Use these ten foods in your diet to support fat loss and get the physique you desire. Assuming you are training regularly, including these foods in a high-protein, relatively low-carb whole food diet will help you get and stay lean, while feeling energized and motivated throughout the day.
These ten foods will help you lose fat because they support your body to do one or more of these five things:
• Increase the body’s use of fat for energy, shifting it to burn fat instead of carbohydrates.
• Decrease chronic inflammation and improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin so that blood sugar from carbohydrates is used for energy or stored as muscle glycogen and doesn’t turn into fat.
• Improve the body’s internal detoxification system to enhance elimination of waste products and toxins that slow the metabolism.
• Support tissue repair and increase the body’s resting metabolic rate so that more energy is burned when food is broken down.
• Improve the endocrine response to food—there are many effects of this, including lower insulin and cortisol, better elimination of excess estrogen, and higher leptin, which blunts feelings of hunger.
#1: Cold Water Fish: Salmon, Whitefish, Mackerel, Sardines & Anchovies
These cold water fish are high in the omega-3 fats that improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation. The effect is of getting the majority of dietary fat from omega-3 fats is fat loss and improved body composition. For instance, a recent study of healthy adults showed that taking 4 grams of omega-3s a day for 6 weeks significantly increased lean mass and decreased body fat. Other studies have shown an association of a better body composition in people who eat more than 5 servings of cold water fish a week.
Take Away: Get the majority of your dietary fats from foods that are high in omega-3 fats. Cold water fish is a great place to start, and grass-fed and wild meats can increase your intake. Eat a serving of one of these high-protein sources at every meal.
#2: Nuts: Walnuts & Almonds
Nuts are high in antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and research shows that supplementing the diet with them can significantly improve body composition. They not only increase the metabolic response to eating, but they increase feelings of satiety and blunt hunger—the hormone leptin has been found to be higher in people who eat nuts daily.
Walnuts may be the healthiest nuts because they are typically eaten raw with the skin on, which increases their antioxidant content. Almonds also top the list of fat burning nuts because of their high protein and fiber content, and they contain a lot of vitamin E that supports detoxification.
Take Away: Eating a serving of nuts a day in conjunction with a high-protein, low-carb diet can produce significant fat loss and help you feel satisfied.
#3: Whey Protein
Whey protein, which can be found in dairy products and taken as a supplement, is a super food for body composition because it enables the body to repair tissue and burn fat. It also enhances the body’s internal antioxidant system by increasing something called glutathione.
Research shows that exercise performance and fat loss are enhanced when the body’s glutathione levels are higher during strength training. For example, in one study that had men take 22 grams of whey protein daily in conjunction with a strength training program had them lose more body fat than a group that only strength trained and didn’t supplement with whey.
Take Away: Supplement with whey protein daily to increase your metabolic rate, antioxidant status, and support tissue repair.
#4: Berries: Blueberries, Strawberries & Raspberries
Besides being delicious, berries are great for fat loss because they contain fiber, antioxidants, and have been shown to blunt the amount of insulin the body produces in response to eating them with high-carbohydrate foods. Raspberries, in particular, contain a unique antioxidant called ellagitannins that have been shown to improve the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, making you feel less hungry.
Take Away: Get multiple servings of berries daily. Throw in a serving of the superfruits mango, pomegranate, and tart cherries for variety—all three convey similar benefits as berries and food scientists have called them all “anti-obesity” fruits.
A recent review of foods that can treat obesity and prevent diabetes wrote that the “avocado has tremendous antioxidant capacity,” and has been shown to completely eradicate chronic inflammation related to high body fat in mice. Adding avocados and pomegranates to the diet of the mice allowed for them to lose fat and have better insulin sensitivity over time.
Take Away: Selectively include avocados in your diet. Depending on other fat intake, eat them a few days a week. One avocado contains 250 calories, 10 g of fiber, 15 g of monounsaturated fat, 4 g of protein, and 20 essential nutrients.
#6: Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables
The cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower help the body clear excess estrogen—both naturally occurring and chemical estrogens such as BPA. By a variety of mechanisms, compounds in these veggies can interact with the genes involved in estrogen binding, while clearing estrogen from the body.
In addition, research shows that the high fiber content of these veggies will delay carbohydrate absorption, favorably modifying the glucose response. Their inherent high fiber brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. Dark green vegetables usually have a large antioxidant content as well.
Take Away: Shoot for multiple servings of cruciferous vegetables daily. Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, collards, arugula, radish can be eaten raw, added to salads, or steamed. Raw food are better for fat loss, but the key is to eat them daily, so if cooked is more palatable, go for it.
Eggs are an excellent protein source and they also provide a nice dose of choline, which protects the liver from accumulating fat and is the precursor to the energizing neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Increasing acetylcholine levels can increase growth hormone, which is a potent fat burner. Plus, eggs are very filling, and you get a nice boost in metabolism on account of the thermic effect of their high protein content.
Incorrectly feared due to their cholesterol content, eggs haven’t been found to elevate serum cholesterol. The body actually uses the cholesterol to produce testosterone and other androgenic hormones, and it improves the integrity of muscle cell membranes. One study showed that eating 12 eggs a week didn’t increase LDL cholesterol at all, and when exercise was done, the high egg intake improved the participants’ ratio of good to bad cholesterol to the same degree as a group that ate no eggs.
Take Away: Eat eggs a few days a week to increase your protein and choline intake. Avoid eating them daily because this has ben shown to cause intolerances.
#8: Coffee & Green Coffee Extract
There is compelling evidence that coffee increases your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories, and it can help shift the body to burn fat rather than glucose for energy. In addition, we know coffee enhances the body’s defenses against reactive oxygen species, can help modulate blood sugar, and may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The fat loss effect of coffee drinking hasn’t been studied extensively, but one study showed drinking 500 ml of coffee daily for 4 weeks produced 2.5 kg weight loss in overweight subjects. Perhaps more effective, green coffee extract, which comes from the bean before roasting and can be added to any beverage, has been shown to produce significant fat loss: One study compared the effect of giving participants a high-dose green coffee extract (1050 mg), a low-dose (700 mg), or a placebo for 6 weeks and found that the large dose resulted in an average 8 kg loss in body weight and a 4.4 percent drop in body fat—very impressive. The low dose and placebo produced no changes in body composition.
Take Away: Using green coffee extract and drinking coffee can help you lose fat in conjunction with a healthy diet. They aren’t a weight loss solution, but a nice addition to a complete fat loss diet. Green tea provides similar benefits as coffee if it is your beverage of choice.
Kimchi, a fermented Korean food made from napa cabbage, onions, garlic, and fiber, has been shown to aid digestion, improve insulin sensitivity, and produce fat loss. A recent study showed that overweight subjects who ate 100 grams of kimchi at every meal for 4 weeks produced significant fat loss and decreased body fat by 1.5 percent. Blood pressure and blood sugar control were both lower by the end of the study.
Take Away: Include kimchi and other fermented foods in your diet daily for better health and fat loss. Get kimchi at an Asian food store or Whole Foods.
Vinegar aids the body in storing carbohydrates as muscle glycogen rather than storing them as fat. In addition, studies show eating vinegar as a seasoning with meals can improve pancreatic function, and lower the insulin response to carbs. Even if you just add vinegar to your salad or cruciferous vegetables, it can lower the insulin response to your whole meal, leading to a more moderate elevation in blood sugar.
Take Away: Balsamic and white wine vinegar are some of the most delicious vinegars, but you can add any kind to your meal daily and get the fat loss benefits.