In this article, you will learn why fat-burning foods are The Grade-A comedy. It’s rubbish. A bag of Taco Bell farts, even. That’s it. That’s my intro…
If you went through the anals of the Google search for „fat-burning foods“, you would be presented with:
„12 Healthy Foods That Help You Burn Fat.“
„20 Best Fat-Burning Foods To Eat Now – Foods That Burn Fat.“
„15 Fat Burning Foods – What to Eat To Boost Metabolism.“
Just eat fat-burning foods and you will be ripped and cure cancer. And autism. And poverty. And white people not being able to dance (props to James Fell for the line).
If you have read some of my articles, you know I’m a straight shooter. And so here is the truth about fat burning foods that “stoke” metabolic fire:
Fat-burning foods are The Grade-A comedy. It’s rubbish. A bag of Taco Bell farts, even.
Let’s talk about WHY (in the end, I will give you proven strategies to drop fat from your frame).
P.S. In the end (or on your right), you will have an opportunity to sign up for my FREE 14-Day Fat Loss For Life Course.
Fat Burning Foods Are A Big Lie
While writing this article, I’ve seen headlines and articles spouting, “Eat as much as you want!”, “These fat-burning foods will boost your metabolism.” They make me want to punch my laptop, and I love my laptop.
Take a look at what all-mighty Eatthis writes about fat burning foods:
<…> alongside a proper fitness regimen,<…> fat burning foods you eat will help you torch body fat. <…> incorporate these healthy fat burning foods into your diet to whittle your waist and bring your midriff back in line.
But these people aren’t dumb! Right away, they try to cover this bullshit by saying:
No single food will automatically target your turkey neck (fat loss only happens when you burn more calories than you ingest, leading your body to preferentially break down lipid stores for energy).
Well, thank you for all that lengthy article that I had to go through just to find it’s all bullcrap at the end.
Most articles talk about fat-burning foods being able to boost your metabolism. Let’s unpack this bullshit.
Take a look at this fancy-pants infographic:
So for fat-burning foods to boost your metabolism, they should do that in one or more of these ways:
- They should increase your NEAT levels;
Like I said in fat loss priorities article, NEAT is a broad category encompassing the calories burned through leisure, occupation activity, basic activities of daily living, and fidgeting.
Well… fat-burning foods have no impact on NEAT! (strike 1)
- They should increase your resting metabolic rate (BMR);
It’s the amount of energy the body uses to support the functions of the organs and physiological systems.
Do fat-burning foods have an impact on BMR? Nope. (strike 2)
- They should increase your thermic effect of food (TEF);
TEF is the energy the body uses to digest the food. And as I said (read an article on TEF), protein has the highest TEF of about 20-30% whereas carbohydrates’ approximately 5-10%, and fats’ 0-3% (source).
So to boost metabolism, you would need to gobble down protein-based foods in massive quantities. So again, fat-burning foods do not increase TEF to the extent that it would help burn stored body fat. (strike 3)
- They should increase your physical activity (PA).
PA is the energy burned while exercising. Sadly, fat-burning foods have nothing to do with energy expenditure while sweating off buckets on the treadmill. (strike 4)
Yeah, so sorry, but no amount of MCT oil, coffee, coconut oil or apple cider vinegar are going to help magic fairies who ride around on rainbow-colored unicorns to attack your fat cells.
The Funky Logic Behind Fat-Burning Foods
One merit of fat-burning foods, if you can call it merit, is an improvement of diet quality. It makes you incorporate lower calorie foods instead of highly processed, calorie-dense foods.
This results in lowered daily calorie intake and a calorie deficit. Then, magic happens – weight loss.
Check out these fat-burning foods that I found while googling:
- Whey protein;
- Chili peppers;
- Greek yogurt;
- Eggs, etc.
Can you spot a trend here?
All these foods are either high in protein or they are vegetables/fruits. They all have low calorie content!
So the whole logic behind fat-burning foods is to make you eat more whole, low-calorie foods. This translates to lower calorie intake and thus, calorie deficit.
And as I said in how to make belly fat go away article, a calorie deficit is the most important factor to lose fat.
So ingrain this into your synapse:
The mechanism by which fat-burning foods can help lose fat IS NOT fat burning itself but rather, making you eat highly satiating foods that have low-calorie content and big food volume.
Also, these foods aren’t ones that you would binge on, are they?
They are less palatable. I mean, when was the last time you ate kale, craved for more and so you drove to Walmart to get more of it?
Now that you understand the real mechanism by which fat-burning foods work, let’s see what really works. Hang on to your love handles, it might be painful to read.
4 Staples of Fat Loss
Like James Fell once said, getting in shape is hard. And slow. And hard. If it were as easy as those Internet pop-up ads promise, everyone would look like Brangelina from the neck down. If you need a dose of reality, shop at Walmart.
Losing weight (correctly) takes time.
It’s a daily grind and it all comes down to four staples that I have talked about many times before. But in case you missed them, here they are.
1. Being In a Calorie Deficit
Again, James Fell has said it better than I ever could:
You can tell me all about your invisible friend that you pray to, and I’m cool with that. I will be respectful. I won’t think you are delusional. But if you start denying calories in – calories out (CICO), I’ll tell you to get outta my face with that bullshit.
Because we’re talking about knowable vs. unknowable, and CICO is very knowable and has been proven to hell and back, which is why Gary Taubes needs to STFU.
If you are not currently suffering from a rectal-cranial inversion, then you know that CICO is all that matters to losing body fat.
If you don’t know how to find calorie intake to start losing fat, read this article.
2. Increasing Protein Intake
Why is that, you wondering?
Like I wrote in “How to Lose Weight in 40 Pages” book, the bulk of the evidence points to a higher thermic effect (TEF) of protein which is about 20-30% whereas carbohydrates are approximately 5-10%, and fats 0-3% (source).
This means that if you were to consume 1000 calories from protein, your body would burn 200-300 calories to metabolize it (50-100 calories for carbohydrates and 0-30 calories for fats).
Higher protein intake also improves lean body mass preservation while being in a calorie deficit. This might lead to better fat loss and less muscle loss (source). This, in turn, may help to maintain metabolic rate better.
3. Starting Strength Training
To me, strength training is A MUST. It’s non-negotiable. Exercise improves diet, which reinforces exercising, which improves diet, which… creates a virtuous cycle.
Here are some fun factoids why every online client of mine HAVE to exercise:
- Exercise increases your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure);
- Exercise inhibits the development of fat cell number (source);
- Exercise diminishes hunger, helps to fight food cravings and to change eating behaviors.
“OH MY GERSH Egis, I‘m a lady, I don‘t want to get bulky!” – Calm down, calm down!
A large segment of the dieting women has a mortal fear of getting “bulky”.
You won‘t get bulky. Period.
Women naturally have lower levels of muscle-building hormones like testosterone and growth hormone (~9 times less than men). That makes it very difficult for women to build a significant amount of muscle mass.
Unless you take anabolic steroids instead of your morning omelet…
4. Increasing NEAT levels
I’ve already touched on NEAT. You know what it is but you have no idea how crucial it is for fat loss!
NEAT decreases significantly in caloric restriction. Which is a bummer…
Unconsciously, you walk less, take an elevator instead of stairs, you choose to become a couch potato after work.
I touched on that in-depth in my book but NEAT can account for up to 800 kcal/day for some individuals! Maintaining an awareness of the potential impact of dieting on NEAT can go a long way toward effective fat loss.
According to this study (source), if overweight individuals adopted the NEAT-enhanced behaviors, they could expend an additional 350 kcal/day from these numerous small low-grade activities and movements.
350 kcal/day could become almost 2500 kcal/week! This alone would be enough to lose a good chunk of weight without even cutting on food intake.
Here are two ways to boost metabolism via NEAT:
1. Walk more
8,000-10,000 steps/day isn’t a bad shout. This translates to 300-500 additional calories.
- Go for a 30-minute morning/evening walk = 200-300kcal:
- Go for a 20-minute walk at lunch = 100-200kcal:
- Shoot for 8,000-10,000 steps/day.
2. Stand more
If you stood for 4 hours rather than sat during the day, that would translate to about 170 more calories a day and over the week that adds up to over 1000 calories more!
- Get a standing desk;
- Set an alarm to go off every hour, get up and walk to the toilet, coffee machine, etc;
- Stand in public transport;
- Shoot for 4 hours that you might otherwise be sat = 170kcal.
Sorry for shattering delusions towards fat-burning foods. They do help indirectly by decreasing calorie intake but they do shit to burn fat directly.
Losing fat comes from burning more calories than you consume. Anyone who can prove otherwise will surely win a Nobel Prize.
So instead of focusing on minor things, focus on creating a calorie deficit, bumping protein intake, exercising and keeping NEAT levels high (-er).
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