Are there foods that can actually help your body burn body fat? Absolutely! In fact, it has been said that proper nutrition accounts for as much as 70 percent of your weight loss results, meaning that what you eat is twice as important as how much you exercise. This is not to say that exercise it not an important part of weight loss, after all, exercise not only helps burn fat and calories, but it also builds muscle – which burns even more fat
What is the perfect fat burning food? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, we need to debunk a couple of myths about fat burning foods.
Negative Calorie Foods. First of all, that is a bit of a myth, as ALL foods contain some amount of calories. There are claims that certain foods require more calories to digest than they contain, but there is actually no scientific evidence to support this claim. You may have heard celery and grapefruit called out as negative calorie foods, but both are effective weight loss founds because they are low in calories and high in fiber, taking up space in the stomach that might otherwise be occupied by high calorie foods.
Green Tea and Hot Peppers. On the other hand, green tea does have a slight thermogenic (fat burning) effect. Unfortunately, it is a very small effect. Drinking 3-4 cups of strong green tea will give you body a short-lived metabolic boost, but you will need to continue drinking tea throughout the day to sustain it, meaning that you can only expect to burn about 80 calories in any 24-hour period. Hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin that also triggers a slightly thermogenic boost, but the maximum tolerable dose only burns about 21 calories.
Unless you plan on eating bushels of hot peppers while drinking gallons of green tea, it’s best to follow a more balanced fat burning diet.
Real Foods That Burn Fat. The good news is, all food has some thermogenic effect, meaning that it takes calories to fuel the digestive process for every food we eat. But it is also true that it takes more calories to digest some foods than others. Fats, for example, are very dense in calories at 9 calories per fat gram (as compared to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbs), but fats require very little effort to digest. So you’re “getting” a lot of calories without “burning” very many calories.
Conversely, lean protein (with the emphasis on lean), contributes only 4 calories per gram of protein, but it more difficult to digest. So eating a gram of protein has a much lower “net” caloric effect than does eating a gram of fat.
As mentioned earlier, protein is also key to increasing muscle mass; since it takes more calories for our body to support one pound of muscle than it does one pound of fat, the more muscle you have, the more fat your body will naturally burn.
So it can be said that protein is the perfect fat burning food. The average person needs about 50 grams of protein per day, and body builders will often consumer 2-3 times that amount. Just make sure to focus on low fat source of protein such as skinless chicken and turkey breasts, fish of all kinds, egg white, low fat dairy products, nuts and seeds. You can also use protein shakes as meal replacements, but be wary of any that contain more than 1 gram of sugar. Beans and legumes are also good sources of protein and should be included in a vegetarian diet.
The author is a freelance writer specializing in the topics of weight loss and women’s fitness. She has published a number of articles on nutrition and weight loss at WomensFitnessToday.com, a website dedicated to women’s fitness and health.