10 Healthy Foods to Eat When You Want to Lose Fat

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10 Healthy Foods to Eat When You Want to Lose Fat
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Is there really such a thing as fat-burning foods? After years as a holistic nutritionist in a medical weight loss clinic, I’ve seen clients try fad diets and “quick fixes” only to end up frustrated and yo-yo-ing from weight loss to pounds regained.

Consider Latrice, a 40-year-old active woman who has done everything to cut calories and lose 20 pounds. She’s struggled for years on the loss-gain cycle. She came to me, fed up that a calorie deficit used to work, but no longer seems to do the job. For the last three years, she has consistently gained five pounds per year, has cravings, and says it’s getting harder to make it through her workouts. She says she simply just doesn't have the energy like she used to. What do we do?

As we age, our bodies require more attention to the nutrients that support our energy systems. 

While fat-burning foods have their appeal, choosing nutrient-dense foods is the goal for a healthy weight loss program that’s sustainable. Prioritize foods that nourish and satisfy you; don’t just eat the least amount possible for a calorie deficit. This nutrition strategy also provides efficient fuel for your ever changing hormone systems, workouts, and overall activity. 

Let’s unpack the term “fat-burning foods.” Certain healthy foods support the body's hormones that are associated with fat storage such as cortisol, the stress hormone. Some healthy foods can give you more energy to exercise for longer or keep you satiated so you consume fewer calories throughout the day.  There are other healthy foods that can increase your metabolic rate, encouraging your body to burn more calories while you’re at rest. Our bodies and their hormone systems work better or “burn better” with a balance of both of these types of healthy foods.

Here’s a list of 10 healthy foods to eat that encourage healthy weight management — and the proper nutrients for sustainable weight loss. 


10 Healthy Foods to Eat When You Want to Lose Fat
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Fish oil supplementation has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to fat storage and more specifically belly fat. These essential fatty acids can’t be synthesized by your body and must be obtained by food, and salmon is one of the largest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies need healthy fats for many things like heart, brain, and hormone health, and research shows it may boost metabolism by aiding proteins for muscle growth. If you don’t like salmon, try tuna or plant-based options like flax seed.


A classic clean, solid lean protein is chicken! With 27 grams of protein per 100 grams, chicken is high in leucine, an amino acid that one study shows protects muscle proteins and promotes fat loss. Try to look for organic sources on this one and use some spices and herbs to make it exciting. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

The list of health benefits on this one is long. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce appetite and lower blood sugar levels. Studies prove that apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which has reduced belly fat in animals. It can be used as a salad dressing or even diluted into a seltzer water or tea for a hint of apple flavor.

White Beans

Cannellini beans are alpha-amylase inhibitors, which means they slow the absorption process of carbohydrates by inhibiting specific digestive enzymes. This slows and reduces a drastic rise in blood sugar levels after eating, unlike refined, highly processed carbohydrates. Try replacing the croutons on your salad with ¼ cup of these beans; air-fry or bake them to get that crouton-like crunch.


Medium-chain triglycerides, otherwise known as the popular MCT oil, is a type of easily-digested fat that may encourage your body to burn more calories throughout the day. These MCTs have a shorter chain length and are quickly metabolized in the body, serving as an immediate energy source. MCT oil is made from coconut oil extracts; consuming 15 to 30 grams of MCTs per day may increase 24-hour energy expenditure by five percent.

Dark Leafy Greens

The first thing that comes to mind on a “diet” is a salad for most. If you’re looking to burn fat, the quality of your salad matters more than the quantity! Kale, spinach, and bok choy are where it’s at for vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Like protein, the fiber that these greens carry promotes satisfaction, which prompts a more efficient fat-burning hormonal response due to the higher volume of vitamins and minerals per calorie. Chop the kale and bok choy finely or blanch it slightly and mix it in with your spinach for a more interesting salad than what you would find at any deli. As always, herbs and spices are great additions without added empty calories.


Curcumin, the compound responsible for turmeric's health qualities, suppresses inflammation. It regulates cell signaling pathways that combat oxidative stress and inflammation. Cortisol and stress majorly affect belly fat storage; to prevent this, practice stress management. Try just 10 minutes of breathing exercises in the morning while you sip a golden milk latte.

Green Tea / Caffeine 

Caffeine stimulates the body’s system to heat up. This triggers adrenaline activity, which tells your body you need more fuel to run. Research suggests that 50–200mg of caffeine increases the amount of energy you burn by six to seven percent. Four hundred milligrams, or 16–24 ounces of caffeine a day is a good limit, as our metabolism thrives on water and caffeine can dehydrate and overstimulate you if taken too often.  


Some research shows that eating grapefruit may result in modest weight loss. Other research suggests that eating half a grapefruit before meals can assist with weight loss and insulin resistance. Whether grapefruit transfers a significant or slight contribution to weight management, it’s a rich source of bioactive compounds — especially polyphenols — that may help lower serum glucose and triglycerides. Slice one up and add to salads and squeeze the juice to use in place of vinegar in a citrus vinaigrette.


10 Healthy Foods to Eat When You Want to Lose Fat
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Blueberries are high in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants that give the berries their blue hue are called anthocyanins; research shows that higher intake of anthocyanins was associated with less abdominal fat. Studies showed that those who ate blueberries had lower triglycerides, cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity, which are measures of how well the body processes glucose for energy. While regular blueberry intake reduced these risks for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, the health benefits were even better when combined with a low-fat diet.

Let’s revisit the 40-year-old woman, Latrice, who needs to focus more on the quality rather than the amount of her calories. For her, switching to foods like salmon and adding MCT oil increased the healthy fats in her diet and gave her more energy for her workouts. 

There are foods that encourage the body to work more efficiently to burn fat instead of storing it. 

Below are a few recipes using the foods above that I suggested Latrice include in her meal plan to support her nutrition needs with minerals, vitamins, healthy fats, and fiber. This promotes healthy hormones and, ultimately, fat burning for consistent weight loss and healthy weight management for Latrice’s future.

Let’s put some of these healthy foods together for two quick salad recipes.

Pro tip: Try to buy organic produce and wild-caught fish if you can afford it to reduce pesticide consumption.

Sweet Chicken Salad 

  • 4 oz. cooked/grilled chicken breast

  • 2 cups mixed dark leafy greens

  • ⅛ cup quartered grapefruit slices

  • ⅛ cup blueberries

  • ⅛ cup almond slices

  • 2 Tbsp. MCT oil

  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

  • Stevia or xylitol to taste, if desired 

Combine chicken, greens, grapefruit, blueberries, and almonds in a large bowl. Add oil and vinegar, and sweetener, if desired, and toss until well combined. 

Savory Salmon Salad

  • 4 oz. cooked/grilled salmon 

  • 2 cups mixed dark leafy greens

  • ⅛ cup white beans

  • ⅛ cup walnuts

  • 2 Tbsp. MCT oil

  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or lemon may be substituted) 

  • Add chopped rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste

Combine greens, beans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Add oil, vinegar, and any spices or herbs you like. Toss until well combined. Add salmon on top of the salad. 

If you’d like individualized advice on the best foods for you, sign up for a free consultation with a certified nutrition expert today.