When you want to lose body fat you need to cut down on foods you know will add to the size of your gut rather than shrink it – so you eliminate alcohol, takeaways and sugar-packed snacks. But which foods should you be eating more of in order to shift belly fat faster? And why do certain foods help your body burn off its fat stores rather than add to them? All will be explained with our list of the very best fat-burning foods, so fill up your shopping basket and start eating smarter.
1. Onions contain chromium, an element that helps your body regulate blood-sugar levels so you don’t suffer energy slumps and reach for fattening sugary treats to fill the void. They are also high in quercetin, a type of flavonoid that can inhibit inflammation.
2. Spinach contains plenty of the essential mineral manganese for an effective metabolism that helps mobilise fat for energy. It also boasts lots of iron for healthy blood and calcium to repair and strengthen bone tissue. Unlike lots of other veg, we actually recommend boiling or steaming spinach because it helps free up unwanted acids, allowing them to leach into the water, and it also helps bring out a sweeter taste. Just make sure you boil for no more than a minute.
3. Sourdough bread. All right, carbs from bread might not be the best option to whittle down your beer belly. But if you’re a fiend for the dough – and, frankly, it’s hard to get through a day without encountering bread at some point – this variety is your best bet. It helps improve gut health that will aid digestion and reduce the amount of other foods you eat being stored as fat, and it’s full of air holes so you usually end up consuming less overall.
4. Cinnamon can help to blunt insulin response in the body, stopping you from storing fat, according to more than one study. Sprinkle it onto your morning coffee or porridge instead of sugar – fresh is best.
5. Apples contain antioxidant polyphenols, which help to prevent your body from storing fat, according to a German study. There’s also evidence that sharper varieties – like the Granny Smith – aid the production of “good” gut bacteria, helping to keep hunger in check.
6. Sweet potatoes are a low-GI food that helps you avoid fat-promoting spikes in blood sugar. Use them to make potato wedges: Whack them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, then cook for 25 minutes (or until they’re crispy).
7. Grapefruit has been found to lower insulin levels in your body. This decrease prevents your body from storing sugar as fat and helps dampen your appetite.
8. Green tea compounds in the tea-house favourite called catechins help speed up your metabolism. They do this by reducing your levels of the enzyme catechol-O-methyltranferase, which degrades the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine. Too much science? Don’t worry about it: just try to get two or three cups a day.
9. Yoghurt contains bacteria that may actually help reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs and stores. Go Greek – it has double the protein of other varieties – and swap it into recipes that usually call for sour cream.
10. Chilli peppers contain capsaicin, which helps protein structures in your body break down fat. Chop and chuck them into your morning eggs.