The 7 Most Effective Fat-Burning Foods, According to Science

Updated 11/22/19
Avocado Toast with eggs
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If you’re looking to boost your metabolism, proper nutrition can offer up some easy solutions—outside of the gym. Integrating fat-burning foods into your diet can serve to boost thyroid function, revving up your entire system to naturally detox the body.

From avocados to lean protein, fat-burning foods are invaluable for building lean muscle mass, reducing cravings, and kick-starting weight loss. Foods that naturally have a high thermogenic effect offer up the best bang for your metabolic buck. You’ll be burning off calories even as you chew. There also exist a handful of specific nutrients and compounds that skyrocket metabolism.

Our favorite peak-performance foods for ridding the body of excess fat stores also happen to be delights in the kitchen. Establishing a routine that you look forward to each day will set you up for success. Enter our list of MVPs. Science is about to make summer ab upgrades all too easy.

A graphic featuring an illustration of an avocado above the word
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It takes good fat to burn fat. The monounsaturated fats found in avocados trigger fat-burning hormones while simultaneously serving as the perfect energy boost for exercise. Avocados also contain mannoheptulose, a sugar that blunts insulin release and boosts calcium absorption, two functions key to fat loss. They’re also full of antioxidants and low-calorie, vitamin-rich fuel. According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate just half a fresh avocado with their lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. We knew guacamole was a life force. Add some to your daily diet to stabilize glucose and insulin response and stay satiated long after mealtime.

A graphic featuring an illustration of green tea leaves above the words
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Boost your metabolism with antioxidant-rich green tea. A low-caffeine alternative to coffee that's loaded with nutrients, green tea’s benefits include increased brain function, curbed cravings, and improved mood, in addition to its natural fat-burning potential. Green tea has also been proven to reduce free radicals in the body and lower the risk of cancer.

Have a few glasses each day (four cups is enough to boost metabolism) or try it as a matcha latte. The potent green tea powder is grown in the shade, reducing photosynthesis and boosting amino acid levels in the plant. A ceremonial Asian tea, the superfood matcha packs a potent amount of catechins, powerful antioxidants that naturally detox the body.

A graphic featuring an illustration of a cut of bison above the word
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Lean meats have a high thermogenic effect on the body. In fact, 30% of the calories in lean meats are burned up during digestion. Red meat provides essential proteins for building muscle and bone. It also contains immune-boosting zinc and plenty of B12. Bison meat ranks among the highest-quality meats you can consume. Rich in amino acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), bison also contains 35% more protein and less than half of the fat and cholesterol of beef.

A graphic featuring an illustration of an egg above the word
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Omega-3 fats improve insulin sensitivity, thus naturally trimming abdominal fat. A perfect protein, eggs contain nine essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fats that naturally decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage in the body. Make sure you’re selecting cruelty-free and ethically sourced animal products. For the best eggs you’ve ever had, we highly recommend hitting up your local farmers market for the farm-fresh version every week. It’s worth the marginal extra cost. Trust us.

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High in vitamins A, C, B6, and K, as well as potassium, red-hot chili peppers make a strong case for eating spicy foods. The most notable fat-burning compound found in chilis is capsaicin, which has a thermogenic effect that may cause the body to burn more calories up to 20 minutes after consumption. Add some habaneros or jalapeños to your summer salads and you’ll also enjoy extra antioxidant power and natural serotonin boosts.

A graphic featuring an illustration of ghee above the word
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Clarified butter is at the top of our list of surprising healthy foods. “Fat is very likely the most misunderstood of the macronutrients,” says nutritionist Renee Fitton. “Fats are essential to our health. While trans fats can cause serious health damage, other fats, like those found in butter, can be vital to proper nutrition.” High in butyric acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that reduces inflammation, ghee is significantly easier to digest and contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. Ghee also contains conjugated linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that improves lean body mass when consumed daily. Adding ghee to your daily routine can boost effective weight loss. Did we mention it’s also crazy delicious?

A graphic featuring an illustration of a slice of grapefruit above the word
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Author and slow-carb-diet advocate Timothy Ferris swears by a dose of grapefruit preceding any big food splurge. Ferris recommends using grapefruit juice to maintain steady blood sugar levels, offsetting the insulin spike that follows consuming extra carbohydrates on a “cheat day.” High in soluble fiber, grapefruit takes the body longer to digest, enabling the fruit to serve as a mild appetite suppressant when consumed before a meal. One glass of grapefruit juice before a feast is likely to help you consume fewer calories overall.

A graphic featuring an illustration of bean sprouts above the words
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Keeping your diet alkaline will naturally prompt the body to detox and burn fat. When you’re reaching for leafy greens, add in some raw sprouts. An excellent source of dietary fiber, sprouts are chock-full of health benefits. Rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, they contain potent minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron. Mung bean sprouts are also fat-free and a great source of vitamin B2, which helps to boost metabolism and burn fat, and fenugreek sprouts are a potent digestive aid. The high enzyme content in sprouts helps the body to effectively assimilate nutrients and aids in proper digestion.

A graphic featuring an illustration of a sweet potato above the words
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One of the best natural anti-inflammatory foods, sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber, with a concentrated vitamin and mineral content. These complex carbohydrates contain vitamins B6 and C along with beta-carotene, as well as manganese to fight inflammation. Some research suggests sweet potatoes may boost the hormone adiponectin, which serves to mobilize fat in the body. The low glycemic index carb is also wildly easy to cook and pairs with plenty of delicious recipes. 

Make sure to include these seven fat-burning foods into your regular routine. They’re full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to help you feel your best.

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