Fat loss foods do not exist. There, I said it.
Sure, I could list out foods like broccoli, kale and sweet potatoes and tell you why you should eat them. Then I could list things like refined sugars and fruit juices and reasons you should minimize them.
Fact is, there are no foods with magical fat loss properties. No food exists that when you eat it, you will burn fat. There is no debating this. If you see an ad for a protein powder that says it is a fat loss food, #yougotgurud.
The fact is, all foods have calories. All foods, if eaten in excess, will cause you to store fat. Yes, even broccoli. But – who can overeat broccoli? It’s just not possible. (Well, it’s certainly not likely.)
So what do people mean when they refer to such foods as “fat loss foods”?
These are foods that (1) balance your hunger (2) stabilize energy levels and (3) reduce cravings. Does this mean kale? It could to one person, but not everyone. We all have metabolic individuality. My fat loss foods might not be the same as your fat loss foods.
Common characteristics of fat loss foods
Typically, these are foods high in protein, fiber, and water, and low in sugar, starch, and fat.
A common problem I hear from my clients is that they feel tired in the afternoon, so they are driven to snack food dense in sugar, starch, and fat. You don’t want the 2:30 afternoon crash that leaves you in zombie-mode in front of the vending machines. Fat loss foods are foods that prevent this post-meal hangover.
For me, I LOVE huge salads. If you follow me on Instagram, this should come as no surprise as I frequently post my larger than life salads. Here and here are a few others. These are all jam packed with protein and the abundance of greenery, veggies, oil and vinegar, have them full of fiber and water. This leaves me easily satisfied until my next meal.
We each have our own personal preferences. You may not enjoy salads as much as me. If you eat salads for lunch that may leave you binging on pizza for dinner. In your case, salad would not be a fat loss food. We each need to be individual fat loss detectives and see which foods we respond best to. Remember the goal is to feel satisfied after the meal and not be susceptible to hunger and cravings. Don’t force yourself to eat something you don’t like as this will ultimately result in failure. If you don’t like kale – DON’T EAT IT! Find what you do like that meets the requirements mentioned above.
It’s important to continue to try and introduce new foods to your diet. Just because you didn’t like salad as a kid (what kid likes salad?), doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally try and work it into your diet. A few foods I went 20+ years without touching but now can’t live without: cottage cheese, guacamole, blue cheese dressing, avocados and mushrooms. Remember your palate changes over time – so experiment!
Do fat loss foods = organic foods?
Not necessarily. Contrary to what you may have read, organic foods aren’t more nutritious than their non-organic counterpart. They are healthier because they have less chemicals and pesticides, but are not more nutrient-dense than the latter. If you want the most nutrient-dense foods, shop local. For more reasons to shop local, click here.
What’s the difference between fat loss foods and weight loss foods?
Fat loss foods help us lose fat primarily. How? By balancing hunger, stabilizing energy and controlling cravings. Our hormonal chemistry, or “HEC” as the folks at Metabolic Effect call it, is in check. These foods make it more likely that we will eat fewer foods later.
Weight loss foods do not accomplish this hormonal balance. Eating less of anything (ie: low calorie, traditional diets) lead to muscle and fat loss. Of course, we all want to burn fat, but we never want to burn our strong, metabolic muscle. Eating less often leads to increased hunger, lack of energy and insatiable cravings. This is why eating less rarely works; it is a constant battle against willpower.
How can I find my personal fat loss foods?
Simple. Experiment. Monitor your hunger, energy and cravings after each meal. Be weary of common inflammatory foods if you struggle with this. Some examples of this are grains, dairy, soy, sugar and alcohol. Milk could be an excellent fat loss food for one person, but be the reason another person struggles to lose the last five pounds from their hips. Experiment with elimination diets. Exclude each of these well-known inflammatory foods for 21-28 days then slowly re-introduce them back into your diet one-by-one and see if you notice any reactions.
For most of us, foods rich in protein + fiber + water relative to their sugar + starch + fat content will be our fat loss foods.