8 Foods That Naturally and Effectively Burn Fat

by Gerry Morton

You might hear them called catabolic foods, thermogenic foods, or negative calorie foods. What it all boils down to is food that burns fat.

There are several ways food can help you burn fat, in fact.

Foods that Burn Fats

Some foods, called catabolic or negative calorie foods take more energy to digest than they possess in calories. This means that the whole digestive process and the calories the body uses to manufacture the enzymes to digest these foods actually uses (burns) more calories than said food contains.

This means more fat burning for you because if you eat a diet of mostly fat burning foods, you’ll end up creating a calorie deficit that requires you to burn more fat for energy.

If you stick to low carb and no sugar catabolic foods—you can create a calorie deficit and suppress insulin—meaning your body will tap into its own fat stores for fuel even more, as it will when you eat ketogenic.

Some foods, called thermogenic foods, activate fat burning in other ways, by containing certain compounds or nutrients, for example, that literally torch fat.

Let’s talk about eight foods that can really help you literally melt the fat off your body.

1. Grapefruit

grapefruit burns fat

Recent research may have us rethinking the old grapefruit diet. It turns out that grapefruit is rich in phytochemicals that literally spike adiponectin, a fat burning hormone. Grapefruit also contains an organic compound called nootkatone that boosts an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the body, giving you a speedy metabolism.¹

2. Spinach


Spinach is a win-win for fat burning. First, it’s considered a high grade catabolic food, meaning that it takes many more calories to digest than it contains. Furthermore, spinach is rich in compounds that are called thylakoids, that are good for shrinking the waistline in three ways: they boost the satiety hormone CKK in the body², they boost leptin, the “I’m full” hormone that signals you to push away from the table³, and three, in animal studies have proven to reduce body size and fat cell size4.

3. Tomatoes


Tomatoes have been getting a bad rap lately. Ever since Giselle Bunchden and Tom Brady began slamming what they call these “inflammatory” nightshade vegetables. But researchers say different. In fact, Japanese researchers recently found a compound in tomatoes called 9-oxo-ODA that can actually tell your DNA to burn more fat.5 With only 5 calories a tomato and full of fibrous flesh, they’re a high catabolic food, too. They’re also loaded with good-for-you antioxidants like lycopene and beta-carotene. In fact, even with cooked tomatoes you get more lycopene than in virtually any other vegetable.

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper sets your mouth on fire and helps you literally roast fat off the body as well. Capsaicin in red chili peppers, for example, not only suppresses appetite and help you eat less at meals, it also raises the metabolism and helps you burn more fat6. Cayenne pepper is a wonderful addition to virtually every food from eggs to soups and salads and can be an easy way to boost your fat burning processes all day.

5. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a high catabolic food, containing only 30 calories a cup. They’re also very fibrous, requiring a lot of digestive energy. They also boast more vitamin C than oranges and research has found that individuals low in vitamin C can burn 25% less calories a day than people with a normal C status.7 Loaded with folate, magnesium, copper, vitamin A, B6, and potassium, Brussels sprouts are nutrient-dense powerhouses.

6. Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea is loaded with flavonoids, phytochemicals with proven fat burning abilities. Rooibos also helps increase satiety by stimulating leptin release. Rooibos  is getting a lot of attention in weight loss research, since a 2014 study published in Phytomedicine revealed that hot, fermented Rooibos tea stimulates fat burning and prevents new fat cells from being formed as well!8

7. Whey Protein

Getting more protein in the diet is essential for anyone wanting to burn fat off the body. Protein helps you turn fat into calorie burning muscle and whey protein has proven to help individuals decrease fat stores on the body as well. For example, in one double-blind study of 90 overweight and obese adults, whey protein shakes helped participants lose 5 pounds more weight in 23 weeks than those not drinking the whey shakes.

Whey protein smoothies also help you stay full and resist snacks, even after a power-workout that typically makes you so hungry you snack all day. They’re perfect pre and post workout for trimming appetite and torching fat.9

8. Sardines


Eating foods high in high healthy fats, like sardine, with a loaded with natural omega 3 fish oil and vitamin D, help nourish the body, boost mood, give you maximum energy, and help balance and elevate fat burning hormones in the body. Research shows that getting more Omega 3s in the diet is smart for anyone wanting to torch fat. Omega 3s not only increase satiety and help curb appetite, they literally help you shrink the size and number of fat cells in the body.

In studies, eating fatty fish or taking fish oil has helped participants lose more weight than other participants.10, 11

Try getting more of these foods into your diet, and watch your weight drop as you nosh on delicious, healthy foods.

¹Murase, T. et. al. (2010). Nootkatone, a characteristic constituent of grapefruit, stimulates energy metabolism and prevents diet-induced obesity by activating AMPK. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism, 299(2): E266-75.

²Köhnke, R. et. al. (2009). Thylakoids promote release of the satiety hormone cholecystokinin while reducing insulin in healthy humans. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 44(6): 712-19.

³Albertson, C. K. (2012). Thylakoids Promote Satiety in Healthy Humans. Metabolic Effects and Mechanisms in Emerging trends in dietary components for preventing and combating disease: pp 521–531.

4Stenkula, K. G. (2017). Thylakoids reduce body fat and fat cell size by binding to dietary fat making it less available for absorption in high-fat fed mice. Nutrition and Metabolism, 14(4).

5Kim, Y.I. et. al. (2011). 9-oxo-10(E), 12(E)-octadecadienoic acid derived from tomato is a potent PPARa agonist to decrease triglyceride accumulation in mouse primary hepatocytes. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 55(4):585-93.

6Janssen, P. L. H. R. (2013). Acute effects of capsaicin on energy expenditure and fat oxidation in negative energy balance. PLoS One, 8(7): e67786.

7Johnston, C. S., Corte, C., and P. D. Swan. (2006). Marginal vitamin C status is associated with reduced fat oxidation during submaximal exercise in young adults. Nutrition and Metabolism, 3: 35.

8Sanderson, M., et al. (2014). Effects of fermented rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on adipocyte differentiation, Phytomedicine, 21(2): 109-17.

9Baer, D. J. (2011). Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults, Journal of Nutrition, 141(8): 1489–1494.

10Thorsdottir, I., et al. (2007). Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content. International Journal of Obesity, 31(10):1560-6.

11Couet, C., et. al. (1997). Effect of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults. International journal of obesity, 21: 637-643.

About the Author:

Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation and exercise. http://www.energyfirst.com is known for offering the world’s best tasting, highest quality, all natural, premium nutrition products such as pure whey protein isolate powder, energy bar, green drinks etc. Read his blog at http://blog.energyfirst.com. Twitter: @EnergyFirst