Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked a lot about what it takes to become a stronger version of yourself. Exercises, consistency, posture… But what about food? In this article, I’m going to discuss a few of the best foods you can eat if you want to lose some of that excess belly fat.
So… How do these foods make you lose fat? Well, they don’t really. However, the foods that I’m going to discuss will increase your base metabolic rate (BMR), as well as promote fat loss.
Keep in mind that simply consuming these foods will do nothing in regard to your fat levels. You will need to exercise in order to see results!
The Black Gold: Coffee
Let’s start things off with one of my most favorite things to drink: coffee. That’s right, coffee can help you lose fat, so go grab yourself another cup!
In all seriousness though, caffeine is a stimulating compound that is found in coffee. It enhances your mood and it can improve physical and mental performance. Not only that, but research has shown that consuming coffee about 30-60 minutes before exercising results in a 10% increase of burnt fat!
It does so by stimulating the central nervous system in a way that increases the adrenaline levels in your blood. Adrenaline stimulates lipases, which are enzymes that metabolize fatty acids.
Now that your fat cells are breaking down, it doesn’t actually mean that fat itself is literally evaporating from your body. In order to really burn the fat, you must reach a negative energy balance, i.e. eating less than your base metabolic rate and/or working out. Caffeine increases your base metabolic rate by up to 11%.
It is however still up to you to make sure you achieve this negative energy balance!
All in all: coffee is a wonderful product. Not only does it make you alert and ready to act, but it’s also a great source of caffeine that can help you break down fat. Keep in mind though, that taking too much coffee might lead to insomnia, and we don’t want any of that. Another thing to note, is that there is no direct proof that coffee helps to burn fat in the long term, because of caffeine tolerance.
I myself am a long time fan of Illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee. The taste is fantastic and to top it off: it’s fairly cheap. Should you be interested in making a purchase, you can click here.
Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Yet another one of my favorites. I eat more than 1 lbs of it every morning: full-fat Greek yogurt. This is one of my main sources of protein. It contains around 8-12% protein, depending on the brand you choose.
Studies have shown that high-protein dairy products boost fat loss. They will also protect muscle tissue when you’re actively losing fat. This way, you won’t break down muscle. The best part to me is that it makes you feel full for at least a few hours.
You can also choose to eat skimmed yogurt, but there’s something about skimmed products that I think you should know. Sure, skimmed products contain close to no fat. So what does that mean. Does said product consist purely of protein? If that were the case, it’d taste like cardboard and nobody would buy it.
In order to make it more appealing, companies tend to add either sugars or other artificial sweeteners. I’m not a big fan of either of those, so that’s why I choose to eat the full-fat product.
Another thing to take away, is that fats in food are NOT the enemy. Fats are actually very useful! The male body for example, uses fats to build testosterone. What does testosterone do? Well I’m sure you know that it stimulates hair- and muscle growth, but it also ensures that you burn fat in your REM-sleep.
I told you sleep was important.
Back to the foods, though! Full-fat yogurt contains a lot of protein and it inhibits the hunger feeling. This is perfect for losing fat!
Fish – Cortisol Begone!
Another fantastic food to eat, is fish. I’m talking salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel and so forth. All of these contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown to reduce the risk of heart diseases and inflammations.
Oh, and it helps you lose fat.
How? Well, omega-3 fatty acids make your cortisol levels drop. What is cortisol, you ask? Well, it’s commonly known as the stress hormone. It’s produced by the adrenal bark and it’s made from cholesterol. When you’re stressed, cortisol is released and breaks down proteins that are stored in your muscles, in order to make glucose. This glucose can then be used to ‘fight or flight’. The problem though, is that this glucose often doesn’t get utilized, and thus gets stored as fats.
As a side note: adrenaline is also used in ‘fight or flight’ situations. The difference with cortisol though, is that adrenaline gives a quick burst of energy, whereas cortisol keeps you alert for longer periods of time.
In other words: cortisol basically breaks down muscle.
You want these cortisol levels to be low. Not just because it breaks down your muscles, but also because it can cause problems that include:
- Chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes
- Impaired brain function
Eating fish on a regular base will keep the cortisol levels low and thus preserves your muscle tissues. Because of this, the amount of glucose in your body won’t increase when you don’t actually need it. As a result, less fat is produced and stored.
Eggs – Low in Calories, High in Nutrients
Eggs are another fantastic food that help you reduce your fat levels. They’re chock-full of nutrients. Not only are eggs a great source of high quality protein, but it also reduces hunger feelings by promoting feelings of fullness for hours on end.
Not having hunger feelings logically results in a decrease in food intake, and a negative energy balance is easier to acquire this way. Not only that, but the essential amino-acids that eggs contain will speed up your metabolism, i.e. increase your base metabolic rate.
It might also be good to note that the amount of calories per egg is not that much when you compare it to the amount of nutrients. A regular egg contains around 80 calories on average.
I personally eat an egg every day. It’s cheap, it’s filled to the brim with nutrients and it’s easy to prepare.
Whey Protein – Preserve Your Muscles
This food has a special place in my heart. Whey protein has shown to promote muscle growth, as well as the preservation of said muscle tissue. It is also more effective in suppressing hunger feelings than other sources of protein. Therefore, it’s an ideal food to add to the list.
Now, I live in Europe, and in my country it’s pretty normal that we drink a lot of milk. Having said that, I personally like to make my whey protein shakes with milk, mostly because of the taste. I take 2-3 protein shakes per day in order to meet my daily protein intake goals.
It’s absolutely ideal as a quick meal or snack. You just put your powder in a shaker, you add some milk or water and a minute later you’re full to the brim.
While some people see whey protein as a supplement, rather than a food, I tend to disagree. Sure, there are some whey protein powders that consist of only protein and little else. I mostly skip over those. The whey protein product that I use not only contains a lot of protein, but it also contains a lot of micro nutrients such as amino-acids.
I would personally recommend everyone that’s either building muscle or losing fat to consume 2-3 whey protein shakes per day.
When it comes to fat loss, I’m no big fan of wondrous pills that claim to lose the fat for you. It all comes down to what you choose to ingest on a daily base. If you’re actively trying to lose some fat tissue and you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend implementing some, if not all the aforementioned foods into your food routine.
I keep telling people that it takes patience before you really start noticing your progress. It’s worth it though, so keep at it! Exercise is one thing, but nutrition is just as important. I hope I’ve helped some of you out with the presentation of some foods that help you on your quest to lose fat.
The main thing to take away from this I think, is that a high protein intake diminishes your hunger feeling and preserves your muscles. To increase your protein intake, I highly recommend adding whey protein to your daily routine. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s effective.
Let me know in the comments whether you want to see more articles about the science of nutrition and how it can help you to achieve your goals!