A successful plan to reduce belly fat should have a multi-faceted approach. You need to consider many factors affecting your ability to burn fat, and then take small steps that add up to big results. Choosing foods that help burn belly fat is a big part of the equation. Putting them into your weight loss meal plan holds you accountable too! That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best fat burning foods to help you on your journey.
Low Carb Foods that Help Burn Belly Fat
A reduction in carbohydrate foods has repeatedly shown positive results for weight loss[i] [ii]. Some studies have also found low carbohydrate diets to be favorable for weight loss as compared to calorie and fat restricted diets[iii].
This doesn’t mean you should necessarily jump on board with a keto diet, paleo lifestyle, zero carb diet, or any other restrictive regime. They all have merit, and they might work for you. However, a slightly higher intake of carbs is preferable for many people, so don’t jump into anything before considering whether it’s likely to be right for you.
What we can all focus on, however, is adding healthy low carb whole foods to our eating schedules to help place the body in a position where it will be more likely to burn fat.
Low carbohydrate foods include:
- Lean meats, fish and other seafood
- Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones like spinach, kale and celery (Most of the vegetables that are grown “above the ground” are non-starchy vegetables and can be considered low carb vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Yogurt, milk kefir, cheese and heavy cream
- Bone broth, tea and coffee, herbs and spices
- Oils, butter and ghee
Fermented Foods to Help Reduce Belly Fat
A healthy gut is a crucial part of the equation when it comes to reducing belly fat. One way to help improve your gut health is by including fermented foods in your diet. Fermented foods are high in nutrients, enzymes and probiotics. These basically help populate your gut with beneficial bacteria so that your digestive system can work as it should. Many aspects of modern day life can deplete good bacteria in the gut, so probiotics can be useful for regaining the balance needed for optimal health. They have also been linked to weight loss and in particular fat loss around the stomach[iv] .
Since you can get probiotics in fermented foods, it makes sense to include them as part of your meal plan to reduce belly fat. Cultures all over the world regularly use fermented foods as a major component of their diets. There are many varieties to try. If you’re not used to the taste of them, it can take time to adjust! (Apple cider vinegar shots, anyone?!) Fermented foods include:
- Yogurt and milk kefir
- Water kefir and kombucha
- Apple cider vinegar
High Protein Fat Burning Foods
Regular intake of high quality protein foods can help to reduce belly fat[v]. Protein helps with appetite control and satiety[vi], and studies have found that high protein diets are often favorable for weight loss, fat mass loss, and for preserving muscle mass[vii]. Having more muscle mass is useful when your goal is to burn belly fat. This is because it’s a very metabolically hungry tissue and helps you to burn more calories naturally, even at rest.
Again, this doesn’t mean you need to go for a crazy high protein intake. It’s about finding the right balance of macronutrients that works for your unique body. By aiming to get high quality protein at every meal you can help boost your body’s ability to burn fat. The good news is that if you’re already choosing some of the low carb whole foods we listed above, you may be covering your protein bases at the same time.
Foods that are good sources of protein include:
- Lean meats, fish and other seafood
- Nuts and seeds
- Yogurt, cheese and whole milk
- Beans, tofu and tempeh
Green Tea, Herbs and Spices to Reduce Belly Fat
There are a number of additions you can make to your nutrition without adding any major macronutrients. Certain teas, and herbs and spices for cooking fall under the umbrella of “fat burning foods.”
Green tea is a popular one, and probably one of the most widely accepted thermogenic aids. This basically means that it can speed up your metabolism as a result of the heat that gets generated from drinking it. It can also increase fat oxidation[viii]. The taste isn’t for everyone…if you struggle with it, try adding a squeeze of lemon and see how you go!
Black teas have also been shown to have anti-obesity effects. African black tea has been shown to suppress the elevation of glucose during food intake and reduce body weight in diabetic mice[ix]. We LOVE Yerba Mate.
A variety of herbs and spices can be used in the form of teas, or in cooking, to support belly fat reduction. Spices such as ginger, cayenne and fennel help with salivation and digestion. Herbs such as chamomile, gentian, or dandelion root taken prior to eating can help promote fat breakdown[x].
Prebiotic Foods that Help Burn Belly Fat
Prebiotics are found in plant-based foods and they help promote the growth of probiotics. Since we already know that probiotics and a healthy gut in general can help you reduce belly fat, it makes sense to also include prebiotics in your diet. Oats are a great example of a prebiotic. They feed the good bacteria that are already there, helping it to multiply further. Examples of common prebiotic vegetables include asparagus, garlic, onions and leeks.
Water & Fat Loss!
Finally, adequate hydration is a crucial part of the puzzle when it comes to burning belly fat[xi]. Being well hydrated ensures you don’t mistake thirst signals for hunger. Aim to drink most of your water in between meals to ensure that the important acids in your stomach do their job properly in terms of food digestion.
Here are some simple and tasty ways to improve your hydration levels. You don’t need to drink plain water all the time. Also, many foods have a high water content and can help improve your overall hydration levels. Try these tips:
- Make yourself some yummy infused water
- Drink herbal teas in between meals
- Include foods that have a high water content in your diet. Examples include: cucumbers, tomatoes, beetroot, celery, watermelon, peaches, strawberries, oranges and lettuce
- Include homemade soups in your weekly rotation
What foods do you include in your nutrition intake, to help you burn belly fat? We’d love to know so please feel free to leave a comment below!