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Coffee is a Great Fat Burner (+ 6 More Favorites to Burn Fat)

I’ve long maintained that coffee is healthy.  I’ve even joked that it should be its own food group. 

Fortunately, plenty of research verifies my love of this popular beverage. The polyphenols in coffee provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that can support healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and more. (1)

Coffee is also a great fat burner, although many studies focus on the thermogenic or fat-burning benefits of caffeine. 

One review of 13 randomized controlled trials concluded that caffeine intake could support fat loss (2). Another study found that people who maintain fat loss drink more coffee (and other caffeinated beverages), supporting the idea that coffee might support weight loss maintenance (3).

Coffee is a dose-dependent food. In small amounts – I’m talking 1 or 2 cups a day – the caffeine can favorably nudge fat burning. Too much, on the other hand, can raise stress hormones that put the brakes on fat loss. 

So enjoy that cup of organic dark roast, but step away from bottomless refills!

6 More Fat-Burning Faves

Any food on The Virgin Diet is a great fat burner. When you eat by the Plate, you’re setting the stage for fast, lasting fat loss and loads of other benefits. 

That said, some foods and beverages carry impressive research for hitting the accelerate button on fat loss. When you’re ready to step things up, these 6 fat-crushing favorites will get you to the fat-loss results you want quickly.

  1. Green tea. The active component in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), can help you burn fat. In one study, researchers found that women who were obese and used high-dose green tea extract had significant weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and an improved lipid profile(4). That’s why I add green tea extract to Metabolic Reset.  I love drinking iced or hot green tea throughout the day, too. 
  2. Raspberries. Any kind of berry is a fat-burning A-lister. So, why raspberries? Because they are among the highest fiber-containing fruits(5). I’ve long called fiber my secret weapon to curb hunger and appetite. Research shows that dietary fiber intake promotes weight loss and helps people better adhere to their diet (6).  
  3. Flax seeds. These tiny seeds pack a powerful punch. Flaxseeds are one of the richest sources of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which fights the chronic inflammation that can stall fat loss (7). Flaxseeds are also a great source of nutrients and dietary fiber to crush cravings. Buy whole flaxseeds, grind them fresh, and sprinkle them in shakes or anywhere else you can enjoy their nutty flavor. 
  4. Avocado. One of my favorite fruits, avocado, is high in monounsaturated fat, the same healthy fat in extra-virgin olive oil. Studies show monounsaturated fat may increase fat burning compared to other types of fat(8). Avocados are also high in dietary fiber and important nutrients including folate and vitamin K(9).
  5. Spinach. Honestly, I could have chosen any non-starchy leafy vegetable here. So why spinach? Because it’s so darn versatile, for one, whether you add it in shakes, salads, or sauteed with garlic and olive oil. One study found that people who ate the largest spinach portions increased satiety and lowered their post-meal glucose response(10).
  6. Coconut. Coconut contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fatty acid that stimulates metabolism to promote weight loss. One review found that replacing long-chain fats with MCTs could support fat loss(11). For an added boost, try a little bit of coconut oil or MCTs in your pre-workout coffee.

 

Protein shakes are my number one go-to for fat burning. I start every day drinking one. For fast, lasting fat loss, I want you to start the day drinking one, too. 

 

Many of my favorite fat burners I’ve mentioned here fit perfectly in a protein shake. One of my favorites is the Stress-Busting Chocolate Berry Smoothie (recipe below). Melt stress and burn fat with every sip!

 

Stress-Busting Chocolate Berry Smoothie

 

Ingredients

2 scoops Chocolate Paleo-Inspired All-In-One Protein Shake powder 

10 oz. unsweetened almond milk

1/2 small avocado, peeled and pitted

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup fresh baby spinach

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 1/2 tsp chia seeds

1 1/2 tsp freshly ground flaxseed

Directions

  1. Blend the ingredients together until smooth, ramping up the blender speed slowly to keep it creamy.
  2. Your shake can be thickened by adding ice cubes or thinned by adding cold water. Bye-bye, stress!

 

Footnotes

 1) Yamagata K. Do Coffee Polyphenols Have a Preventive Action on Metabolic Syndrome Associated Endothelial Dysfunctions? An Assessment of the Current Evidence. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018 Feb 4;7(2):26. doi: 10.3390/antiox7020026. PMID: 29401716; PMCID: PMC5836016.

2) Tabrizi R, Saneei P, Lankarani KB, Akbari M, Kolahdooz F, Esmaillzadeh A, Nadi-Ravandi S, Mazoochi M, Asemi Z. The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(16):2688-2696. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1507996. Epub 2018 Oct 18. PMID: 30335479.

3) Icken D, Feller S, Engeli S, Mayr A, Müller A, Hilbert A, de Zwaan M. Caffeine intake is related to successful weight loss maintenance. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;70(4):532-4. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.183. Epub 2015 Nov 11. PMID: 26554757.

4) Chen IJ, Liu CY, Chiu JP, Hsu CH. Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2016 Jun;35(3):592-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.003. Epub 2015 May 29. PMID: 26093535.

5) Zhang X, Ahuja JKC, Burton-Freeman BM. Characterization of the nutrient profile of processed red raspberries for use in nutrition labeling and promoting healthy food choices. Nutr Healthy Aging. 2019 Dec 19;5(3):225-236. doi: 10.3233/NHA-190072. PMID: 31984247; PMCID: PMC6974958.

6) Miketinas DC, Bray GA, Beyl RA, Ryan DH, Sacks FM, Champagne CM. Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. J Nutr. 2019 Oct 1;149(10):1742-1748. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz117. PMID: 31174214; PMCID: PMC6768815.

7) Rodriguez-Leyva D, Dupasquier CM, McCullough R, Pierce GN. The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Can J Cardiol. 2010 Nov;26(9):489-96. doi: 10.1016/s0828-282x(10)70455-4. PMID: 21076723; PMCID: PMC2989356.

8) Soares MJ, Piers LS, Walker KZ, O'Dea K. Is there a role for monounsaturated fat in the dietary management of obesity? Asia Pac J Public Health. 2003;15 Suppl:S18-21. doi: 10.1177/101053950301500S06. PMID: 18924536.

9) Ford NA, Liu AG. The Forgotten Fruit: A Case for Consuming Avocado Within the Traditional Mediterranean Diet. Front Nutr. 2020 May 29;7:78. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.00078. PMID: 32548125; PMCID: PMC7272688.

10) Gustafsson K, Asp NG, Hagander B, Nyman M. Satiety effects of spinach in mixed meals: comparison with other vegetables. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 1995 Nov;46(4):327-34. doi: 10.3109/09637489509012564. PMID: 8574859.

11) Mumme K, Stonehouse W. Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Feb;115(2):249-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.10.022. PMID: 25636220.

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