Determine your body’s caloric needs. According to Medline Plus, if your activity level is low to moderate, you must consume 13 to 15 calories per pound to maintain your weight. One pound of fat contains approximately 3,500 calories, so to lose 1 lb. of fat per week, you should consume approximately 500 fewer calories per day than you need to maintain your weight. Using the above values, calculate the number of calories you must consume to achieve your fat-loss goals.
Track your calorie consumption. Using a food diary, keep track of the foods you eat over the course of the day and the number of calories they contain. Aim to consume the number of calories you calculated in Step 1. Menu planning can also play a significant role in using foods to burn fat. Plan your meals in advance in order to distribute your caloric intake evenly over the course of the day.
Understand metabolism. If you prefer to not count calories for convenience, certain foods may help burn more fat than others. According to MayoClinic.com, of the energy your body needs to function, a majority is used to keep your body operating normally — fueling organs, for example. A smaller portion is used to perform physical activities like walking, running and exercising, and about 10 percent of the energy your body consumes in a day is used to digest food. According to some studies, some foods actually require more energy to be metabolized than they provide, therefore burning calories and fat.
Exchange some of your diet staples for “fat-burning foods” to ensure a lower overall caloric intake without counting calories. Some of these foods include celery, oranges, apples, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, zucchini and carrots. However, anything used to top these foods or cook them can counteract their fat-burning potential.
Tips and Warnings
- The idea of “negative-calorie” foods is still in question. While many doctors agree that digesting certain foods will burn more calories than the foods provide, there isn’t conclusive evidence as to exactly how many negative calories each of these foods contains and whether this is an effective means of burning fat.
- Discuss any changes to your diet and exercise habits with your physician. Consuming significantly fewer calories than your body needs to function can trigger your metabolism to slow down; your body will feel as though it’s starving, and slowing metabolism conserves energy. A combination of calorie-burning exercise and lower caloric intake is more effective than diet alone.
Foods That Burn Fat Easily
Fish is a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids and decreases the amount of leptin in your body. Leptin, according to Men’s Health, plays a key role in your metabolism, determining whether your body burns calories or stores them as fat. More leptin in your body makes you more likely to store fat, while lower leptin levels makes you more likely to burn fat.
Lean beef, turkey, chicken and pork can play a large part in helping you shed fat. The protein within these lean meats requires more energy to digest. So if you are eating more protein, your body will work harder to digest it, burning more calories and fat. The key, though, is that the meat you eat is lean and relatively void of additives. Cut away any fat or skin that may be on the meat, and minimize–or completely avoid–any marinades or sauces that will pack extra calories into your dish.
Hot peppers, particularly jalapenos, habaneras and cayennes, help you burn fat by boosting your heart rate. Hot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin; capsaicin gives peppers their spicy taste and helps boost your metabolism as your body works to cool itself down. Spicy meals, according to Men’s Health, can boost your metabolism by nearly 25 percent, and the boost can last as long as three hours.
Milk, Whole Grain and Oats
Milk, whole grains and oats can help burn fat by providing your body with complex carbohydrates and calcium. Complex carbohydrates and calcium help keep your metabolism going by keeping your insulin levels low after you eat. High insulin production, according to Men’s Health, triggers your body to start storing fat; fat is stored when your metabolism slows. But if your metabolism keeps moving and the insulin stays low, your body will burn fat more easily. Low-fat yogurt is another great source of calcium and produces the same effect on your insulin levels.
Berries and Other Fruits
Berries and other fruits provide your body with healthy doses of fiber, which works two-fold in helping you burn fat. First, fiber helps you feel full for a longer period of time, causing you to eat less in the long run. Second, like calcium and complex carbohydrates, fiber does not greatly boost your body’s insulin production, helping your metabolism burn more fat.
Vegetables are great foods that help you burn fat easily. Particularly good are asparagus, lettuce and celery. Asparagus helps flush fluids out of your body and contains only 26 calories per cup. Lettuce also minimizes your caloric intake; iceberg lettuce provides only 6 calories per cup. Celery gives only 14 calories per cup. Simply digesting these foods burns more calories than the foods contain, making them very effective fat-burning foods.