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8 foods that burn fat already in your kitchen

chilli main image, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to eat foods that will help you lose weight simply by eating them? Healthista nutritionist May Simpkin brings you the best foods that burn fat

You might be familiar with the notion that eating foods that are high in calories along with a lack of physical activity causes an imbalance in metabolism, which leads to obesity. The tricky thing, for many of us, is getting the balance right and ensure you maintain a healthy weight. However, metabolism is not always an easy thing to understand and differs person-to-person, varying in efficiency and requiring differing amounts of energy to process the foods and drinks you consume.

MORE: 7 REAL reasons you’re not losing weight

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to eat foods that can help you lose weight, simply by eating them? Although this doesn’t quite make sense on first reading, you may be surprised to know that there really are foods that can help you do just that.

quinoa, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

Research suggests that there are some foods that may help manage weight by boosting metabolism, due to their thermogenic effect on the body. In other words, the amount of energy used and heat produced as your body processes this food.

Research suggests that there are some foods that may help manage weight by boosting metabolism, due to their thermogenic effect on the body

All foods, when consumed, speed up the action of the muscles in the digestive tract, using up energy and producing heat in the process; this is known as Thermogenesis. However, certain foods use up more energy and create more heat as the body “burns” calories. The harder the food is to digest, the more calories the body will have to burn to fully break it down, before it can absorb the nutrients from it.

Thermogenesis kicks in after every meal and the digestive process continue to burn calories many hours after a meal is eaten.

Thermogenesis kicks in after every meal and the digestive process continue to burn calories many hours after a meal is eaten.

The thermogenic effect of food will depend upon the type of food and the amount of food consumed in the diet as a whole. An effective weight loss programme can be modified to include some of these thermogenic foods to help you to achieve your goals, but it is important to remember that this effect will only be achieved as part of a balanced diet.

With this in mind, here are 8 foods that can have a thermogenic effect in your body:

1. Protein

When compared to fats and carbohydrates, eating a meal high in protein has a bigger thermic effect. Proteins are complex nutrients and will require more energy to break them down as part of the digestive process. For example, if you eat a chicken breast containing 300 calories, around 30% ie. 100 calories will be burned during digestion. Research has shown that eating a high protein diet leads to lower weight gain, in part also due to its positive effect on post-meal hunger and desire to eat. Always ensure good protein with every meal or snack, not only for its thermogenic effect but also to help you stay full. Vegetarian protein sources include quinoa, beans, brown rice and lentils.

chicken breast on brown rice, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

2. Whole grains and vegetables

Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats and quinoa (also high in protein) are high in dietary fibre that the gut cannot fully digest and break down. The extra effort the body has to put in requires extra energy, burning its energy stores to digest these indigestible foods. For a higher protein choice, try this Indian-inspired Quinoa and Cauliflower rice.

It is no surprise that any weight loss programme will encourage eating high portions of vegetables and in particular the leafy greens such as spinach, rocket, watercress, kale and cabbage. These vegetables are all high in insoluble fibre. As with complex carbohydrates, these will have a thermic effect on the body as more energy is used up in an attempt to digest these indigestible compounds. So, aim to reach your 7-a-day, of which 5 are vegetables and a maximum of 2 are fruits. Choose fruits with high fibre contents such as apples and pears.

MORE: How to get your 10 a day without REALLY noticing 

veg stir fry, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

3. Chilli peppers

Capsaicin, a compound in chilli peppers stimulates the body to burn energy and create heat. In our bodies, white fat cells store energy and brown fat cells are thermogenic, producing heat by burning fat. A 2015 study suggested that increasing capsaicin in the diet may stimulate thermogenesis and also induce white fat cells to behave like thermogenic brown fat cells.

Use fresh chilis, chilli flakes or cayenne powder to add flavour to marinades and dressings or simply sprinkle liberally on your meals.

red chilli, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

4. Black pepper

Piperine, a compound found in black pepper has a thermic effect and can be responsible for the breakdown of some fat cells. So, reaching for the black pepper not only offers the benefits of its thermic effect but also adds extra flavour to your meal.

black pepper, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

5. Ginger

Ginger also contains capsaicin, responsible for its fiery flavour. Eating ginger, fresh or powdered in your food can increase metabolism due to the increased heat production. Studies also suggest that ginger can reduce feelings of hunger and may help to manage weight. Use it in stir-fries, curries and marinades or try a warming ginger tea; slice into thick discs and add hot water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Ginger can also be grated from frozen or stored in the freezer already sliced ready to use in a tea.

ginger tea, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

6. Garlic

Like ginger, garlic, with its fiery kick, contains compounds that can enhance thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue. Use extra cloves if you enjoy the taste and include in marinades and dressings for a flavour boost.

garlic, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

7. Mustard

Mustard contains compounds found in other spicy foods, and in particular capsaicin, that not only gives it its characteristic flavour but can also help to increase the body temperature when eaten. Add in a teaspoon of mustard to your salad dressing or include in a casserole for added flavour. Try this easy recipe for a Lemon & Mustard Vinaigrette and add in as much mustard as your taste buds can tolerate.

mustard seeds, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

8. Green tea

Studies show that both caffeine and catechin polyphenols found in green tea can help to stimulate the metabolism, boosting the number of calories used by the body and can, therefore, promote weight loss, when combined with a healthy balanced diet and increased physical activity.

green tea, 8 best fat burning foods by healthista

May Simpkin is one of the UK’s
leading nutritionists

May Simpkin is a UK qualified Nutritional Therapist with a Masters Science degree in Personalised Nutrition.  She is an experienced clinician, practising functional medicine from an evidence base, providing the latest research into nutrition. She is a registered practitioner, bound by the code of ethics in clinical practice and has met the strict criteria required for BANT, the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy and the CNHCComplementary and Natural Healthcare Council, which is the council recommended by the UK Department of Health for complementary and natural healthcare services. She is also Chair of the Continual Professional Committee at BANT. In addition, she is registered with AFMCPThe Institute for Functional Medicine – Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice™ and a member of the RSMThe Royal Society of Medicine.

For more information on how to lose weight, nutrient-rich recipes, and ideas visit or Follow May on Instagram: @maysimpkinnutrition or Twitter @MaySimpkin

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