Burning fat isn’t all about exercising (although this helps) or simply not eating (which is bad for you): there are a number of food that can help you to burn fat. “Burning fat by eating” – now that’s a concept I can get into. Here are 9 food that help to boost your metabolism – or in other words, that will get your body breaking down fat without any exercising at all (although this is also good for you and you should do it):
1.) Salmon, tuna and sardines.
These food all speed up your metabolism by lowering the level of a hormone called leptin in your body. A study done by researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that mice with lower levels of leptin had faster metabolisms and were able to burn fat more quickly than mice with higher levels of leptins.
Similarly, in a study done by researchers at the MAYO clinic, a not-for-profit medical practice as well as medical research group based in Rochester, Minnesota, they found that, among two different African tribes, the tribe which ate significant amounts of fish had much lower leptin levels than the other tribe whose diet consisted mainly of vegetables. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are also all high in omega-3 fatty acids, which provide a number of other health benefits.
2.) Coffee, or green tea.
The caffeine in coffee serves to speed up your heart rate, which in turn causes you to burn more calories. On top of the caffeine which is also found in green tea, green tea also contains a chemical called EGCG that causes your brain and nervous system to work faster, which in turn also causes you to burn more calories. Studies have shown that a combination of caffeine and EGCG taken three times a day can cause you to burn an additional 80 calories each day without the help of any exercise.
Additionally, studies have shown that consuming caffeine within 12 hours prior to a workout can on the one hand make you able to work out longer, and on the other hand will increase the amount of oxygen you take in – and since the amount of oxygen you take in is directly related to how fast your metabolism is working, this also means that caffeine taken prior to a workout will cause your body to burn more calories.
3.) Milk, yogurt, or anything else high in calcium.
The calcium found in milk and yogurt also acts as a trigger for your metabolism. A study at the University of Tennessee determined that dieters who consumed between 1200 and 1300 milligrams of calcium per day lost significantly more weight than did their non calcium-partaking fellow dieters.
One of the factors in the slowing down of your metabolism (which causes you to store fat) is a spike in your insulin level. Food that take a long time to break down in your stomach, such as oatmeal, keep your insulin levels low, consequently preventing your metabolism from slowing down in order to store more fat.
Another note related to metabolism and oatmeal: Eating breakfast every day is another way to keep your metabolism up and running; studies have shown that skipping breakfast tends to slow your metabolism down.
5.) Hot peppers, like jalapenos, habaneros or cayenne.
The chemical in hot peppers that makes them spicy, called capsaicin, like caffeine, speeds up your heart rate and boosts your metabolism. Studies have shown that eating only one spicy meal per day can speed up your metabolism by as much as 25 percent, and that the increased rate of calorie burning from eating a spicy meal can last for up to 3 hours after eating. On top of that, a recent study done at the University of Laval in Quebec, Canada found that consuming caffeine along with meals and snacks containing hot peppers can cause you to burn an extra 1000 calories a day than if you had skipped the caffeine and the peppers.
6.) Lean beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or anything else high in protein.
According to Doug Kalman, R.D., who is the director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates, it requires more energy from your body to digest protein than it does for carbohydrates or fat. This means that the more protein you eat, the harder your body will have to work to digest your food, and the more calories you will burn. Studies have shown that replacing 20 percent of the carbohydrates in your diet with protein can help you boost your metabolism, and increase the number of calories you burn in a day by 5 percent.
Now, if you are wondering whether all of the calories in the food mentioned above are not going to overwhelm even your increased metabolism speed, don’t worry, because I am wondering the very same thing. There are plenty of other food besides those listed that are high in protein, however, so some beans or tofu are good options as well.
You might want to argue here that water is not a food, but there is no arguing that drinking a lot of water helps you to lose weight. Studies have shown that drinking 2-3 glasses of water before a meal can help you to lose weight (likely because the water fills you up, causing you to eat less). On top of that, filling up on water will make it less likely that you will slake your thirst of other sugary drinks. On top of all that, your metabolism requires a certain amount of water to do its thing properly, so being dehydrated can cause your metabolism to slow down.
On top of the protein you get from these, they also contain a lot of iron (1 cup of lentils contains about 35 percent of your daily iron needs). Many people, whether they know it or not, are iron deficient; and guess what happens in your body if it is deficient in any nutrient? -Your metabolism slows down. On top of that, lentils are also very high in fiber, which also takes your body some extra energy to digest, and also leaves you feeling fuller for longer.
While berries don’t necessarily do anything to speed up your metabolism, they do leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied after a meal, causing you to eat or snack less. It also doesn’t hurt that they are high in antioxidants. The secret to the berry’s power to keep you full is that they are high in fiber – and the added bonus that they are relatively low in calories makes them an even better candidate for fat loss than other high-fibre food.
So, as we said above, eating any or all of these food should help you to burn fat without doing any exercise at all; by simply boosting your metabolism (as well as making sure you are not deficient in any nutrients), you can cause your body to burn more calories even while at rest; and by filling up on water or berries, you can prevent yourself from snacking as well as stop yourself from hydrating yourself with sugary (fat-causing) drinks.
Still, this doesn’t mean that it is recommended not to exercise; on the contrary, as the study on caffeine above showed, using these food to help boost your metabolism can be augmented even further when coupled with exercise. Think of it: if exercise increases your metabolism, and if (for example) eating spicy food containing capsaicin increases your metabolism, then why not combine the two together for a double metabolism boost?
Most importantly, I think we have shown that by simply not eating, or by eating very little, is not the right way to burn fat. On the one hand, why do something that is unpleasant and harmful for you when you can burn fat by eating? On the other hand, the study mentioned above about skipping breakfast showed that skipping meals causes your metabolism to slow down – something that actually causes your body to store more fat. Taking all this into consideration, I think it is clear that a combination of a healthy diet (containing some or all of the food listed above) along with regular exercise is the only right way to lose fat.
Remember, there is no easy fix or miracle solution. If you generally don’t take care of yourself, only to eat some of these fat burning food now and then, then your fat burning goal is probably not going to happen. On the other hand, by simply taking care of yourself through proper diet and exercise, and by getting used to doing this all the time, you can make it so that fat burning as a specific goal or project will be something you no longer even need to think about. At that point, you can begin eating these food simply because they are delicious!