The Best Fat Burning Foods to Eat to Stay Healthy, Say Doctors and R.D.s

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Quinoa and brown rice

Quinoa salad
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Gomer recommends cooking up some of these whole grains, which are high in both fiber and protein that will help keep you fuller, longer. They make a great accompaniment to any meal or a base for salad. A 2022 study done in rats found that quinoa, specifically, helped improve obesity induced by a high-fat diet.

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Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, salmon, and lean beef

Fresh salmon
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Research shows that a high-protein diet is an effective and safe tool for weight loss and preventing obesity-related diseases. That’s because protein not only promotes muscle growth and repair—as it is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of your muscle—but it is the preferred fuel to burn fat. “You actually burn more calories to process protein than carbs and fats,” explains Dr. Petre. This is due to the fact that it has a higher thermic effect, which is the energy you use to digest food into absorbable particles. It also keeps you from snacking, as it slows down digestion. “Over time the calories saved equal weight loss,” Dr. Petre adds.

A bonus? Protein also slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, which wards off sweet cravings and keeps your blood sugar stable.

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Cinnamon

cinnamon sticks with powder on dark stone background
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Studies have found that cinnamon may mimic the activity of insulin, changing how carbohydrates and sugar are metabolized. “The presence of the cinnamon in your body allows your metabolism to speed up just because it takes extra energy to metabolize, which allows you to burn more calories,” explains Dr. Petre.

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Ginseng

Plate of white ginseng roots lying in front of cup of tea
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Research has shown ginseng’s effectiveness against obesity by helping speed up your metabolism, burn more fat, and make you feel more energetic throughout the day. The easiest way to consume ginseng is by drinking it as tea (like this one).

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Ginger

Ginger root and powder
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Fresh ginger root is packed with beneficial nutrients and relaxes the intestinal tract, explains Dr. Petre. It also may help lower inflammation and cholesterol, improve digestion, provide general relaxation, and burn fat. One study found increased ginger intake to be associated with decreased body weight in overweight and obese individuals.

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Turmeric

turmeric
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Turmeric is believed to boost metabolism with its anti-inflammatory effects, according to Dr. Petre. “Turmeric also contains an anti-inflammatory component, curcumin, that suppresses inflammatory messaging in many cells, including fat, pancreatic, and muscle cells. This can help curb insulin resistance, high blood sugar, high cholesterol levels, and weight gain,” she adds.

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Kale

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Kale earns its superfood status by being low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. “Kale contains manganese, a mineral essential for processing food into energy for your cells,” explains Dr. Petre. It is also rich in protein, at 2 grams a cup, and is full of antioxidants that counteract aging and diseases such as cancer.

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Cucumber

Ripe, sliced, fresh fruits, organic cucumber
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Cucumbers’ most significant contributor to weight loss is their high water and low calorie contents. In fact, one review of studies amounting to over 3,000 participants found that eating foods with high water and low calorie contents to be associated with a significant decrease in body weight. Cucumbers also contain the flavonol antioxidant, quercetin, shown to fight inflammation. “Packed with magnesium, the seeds help avoid constipation by hydrating the digestive lining,” Petre adds.

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Chocolate

Directly Above Shot Of Chocolate Bars On Table
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No, this is not a typo. According to Laura Cipullo, R.D., nutritionist and co-author of Diabetes Comfort Food Diet, chocolate can actually help keep your eating plan on track by preventing the “last supper” syndrome of binge eating. “In an effort to convert this attempt at being healthy to a new lifestyle, start with food you know you already love, such as dark chocolate or even milk chocolate,” she explains. Why chocolate? It contains antioxidants and is a source of satiating fat. “You need fat in your diet to feel full so don’t feel bad about including chocolate in your diet,” she says.

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Beans

Close-Up Of Various Beans In Plate On Table
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Beans are an important weight loss food, as they are not only versatile but will help you to feel full for hours due to their high content of insoluble fiber. “Insoluble fiber expands in your belly and GI tract when combined with any liquids. You may at first seem full and perhaps bloated, but the added liquid will help to create a bowel movement which leaves you feeling ‘regular’ and without bloat,” explains Cipullo. One study found that participants with high bean intake had less abdominal obesity than their counterparts, posing the idea that beans and legumes are ideal for weight management.

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Mushrooms

Full Frame Shot Of Mushrooms For Sale At Market Stall
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Cipullo points out that button mushrooms contain glutamic acid, a compound that tastes just like salt. Instead of noshing on potato chips or salted nuts—foods that most of us struggle to eat in small quantities—add raw or cooked mushrooms to your sandwich, wrap, or as a side with lunch to get the salty taste you crave. You can also incorporate them in nearly every meal, including omelets, salads, wraps, stir fry, and stews. Animal studies have shown mushrooms’ effectiveness in reducing hypertension, inflammation, and obesity.

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Hummus

Directly Above View Of Fresh Hummus With Chick-Peas Served In Plate On White Background
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The middle-eastern spread—made primarily out of garbanzo beans, olive oil, and tahini—is a great diet food, according to Cipullo. “It’s rich, creamy, and available in a myriad of satisfying flavors,” she explains. She suggests using one-third a cup to add to veggie sandwiches or just as a snack with a side of veggies. “When used in one-third cup portions, the hummus can qualify as both a source of vegetarian protein and monounsaturated fat.” A 2020 review of humus’ health benefits found it to be associated with improved nutrient intake, diet quality, and healthier eating habits overall.

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Ezekiel toast

9 Grain Artisan Bread Loaf
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While Ezekiel is a brand name, Cipullo specifies that any sprouted grain bread will serve the purpose of keeping you full for a longer period of time, as it’s naturally dense in nutrients and also high in fiber. “Start your day with nut butter spread over this lesser processed form of bread that will definitely help to keep your bowels regular,” she says.

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Water

Close-Up Of Water In Drinking Glass Against Blue Background
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Okay, so water is not a food, but it is definitely a must-have when optimizing your nutrition goals, according to Cipullo. “Warm water is great for stimulating the gastrointestinal tract, helping to prevent constipation (especially with an increase in dietary fiber) and giving you something to fulfill your oral fixation at night,” she suggests. When you notice yourself eating for behavioral reasons after dinner, grab a mug of warm water, or even a decaf herbal tea.

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Whole wheat pasta

Lunch consisting of whole wheat pasta and vegetables
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You don’t have to cut out foods to lose weight. “I don’t know any R.D.s who don’t eat pasta,” she says. She suggests eating whole wheat pasta, which will provide your carb fix while fueling your brain and muscles. “Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy from the brain and even muscles,” she adds. “Having carbohydrates stored in your muscles is essential to keep you energized in between meals and even while on the spin bike or during your favorite exercise class. Don’t fear carbs; rather find a way to include all foods in moderation.”

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Apples

Directly Above Shot Of Apples Over White Background
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Cipullo strongly suggests making “an apple a day” your new mantra, mainly because the fruit is a great source of pectin, a filling fiber. “The pectin in apples really serves to satiate and the crunch when eating an apple appeals to psychological satisfaction,” she explains. Basically, you won’t need chips when you can crunch on crisp apples. One review that examined apples’ effect on weight loss found that five studies associated the consumption of whole apples or apple juice over a four to 12-week period can lead to weight loss in people who are overweight.

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Nut butter

Homemade almond butter
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Cipullo maintains that a natural nut butter is ideal for preventing overeating. “As a nutritionist, I recognize the value of blood sugar and hormone management for identifying satiety and staying full,” she explains. “By eating carbs, proteins and fats together, you lower the glycemic load of the meal and therefore decrease your output of insulin.” Clients who are insulin resistant tend to feel hungrier and gain weight in their abdominal area, she says. “Eat peanut butter or almond butter with your overnight oats or your fruit at snack time,” she suggests.

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Avocado

Whole and sliced avocado on wood
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Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fat—the good kind—and is a great food to eat when you are trying to lose weight because it helps increase satiety until your next meal, explains Lisa Mikus, R.D., C.N.S.C., C.D.N., owner of Lisa Mikus Nutrition Therapy. She also points out that about half an avocado offers 6 grams of fiber and more potassium per gram than bananas.

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Spinach

Directly Above Shot Of Spinach Leaves In Container Over White Background
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Packed with folate (an essential B vitamin) and fiber-friendly, this leafy green is a wonderful food to incorporate into your meals. “Spinach has a high water content which makes it lower in overall calories, while offering a high nutrient content,” explains Mikus. She suggests eating raw in salads, sautéing with olive oil, garlic, and lemon, or adding to smoothies.

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Whole eggs

Close-Up Of Halved Boiled Egg Over White Background
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Eating whole eggs—versus just egg whites—provides fat, fat-soluble vitamins, and protein, according to Mikus. “The combination of fat and protein keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time while the body slowly breaks down these macronutrients,” she explains. A 2023 systematic review found that regular whole egg consumption beneficially affects body mass index in healthy people and those on weight loss diets.

Headshot of Leah Groth

Leah Groth is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in a number of international publications including Glamour, Prevention, Health, VeryWell, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest. In those rare moments that she isn’t putting words together on her keyboard, you can find her chasing after her two children and hunting dogs, working on her 100-year-old colonial home, or trying out all of the cutting edge gadgets and products she is writing about. She also loves working out and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

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