There seems to be an abundance of websites, diet plans, fitness programs and diet pills that promise weight loss, but not many of these options can guarantee fat loss. Some fad diets and unhealthy diet programs can actually cause the body to lose muscle instead of fat due to the limited caloric intake coupled with too much exercise. Fat loss is something anyone can achieve and there is no diet necessary to do it. In order to burn fat and lean out, all that is necessary is a healthy, balanced diet that includes the right foods in the right combinations. Before we delve into some healthy meal plans designed to turn the body into a fat burning machine, we need to discuss the many ways that food has the capability to help you burn fat.
How to Eat to Burn Fat
In order to eat and burn fat, you will need to adjust your eating habits somewhat. First you will need to eat frequently and incorporate five meals per day. You will then need to limit carbohydrate intake and increase the amount of water you drink daily. After establishing your meals and planning your water consumption, it will be necessary to choose foods that contain plenty of fiber or add fiber to foods that you are currently eating.
Eat Five Times per Day
It is customary for most Americans to eat three large meals per day and add a couple snacks in between. Usually, the heaviest meal of the day tends to be dinner. This hampers fat loss because dinner is the last meal of the day and most tend to go to sleep a few hours, if not sooner, after dinner. Ideally, it is wise to make lunch the biggest meal of the day. This is the meal that needs to sustain you through the rest of your workday and through busy afternoons.
In order to burn fat, you will need to eat five meals per day instead. The five meals will consist of three smaller main meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with two snacks mixed in between. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should be well balanced with plenty of protein, fiber and a small amount of healthy carbohydrates to help sustain you until your snack between breakfast and lunch. Your meals should be between 350 and 450 calories each and each of your snacks should consist of approximately 200 calories. Some examples of meals and snacks are provided below.
Drink Plenty of Water
Many refer to water as the number one fat burner on the planet. The kidneys need water to process your body’s food intake and eliminate toxins. The kidneys also work in conjunction with the liver, whose main purpose is to properly process and burn fat. With plenty of water, the kidneys function at an optimal rate, especially when consuming more protein than carbohydrates on a diet specifically designed to help you burn fat. If you do not consume enough water, your liver will have to jump in and help the kidneys out, hence minimizing their efforts in processing and burning your body’s fat. So, by drinking more water, you are helping your body process your food intake and burn fat at an optimal rate. One other benefit to drinking water is that it helps fill you up prior to consuming your meals. Try drinking one to two glasses of water before each meal and you will notice that you will consume less food and feel full faster.
Cut the Carbs
Cutting carbohydrates down does not have to mean eliminating them all together. Carbohydrates are a necessary source of energy for the body, but it is important to choose the right types of carbohydrates for fat burning purposes. In addition, most Americans tend to make carbohydrates 60-70% of their daily caloric intake. When carbohydrates are consumed in excess and not burned, through exercise, they turn into fat and are stored by the body. In order to burn fat, you will need to minimize your carbohydrate intake and make them no more than 10-20% of your daily caloric consumption. Lean protein, vegetables and low glycemic fruits should be the main source of your calories with healthy grains added in for fiber as well. If you are familiar with ketogenic diets or diets such as the Atkins, you may wonder why they allow such a high fat and protein intake but minimize carbohydrates to no more than 50 grams per day. The reason is that, if the body does not get enough carbohydrates to use for energy, it resorts to its secondary source for energy, fat. Once this occurs, the body is in a state of ketosis and it begins using its fat stores for energy instead of the food that you are consuming. So, if serious fat loss is your main goal, you can go a step further and cut your carbohydrate intake to put the body into a fat burning, ketosis state. This will help burn fat at an increased rate, along with helping you shed between 1 to 3 pounds per week.
Fill Up on Fiber
Although you are limiting carbohydrates, you do not have to eliminate all fruits and grains unless you want a strict approach to fat loss such as with the ketogenic or Atkins diet. In order to get the right carbohydrates, you will just have to choose foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber. These foods are considered low glycemic foods and have a minimal effect on the body’s blood sugar levels. They prevent fat storage and the fiber content in them also helps keep you full longer. Some examples of high fiber, low glycemic foods include nuts, barley, Ezekiel bread, bran, oatmeal, apples, beans, cabbage, oranges, prunes and peas.
Fat Burning Meal Choices
Below are some choices for each meal of the day and snacks as well. Use these meals and combine them according to your tastes and lifestyle to create your ideal fat burning meal plan.
Greek Yogurt with a Hard Boiled Egg, an apple and almonds
½ Grapefruit, Fiber One or Flax-O-Meal cereal w/ almond milk and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
3 egg white omelet with spinach, feta cheese, mushrooms and turkey bacon
½ cup of cottage cheese with handful of raspberries and Ezekiel bread toast
Protein shake (whey isolate or egg protein) blended with water, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt, ice and berries
Grilled chicken salad with romaine, tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers. Vinegar and olive oil for dressing.
Albacore tuna salad with mustard, relish, celery and seasoning in a whole grain pita.
Beef Kabob with a Greek salad, roasted tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of humus and half a pita
Sashimi salad (tuna, salmon, yellow tail, etc) including romaine lettuce, slivered carrots and low cal sesame dressing
Cobb salad with one egg, turkey bacon, low fat cheese, ¼ avocado, 3 ounces of grilled chicken on a bed or romaine
Grilled tilapia filet seasoned with dry rub. A side of grilled broccoli, sweet potato, squash and cauliflower.
Protein burger made out of lean sirloin beef topped with tomato, onion, cheese and mustard wrapped in lettuce
Grilled whole chicken breast seasoned with lemon and Mrs. Dash served with grilled asparagus and broccoli
Zucchini lasagna made with cooked zucchini strips instead of lasagna pasta strips
Lean sirloin steak served with cauliflower mashed potatoes and a green salad dressed in oil and vinegar
Almonds (one ounce)
Edamame (1/2 cup)
½ an apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
Celery sticks and hummus
Protein shake made with water, yogurt and almond milk
Any low carb protein bar under 200 calories
Greek yogurt with whole berries
2 hard boiled eggs
½ cup of cottage cheese with slices of tomato
All of the foods above can be combined to create a meal plan for each day of the week. If followed correctly, it can lead, not only to weight loss, but increased fat loss as well. The body responds to a dietary change within a few days, and after two to three days of eating a fat burning meal plan, you should feel less water retention, bloating and your clothes fitting a little loser. For women, it is suggested to keep the calories at about 1,400 to 1,600 per day and for men it is recommended to stay between 1,900 and 2,400. Of course, these numbers depend on an individual’s activity level. They are based on a lightly active individual that exercises lightly for one to three days per week. If you exercise more than that, you would be at the high end of the calorie range. If you are sedentary and do not exercise at all, you would be at the lower end.