in another preparation, you can eat it too your heart’s content.
If you are not familiar with Kimchi, it is a spicy Korean condiment provides us with an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A, B, and C. Because it is fermented (like sauerkraut), kimchi contains tons of probiotics that help heal your gut.
Garlic has been used for centuries as a prophylactic and treatment for many diseases. It is rich in organosulfur compounds, which give it its potent flavor, taste, and health-promoting properties.
A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that subjects who received 400 mg garlic powder tablets twice a day lost significantly more fat than the control group. Although there are many confounding variables in this trial, animal studies back up the human findings by providing us with evidence that garlic supplementation can have anti-obesogenic effects (i.e., garlic prevents weight gain) in mice.
No, you’re not seeing things — an average everyday condiment made the list.
Although mustard does not have any magical fat-burning properties, it still made the list because it packs a tasty punch without adding too many extra calories. By using this condiment to replace other higher-calorie dressings and sauces, you can help boost your fat loss results without missing out on flavor.
Another super low-calorie condiment that you can use to replace higher calorie additions is vinegar. Several human studies also suggest that vinegar can be useful for weight loss in other ways as well.
One 12-week study on obese individuals, for example, showed that the consumption of 15 or 30 ml of vinegar per day caused weight loss of 2.6–3.7 pounds (1.2–1.7 kilograms). The researchers of the study indicated that vinegar’s ability to increase satiety may be the mechanism behind these results.
9. Pasture-Raised Chicken
Chicken is one of the highest protein, lowest calorie foods you can eat (depending on what type of chicken you get). This means that you can reap of the fat loss benefits of protein (that we discussed in the protein powder section) by just tossing some chicken in with your keto meal.
To ensure that you are eating chicken that is best for you and the environment, make sure you are purchasing pasture-raised chicken from farmer’s that raise their hens in a healthy and sustainable way.
“100% vegetarian-fed”, “cage-free,” “free range,” and “omega-3 enriched” are simply marketing terms that indicate nothing about how healthy the animals were that your chicken came from. The healthiest chickens are those that have been given the opportunity to roam freely throughout the day, eat plenty of bugs, and soak up the sun.
10. Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Other Cruciferous Vegetables
This is technically a group of foods, but I couldn’t resist putting them all together for one reason — they all provide us with a source of sulforaphane and fiber. You already know about how fiber can help increase our feelings of fullness but have you ever heard of sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane is a compound that is created when we crush or chew cruciferous vegetables. Once it is digested, sulforaphane activates a cytoprotective (cell-protecting) pathway that protects the cells from oxidative stress and removes toxins from the body.
What is also incredible about this compound is that experiments with mice found that it helps reverse obesity. How is this possible? Because sulforaphane help increases the amount of energy-burning brown fat and improves gut health. Both are linked to lower levels of obesity and better overall health.
If you want to get as much sulforaphane as possible, I recommend adding broccoli sprouts to your diet. Feel free to sprinkle them on top of your keto meals; especially meals that already have some cruciferous vegetables in them.
11. Olives and Olive Oil
Olives and olive oil contain numerous health-promoting compounds. One of their most studied compounds is called oleocanthal, which has anti-inflammatory properties that rival ibuprofen’s effects.
Studies indicate that olive oil can help increase fat loss and promote lean body mass preservation as well. The combination of the healthy fats found in olive oil and its anti-inflammatory properties are the primary reasons why this fatty food can help make you thin.
12. Chili Peppers
Eating chili peppers may be a helpful addition to a weight loss diet. Each chili pepper contains capsaicin, a substance which has been shown to reduce appetite and increase fat burning in several studies.
For example, one study showed that eating 1 gram of red chili pepper reduced appetite and increased fat burning in people who didn’t regularly eat peppers.
However, there is evidence that people who are accustomed to eating spicy foods may build up a tolerance, consequently creating less of an appetite reduction and fat burning effect. In other words, those of you who love spicy foods may have to raise the stakes a bit to reap the fat loss benefits of chili peppers.
Avocados are an essential part of the ketogenic diet, especially in the beginning. This is because these fatty fruits are high in several vitamins and minerals, including potassium. For this reason, increasing your avocado intake may help relieve many of the symptoms of the keto flu during the first few days of keto.
When it comes to fat loss specifically, avocados are one of the healthiest and filling keto foods you can eat. About one-half of a medium avocado contains nine grams of carbs, but seven of these are from fiber. On top of that, avocados have a relatively high water content.
Altogether, the fiber and water from the avocado will increase the bulk in your stomach and small intestine, triggering increased satiety with fewer calories.