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Food and drink can influence how much we weigh because it contains calories.
Ideally, we should aim to consume a certain number of calories a day to ensure we stay healthy – 2,500 a day for men and 2,000 a day for women.1
Reducing our calorie intake can help us to lose weight, so too can consuming fat burning foods and drink.
Whether you want to fit back into your favourite pair of jeans or want to look and feel trimmer generally, it’s essential you lose weight healthily. Rapid weight loss is less likely to mean you keep the weight off and may lead to health risks, such as malnutrition and gallstones.2
According to the NHS, the safest weekly weight loss rate is between 0.5kg and 1kg, which equates to around 1lb and 2lb a week.
The safest and most effective way to lose weight (and keep the weight off) involves a combination of factors:3
So now we’ve highlighted the connection between food and drink intake and calories, and the importance of safely losing weight, let’s focus on the foods that can actually help burn belly fat.
1. Black beans – our gut bacteria thrive on the soluble fibre that’s found in black beans, transforming it into butyrate. This chemical has been proven to increase calorie burning in studies carried out on mice.5 Have a read of our article on 3 ways to use black beans for some recipe inspiration.
2. Salmon – contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and belly fat. They work by increasing levels of the hormone, adiponectin, which supports metabolism and burn fat.
3. Avocados – are packed full of monounsaturated fats that can help reduce your appetite and prevent belly fat from building up. Read up on the full health benefits of avocadoes for some more insight.
4. Eggs – are full of protein, so keep you feeling fuller for longer, meaning you’re less likely to snack in between meals. One large egg contains around 78 calories and 6g of protein.
5. Sweet potatoes – contain plant-derived antioxidants called carotenoids that stabilise blood sugar levels. In turn, this can prevent calories from being converted into belly fat.
6. Miso paste – happens to be brimming with good bacteria that can help stimulate the digestive system, strengthen the immune system and burn belly fat in the process.
7. Oatmeal – the oats in oatmeal contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucans, which forms a gel in your small intestine. This gel helps lower blood cholesterol levels, support the immune system, makes you feel fuller for longer and regulates blood glucose levels.
8. Spinach – contains a long-chain sugar molecule called sulfoquinovose (SQ), which can help the stomach stay trim. According to a study published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, SQ promotes the growth of good gut bacteria, which prevent bad bacteria from taking over your gut and causing inflammation and belly fat. Learn how to cook spinach healthily to make sure you get the most nutrients.
9. Plums - contain phenolic fat-fighting compounds called flavonoids. Plums also contain pectin, a gelatin-like fibre that animal studies have found to reduce liver fat (belly fat) and block the absorption of fat cells.
So, that’s some of the best belly fat burning foods, now let’s take a look at some of the best fat burning drinks…
1. Water - is great for weight loss because it contains zero calories plus, it can boost your resting energy expenditure (the amount of calories you burn while still) by up to 30% within 10 minutes of drinking it.5 Find out how much water you should be drinking a day to make sure you're getting enough.
2. Fennel water – can help reduce indigestion, which can sometimes contribute to weight gain. Its antibacterial properties help keep your gut healthy, which helps you to process food more effectively.
3. Green tea – helps burn fat in two ways. Number 1 – the caffeine content helps increase calorie expenditure due to the fact it’s a stimulant. And number 2 – it also contains an antioxidant called, epigallocatechin gallate, which is a metabolism booster and can help break down excess body fat. Read more about the link between green tea and weight loss here on The Health Hub.
4. Ginger tea – some studies have found that drinking ginger tea just before you eat can fill you up and therefore make you less prone to eating too much.
5. Black tea – as with most teas, black tea contains caffeine, which can ramp up metabolism. It also contains compounds called polyphenols, that can increase healthy gut bacteria and promote the breakdown of fat.
6. Cumin tea – the spice, cumin, is used to make cumin tea and contains antioxidant properties due to the active ingredient, thymoquinone. Although initial studies have endorsed cumin’s weight loss abilities, more research is required.
7. Apple cider vinegar – contains acetic acid, which can improve metabolism and curb food cravings. One particular study carried out on people with type 1 diabetes found that it slows the rate in which food empties from your stomach. For more information, find out exactly how ACV helps with weight loss.
8. Vegetable juice – drinking vegetable juice means you’re consuming more veggies (albeit in drink form). And more vegetables mean a higher fibre intake, which can fill you up for longer.
9. Protein shakes – protein is a macronutrient that keeps your stomach feeling satisfied. It does this by activating certain hormones, such as GLP-1, that reduce hunger and ghrelin, the hormone that controls our appetite.
Fruit is great for losing weight because it’s generally low in calories and packed full of make-you-feel-fuller-for-longer fibre, as well as vitamins and other nutrients.
As for the best fat burning fruits, citrus fruits tend to lead the way when it comes to helping burn away fat, particularly:
They contain a compound called bromelain that works with other enzymes to help break down and digest fats. According to research caried out by Purdue University, pineapple also supresses appetite and increases fat excretion.6
Eating half a grapefruit can help to reduce calorie intake and increase satiety. At least two studies have been carried out to test the effectiveness of grapefruit on weight loss. A 12-week study of obese patients found that eating half a grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice before meals may help with weight loss.7
Handpicked content: The best fruits for weight loss
It’s possible for you to burn fat while you sleep if you eat food that burns more calories than the food contains. They include:9
Citrus fruits – they contain fat-burning nutrients, fibre and vitamin C. Vitamin C contains the carnitine amino acid, which stimulates the body’s fat-burning abilities. It essentially dilutes fat and eliminates it.
Legumes – are a protein source, which takes longer to digest and burns more calories in the process plus, makes us feel fuller for longer. Examples include: kidney beans and chickpeas.
Whole grains – contain complex carbohydrates and fibre, which both support your metabolism. What’s more, they can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the need to snack in between meals.
Yes, it’s possible that certain food and drink can help you burn fat and lose calories, thanks to metabolism-boosting properties, the fact they keep you feeling fuller for longer and take a while for your body to burn, which requires more calories.
Where possible, try to incorporate fat burning foods and drinks that burn fat in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced diet to make sure you lose weight safely and are able to sustain your weight loss results. Fat burning foods and drink can help you lose calories, but they are only part of the overall weight loss equation.
Last updated: 10 May 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.