You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Eat Fat to Burn Fat‘? You may have even read an article about The Best Fat Burning Foods that you should be consuming? But does this actually work in the way that you think?
No, probably not.
Yes, there are foods that have a greater thermogenic effect (TEF) Thermic Effect of Food, meaning that your body must use energy to digest them, but the idea that you can eat foods that will accelerate fat loss and make you burn body fat is simply fictitious.
When you exercise, your metabolism will prioritise whichever fuel source is most readily available to the body. So if you eat lots of healthy fats in your diet, such as almonds, avocados, oily fish, olive oil and chia seeds etc. you will have a higher level of readily available fatty acids and these foods will then be broken down and used as fuel for energy.
This is great for long duration, low intensity activities such as cycling, swimming, walking or slow steady state running, as these activities will use fat as their main fuel source. However, if you were to eat a diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates then you would struggle with more intense bouts of exercise, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and more explosive based exercises.
The ONLY way that you can truly burn fat is by being in a caloric deficit. A consistent energy deficit, through considered nutrition and regular exercise will result in the reduction of excess body fat, regardless of whether you eat more fats or carbohydrates.
Eating more carbohydrates will however help you to train harder, more intensely and may even bring about greater physiological adaptations.
Whilst fat is hugely important in our diet, it is also important to understand that fat is more than twice the energy of carbohydrates and proteins at 9 calories per gram, meaning the more of it you eat, the lower the volume of food you can consume if you are to remain in a caloric deficit.
If fat loss is your goal, then don’t waste your time searching for the best so called ‘Fat Burning Foods’ or supplements that your money can buy. Focus your attention on eating the foods that best support your training, whilst being consistent at keeping your body in a sensible caloric deficit.
Keep active, stay strong
Neil & Mark