Top 5 Fat Burning Foods & SupplementsJuly 01, 2016 04:06 AM
Fat burns fat, It’s actually just that simple. The hard part is understanding which fats benefit us metabolically and which ones slow us down, causing inflammation and clogging up our arteries.
If you are reading this and for as long as you can remember, you’ve ran off carbs and sugar (glucose) for your main source of fuel, then it is also about learning how to become fat adapted. I don’t suggest you go cold turkey on carbs right away but instead slowly integrate good fats into your diet in replace of the carbs over time. That way you can start training the brain on this new source of energy instead of shocking it and running into digestive issues because you aren’t used to this form of fuel. This also doesn’t mean that you have to swear off carbs! Taking an omnivorous approach to food is basically standing behind the principle of balance, something we all need to have more of.
I want to help turn you into a superhuman that can use either source of fuel with the smallest risk and greatest reward. You must also listen to your body and intuitively decide what feels best for you. See, the brain can either use glucose from a simple sugar or complex carbohydrate, or a ketone which comes from fat, but its all about grooming your body to use both sources of energy as optimally as possible.
Here are my top 5 fat burning foods along with my 5 favorite fat burning supplements to turn you into a fat burning furnace!
MCT Oil - MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride and you can predominantly find it in coconut oil, or palm oil. These saturated fats, yes people “saturated fat,” don’t be scared, are sent straight to the liver to raise your metabolism and are burned as an optimal source of fuel. This fat actually has a hard time storing as fat which is why its one of my favorites. You will always burn it off and in the meantime feel fuller, longer. And it's in the liver that it has such a thermogenic effect and the ability to positively alter your metabolism.
MCT oil is also loaded with Caprylic Acid which has been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits. It fights Candida in the gut and helps the reproductive organs function properly like the bladder and urethra. When your gut is happy and you aren’t inflaming it on a regular basis, your one step closer to creating that lean physique.
If you really want to upgrade then try Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil, which is 18 times the strength of coconut oil and 3 times greater than MCT oil. MCTs range from a 6-10 carbon chain fatty acid, and the Brain Octane Oil utilizes mostly the 8 carbon chain to rapidly metabolize as instant energy in the brain and body. Bulletproof recently did a study to show that Brain Octane has the ability to drop you into ketosis 4 times greater than any other food. Ketosis is a funny word that basically means your “fat burning state,” this is when your body is operating as a fat burning furnace.
Grass Fed Butter or Ghee - Butter?! Yes. Butter. Fat burns fat remember? And hormonally the best fat burning fats come from saturated fats. Grass fed butter is loaded with CLAs (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which are amazing for improving insulin resistance, reducing inflammation and refining your body composition. When combined with the proper exercise CLAs have been shown to reduce body fat while preserving lean muscle mass.
If you are sensitive to dairy I suggest seeing how you do with a quality grass fed ghee. Ghee is clarified butter, free of lactose, casein and salt. Grass fed ghee and butter are heavy in Vitamin A which is hard to get, especially in a vegan diet, so if you feel like you are deficient you might want to jump on the ghee bandwagon. Signs would include impaired vision, night blindness, dry eyes and skin. If you are vegan and decide to switch over to just get a little ghee in your diet...I won’t judge you, but rather applaud you. Ghee and butter are also rich in fat soluble vitamins D, E, K2, Lauric acid and cholesterol.
Cholesterol is the number one building block for all your steroidal hormones, including all the sex and adrenal hormones. Without adequate amounts of cholesterol in your diet, you are going to have some metabolic and hormonal problems. Your hormones massively influence your body composition, weight distribution, and can basically be the cornerstone of whether you are in charge of how lean you can be, or your hormones can take over and decide how much fat they want to pack on. Bringing your hormones back into homeostasis is the biggest step in gaining control back over your body. I will be getting more into hormone balance in an article to come but just know that your body is incapable of making hormones without adequate amounts of fat, and in particular, fats with cholesterol.
Avocado - Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is the other optimal fat to keep in your diet along with saturated. Now this fat is prized for satiating your hunger hormone leptin, which will keep you fuller longer and keep you from snacking throughout the day. Avocados are great in helping you balance your blood sugar levels, and will help you ween off a high carb diet if your goal is to lean out. Avocados are also dense in fiber, potassium (twice the amount of a banana) and the amino acid L-Carnitine, which is responsible for carrying the fat in our cells to the mitochondria to be burned for energy. When you have more L-Carnitine in your diet you will groom yourself into being more of a fat burning machine.
Resistant Starches - My favorite resistant starch are Tiger Nuts or Tiger Nut flour, which I use in some of my baking recipes. They aren’t actually nuts but a tuber. There are tons of benefits to eating Tiger Nuts, but the biggest one is that it's 40% resistant starch. Resistant starches are the new trendy food in the health community. "Resistant starch has the potential to become the next hot nutrition trend," says Leslie Bonci, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association's Guide to Better Digestion. It gets its name because it “resists” normal digestion, which keeps your body from secreting insulin. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic - the food that your probiotic bacteria live off of, increasing your good gut bacteria which has a whole other list of health benefits. Resistant starch increases your bodies ability to burn fat and fills you up to reduce overall hunger. Rich in phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and C.
Unlike some types of fiber, resistant starch gets fermented when it reaches the large intestine. This process creates beneficial fatty acids, including one called butyrate, which may block the body's ability to burn carbohydrates. "This can prevent the liver from using carbs as fuel and, instead, stored body fat and recently consumed fat are burned," explains Janine Higgins, PhD, nutrition research director for the University of Colorado's Adult and Pediatric General Clinical Research Center. In your body, carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel, like gasoline that powers your car's engine. Butyrate essentially prevents some of the gas from getting into the tank, and your cells turn to fat as an alternative. One study found that replacing just 5.4% of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch created a 20% to 30% increase in fat burning after a meal.
Collagen Protein - Specifically collagen protein from grass fed cows. Collagen is important in processing fat, and with more collagen in the body, the better you are able to use stored fat. Collagen weight loss products contain collagen along with other natural ingredients that can enhance the body's restorative and rebuilding processes. This allows your body to have more energy to build more lean muscle while burning more fat. Many of them contain amino acids, which help enhance your body's regeneration and fat burning process. This is because collagen is rich in the amino acid glycine which stimulates fat burning and reduces appetite. It triggers the release of glucagon, a hormone that turns on fat burning in the liver, and generates pyruvate, a substance involved in energy production that enhances endurance and fat burning. I throw a couple tablespoons of “Bulleproof Collagen” in my coffee in the morning to get my protein, and I am using it throughout the day in smoothies, or before bed in a nightcap protein shake. Collagen is a 7 times predigested protein so its very easy to assimilate. You can even just stir it up in water and it pretty much disappears!
L-Carnitine - One of my main go-to’s for fat burning is to incorporate L-Carnitine into my regiment a couple times a day, usually a serving in the morning before my workout and another with my lunch. L-carnitine plays an important role in our metabolism, performance and overall health and well being. It has a special ability to transport long chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides into the mitochondria (the furnace of the cell), where they may be oxidized to produce energy. In other words, L-Carnitine delivers fat more efficiently into our cells to be burned off, rather than stored. And it will not only keep your body from storing fat, but also increase your aerobic capacity to help you burn more calories in general. When you elevate the amount of L-Carnitine in your body you will not only increase your fat burning potential but also spare your glycogen, clear muscle lactate, and optimize your hormone levels, which is huge for overall body composition as I mentioned before.
Charles Poliquin of The Poliquin Principles, believes that pairing up L-Carnitine with a good omega-3 fish oil will make you get the most out of L-Carnitine's benefits. Why? “If the cell lipid layers are made up of omega-3 fats, it will make them more sensitive to insulin. Having your cells more sensitive to insulin allows your body to get the most energy production out of Carnitine.” Poliquin also mentions how L-Carnitine plays a huge role in helping control visceral body fat, which is specifically gained in the low belly, and is the toughest fat to burn off. “Raising your Carnitine levels will fight this visceral fat gain because it increases fat burning, which has the effect of taking triglycerides and low density lipoproteins out of the system so they don't build up causing high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.” The list of benefits carries way beyond fat burning for this super essential amino acid. L-carnitine also improves overall performance and endurance, work capacity, enhances recovery, improves insulin health and your skin. Acetyl L-Carnitine can help improve cognitive function with its powerful antioxidant properties that help reduce build up of heavy metals in the brain, all while boosting your motivation and overall mood.
Green Tea (High in EGCG) - Green tea has been revered as a powerhouse for our overall metabolism for what seems like forever. It has impressive nutritional value beyond its fat burning effects, and as long as you are taking a high quality source and aren’t taking it right before bed, unless you plan on dancing all night, I don’t see any ill side effects to be cautious about. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which are antioxidants that will reduce free radicals in the body, and protect our cells from damage. Otherwise, this damage will result in a puffy, inflamed and aged look...basically the opposite of what we are shooting for in a lean, glowing, healthy physique. Green tea contains a very powerful antioxidant called Epigallocatechin Gallate, or just never try to say that and use the acronym EGCG, when referring to the antioxidant property that combats disease and increases human health ten fold.
Green tea contains a little bit of caffeine, just enough to increase your metabolic output, but what makes it special is that it also contains the amino acid l-theanine, which crosses the blood brain barrier and increases the activity of GABA, having anti-anxiety effects. Now you have antioxidants controlling inflammation and puffiness, caffeine to speed up metabolism, and l-theanine to reduce stress, which will make for an overall improvement in body composition. Of course, Its also very important to stick to a clean diet with good quality fats, and to make sure we are using all the energy in a healthy way with consistent exercise and strength training. In a controlled study, men performed a 30 min cycling exercise with and without supplementation of green tea, and the average fat oxidation rates were 17% higher when they supplemented, showing there is some proof to the pudding that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.
Rhodiola - Rhodiola Rosea is a primary herb in my arsenal and it grows at the high altitudes of Asia and Eastern Europe. Its a very adaptogenic herb that the Vikings used to enhance their physical strength and endurance. Its becoming more and more known in the athletic world because of its ability to increase athletic performance, physically and mentally. It acts as a catalyst to drive more oxygen upwards to our brains and thus enhances cognitive function.
Rhodiola is among my favorite fat burners because of its ability to burn stored fat as fuel. Rhodiola contains an active compound called Rosavin that stimulates an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase, which has the ability to break down fat stored in the belly region. This adipose tissue will break down even more with the combination of moderate exercise, so make sure you are on your workout grind to enhance the effects.
Another important way rhodiola helps you achieve that ideal body composition is through lowering your overall cortisol output. When cortisol levels stay high for too long your body goes into a “fight or flight” survival response. This is when your body will hold onto body fat, inflammation will increase, you can experience thyroid issues, and hormone imbalances will occur. Rhodiola combats all of this by helping you adapt to everyday stressors and keeping you more balanced.
The many pros of rhodiola rosea make it a staple in my herb cabinet and I highly suggest you throw it in your daily routine as well!
Taurine - Taurine is an amino acid that is amazing for anxiety control and stress management, as it also helps to lower cortisol levels. I like to open a cap of taurine into my pre-workout drink to help increase my athletic performance, keep my cortisol controlled during my workout, and fight inflammation as I break down my body. Taurine calms the nervous system by helping to raise GABA levels so that you can manage stress better. Managing stress is a key component to achieving the ideal body composition because like I said before, you want to avoid “fight or flight” so that your body doesn’t hold onto what you are aiming to burn off. It’s a little dance between working out hard enough to boost your metabolism, but being in enough control so that the body can feel safe to release what it doesn’t need. High cortisol levels usually correlate with an increase in body fat, so lets keep those levels down.
Natural sources of taurine include: seafood, meat, milk and eggs; therefore, vegans tend to be chronically deficient which may lead to chronic anxiety. If you are vegan, it may serve you to try taurine as a supplement to see if it improves your stress response.
As I stated earlier, carnitine is responsible for the delivery of fats into the cells to be used for energy, but in order for this process to be supported you must also have adequate amounts of taurine. Taurine works in the initial phases of this transportation, while carnitine works at the backend of this fat metabolism. Think of the two amino acids as partners in a relationship of optimal fat burning.
Taurine also does a great deal of work when the body is at rest. In a study in the journal “Amino Acids’” they found that by raising taurine levels, fat burning increased at rest by activating pathways that play a role in insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal by 70%.
Taurine is also praised for being a great antioxidant, inflammation reducer, and recovery enhancer.
Unclog your Liver - To properly burn fat its first necessary to get the right nutrients to help liver stagnation. I couldn’t pick a favorite because they all work well and in some cases in synergy with one another. These nutrients, otherwise known as Lipotropics, help fat flow out of your liver, are involved in fat metabolism, and will also support the liver detoxification process. When your liver and gallbladder are happy and operating efficiently, its much easier to efficiently use good fats for energy, turning your body into a fat burning machine. One way to increase fat flow in the liver is by protecting the liver, and fat soluble antioxidants such as vitamin D, lipoic acid, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and milk thistle are amazing nutrients for this purpose.
B vitamins, Choline and Inositol, play a huge role in fat clearing and toxin-processing in liver metabolism as well as one of my favorites, vit B5 or pantethine, which has been shown to clear out fatty liver and lower triglycerides. A staple in my everyday life for inflammation is turmeric, but it also has been shown to help fatty liver problems. In my top 10 picks for The Chalkboard Mag, I wrote about a product by Health Force called Liver Rescue, which if you are looking for one great product that encompasses this entire idea of unclogging the liver, that would be a favorite.