Summary List Placement
While no food will truly burn fat, there are certain foods that may help you achieve a caloric deficit and lose weight.
These foods often contain one, or multiple, of the following criteria:
- A high thermic effect: Foods like legumes and nuts have a high thermic effect, meaning they take longer to digest and, in the process, your body burns more calories doing so.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Inflammation can increase your risk of disease and weight gain, so it’s best to focus on foods with anti-inflammatory properties like berries and fatty fish in order to combat the risk.
- Satiety: Satiety is the feeling of being full, and some foods will make you feel full for longer than others. Usually nutrient-dense foods loaded with fiber, healthy fats, and protein will offer more satiety than nutrient-poor foods.
Here is a breakdown of seven foods that may help you shed pounds according to the above criteria.
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Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and is also a great source of protein, which helps increase satiety, says Elizabeth Beil, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Elizabeth Beil Nutrition.
How to prepare it: Salmon can be grilled or baked and served with fresh vegetables and brown rice for a well-rounded meal. Just be sure to cook it to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption. If you don’t want to cook salmon at home, buy smoked salmon at the store and add it to salads or your morning toast, says Rajsree Nambudripad, MD, an integrative medicine specialist at Providence St. Jude Medical Center.
Eggs are another great source of protein, containing about six grams of protein per serving. Protein-rich foods, like eggs, also have a high thermic effect, says Daniela Novotny, RD, a senior instructor of biomedical sciences at Missouri State University.
“When eaten in the morning, eggs fill you up and give you energy, which helps control your cravings before lunch,” Novotny says.
In fact, a small 2008 study found participants who ate two eggs for breakfast five days a week for eight weeks experienced 65% greater weight loss and a 16% greater reduction in body fat, compared to the group that ate the same amount of calories in bagels for breakfast.
How to prepare it: In addition to making a great breakfast, Beil says, eggs can be hard-boiled and kept in the fridge for a quick snack or topping for salads.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables belong to the cabbage family (Brassicaceae) and include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories, but high in fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer and decreases overall caloric intake, resulting in weight loss.
“Fiber adds a lot of bulk to the contents of our meals, which can slow down digestion, thereby leading to a feeling of being full,” Novotny says.
How to prepare it: If you don’t like to eat plain veggies, you can blend kale or arugula in smoothies or add them to salads, Nambudripad says.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
However, in a 2018 study, participants on a reduced-calorie diet who drank two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with lunch and dinner lost significantly more weight in 12 weeks than those who did not take apple cider vinegar.
How to prepare it: Apple cider vinegar erodes tooth enamel, so dilute it in water before drinking, and limit consumption to one to two tablespoons a day, Novotny says. You can also use it to make your own salad dressing with olive oil, garlic, and dijon mustard. To help with weight loss, consume apple cider vinegar before a meal since some studies show it can increase satiety.
5. Spicy Food
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The spicy chemical compound capsaicin — found in chili peppers like jalapeño, cayenne, and habanero — has been shown to help the body burn about 50 extra calories a day. Additionally, capsaicin acts as an appetite suppressant.
Other spices like ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, and cinnamon can also help boost metabolism, Nambudripad says. Cinnamon in particular contains a certain flavonoid called quercetin, which can decrease inflammation in the body.
How to prepare it: Use these spices when preparing foods. For example, sprinkle cayenne on scrambled eggs or add it to curries.
6. Lean Chicken
Lean chicken is low in fat and calories, and a great source of protein to keep you fuller longer, Novotny says. Lean pieces of chicken like boneless, skinless chicken breasts contain less fat than chicken wings or drumsticks.
- 20 grams of protein,
- One gram of fat
- 98 calories
How to prepare it: Cook chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming. You can slice cooked chicken breast and add it to salads, or eat it with vegetables and whole grains for a well-rounded meal.
“One thing I see a lot is if you eat plain chicken for every meal, you will get bored and want something else, this is when I see people toss the diet out the window, so adding in variety is key,” Beil says.
7. Green Tea
In terms of weight loss, green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that may activate your metabolism and enhance fat burning, Nambudripad says. However, the research around green tea and weight loss is limited and more studies are needed Beil says.
A small 2008 study found participants who took green tea extract experienced 17% more fat burning while bicycling than those who took a placebo.
How to drink it: How much green tea you should drink a day to potentially help with weight loss has not yet been determined, Novotny says, but research has shown two to three cups a day may offer health benefits like a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Some foods, like lean chicken, salmon, and cruciferous vegetables may help promote weight loss due to their thermic effect and high protein and fiber content, which can help you feel fuller longer and consume fewer calories.
Weight loss is complex and factors like age, genetics, sleep, stress, and medications can influence how easy or difficult it is for an individual to lose weight. While these foods can help, consuming a balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, and vegetables while increasing physical activity is more likely to help you lose weight than restricting yourself to only a certain list of foods, Novotny says.
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