As human beings, we’re always in search of ways to make everyday activities more efficient- especially when it comes to weight loss. It’s common to hear health experts say “there’s no magic pill” when it comes to weight loss. But there are several articles and blog posts that claim specific foods have fat burning properties. It can become even more confusing when supplements are marketed as being amazing fat-burners, complete with TV features, celebrity endorsements and cardboard signs in your local health food store.
So, let’s find out the truth: do fat burning foods really exist, or are they just a myth?
What Are Fat Burning Foods- and Do They Work?
The foods that are said to have fat burning properties are also called thermogenic foods, which means they produce heat in the body to stimulate metabolism. A few commonly mentioned thermogenic foods include apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, green tea, garlic, ginseng, fennel and turmeric. Thermogenic foods may also include certain fibrous vegetables such as celery that require more energy to chew than to digest, and therefore burn calories in the process. While all of these foods, herbs and spices are excellent to include in your diet for their nutritional content, here’s the truth: eating “fat burning” foods alone is unlikely to make a significant enough impact in weight or fat loss. Sure, thermogenic foods may be able to increase metabolism by a small percentage at the time of eating, but these specific foods simply cannot yield the dramatic, fat-burning results that a healthy, nutrient-dense diet and regular exercise routine can. Besides, the digestive process requires energy from your body, which also burns calories in the process. In this regard, all foods could be considered fat burning foods because they require digestion. But because many foods are called out for their potential “superpowers”, it is important to dispel the myth that a particular spice or superfood can replace a healthy diet. Simply put, the real way to burn fat (and keep it off) is to eat plenty of nutritious foods and exercise regularly.
Do Any Foods Do Have the Power to Burn Fat?
Now that we’ve explained why thermogenic foods aren’t able to offer significant fat burning effects on their own, there are certain nutrients that can help promote fat burning and weight loss. The nutrients that contribute to accelerated fat burning and weight loss are those that help keep your appetite satisfied for longer, promote healthy hormones, support digestion, offer the body amino acids to help build and repair muscle, and teach the body to burn fat more efficiently by taking specific pathways to be metabolized.
These nutrients are:
Fiber is a key nutrient to include in your diet for sustainable weight loss. By acting as a broom to clean out the digestive system, fiber removes toxins and waste that can get stored as extra weight and prevent the body from doing its jobs more efficiently. Fiber is also a critical nutrient for hormone balance. Hormones are linked to weight loss (and weight gain) because they’re in charge of regulating your metabolism and controlling your appetite. Fiber also works to rebalance hormones by stabilizing blood sugar levels and removing excess estrogen from the body. Imbalanced hormones are a common cause of unexplained weight gain or difficult weight loss, even in those who eat relatively healthy and exercise regularly. This is why including an adequate amount of fiber in your diet each day from fruit, vegetables and unprocessed whole grains is so important. Since fiber is slower to digest, it also keeps your appetite full for longer and reduces cravings for sweets, which further promotes weight loss.
Protein is a true fat-burning macronutrient because it helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. And the more muscle mass you gain, the greater your resting metabolic rate can become. Similar to fiber, protein also contributes to weight loss because it helps balance blood sugar levels, which reduces cravings for sugary sweets. Protein takes longer to digest, which keeps your appetite satiated for longer and lessens the desire for extra calories.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)
You can probably remember the infamous saying that stated: “eating fat makes you fat”. But now that we have so much information about the health benefits of essential fatty acids, such as omega 3’s and omega 6’s, it’s clear that not all fats are necessary to avoid. Although they are higher in calories, healthy fats are the perfect example of quality vs. quantity because they contain so many beneficial nutrients that support the brain, heart health, and the liver. Besides, as the slowest macronutrient to digest, healthy fats are not needed in large portions. Healthy fats are also the building blocks of healthy hormones. As previously mentioned, balanced hormones are needed to promote efficient metabolism. While unsaturated fats are the best type of fat to include in your diet for optimal health, such as polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, specifically saturated fat can also help promote the fat burning process: coconut oil.
How Coconut Oil Can Help Burn Fat
Coconut oil is a saturated fat that is made up of medium chained fatty acids. Medium-chained fatty acids are a type of fat that the body can use for energy right away, based on their rate of digestion. This means that none of the fatty acids in coconut oil are actually stored as fat. Instead, the pathway these fats take to be metabolized may help teach the body to burn fat more efficiently. Many other saturated fats (such as heavy dairy products and red meat) are made up of long-chained fatty acids, which take much longer to digest. Long chained fatty acids end up getting stored as fat because they take a longer pathway in the body to be digested. As you can guess, this is why fat got a bad name in the first place. If you’re in search of true fat-burning foods to include in your diet, be sure to load up on fibrous fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats, such as coconut oil. Our personal recommendation for coconut oil is Garden of Life’s Living Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. Coconut oil makes an ideal alternative to vegetable cooking oils and butter and can be used in recipes such as soups, stir-fries, and healthy baking recipes.