Foods That Burn Calories - The Top 10 Lists

By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

Anytime the topic of turns to my own personal grocery shopping list, on my website, blog or articles, there is always a spike in interest.

Seems like many people are not only curious about what foods a natural bodybuilder eats to maintain a single-digit body fat percentage, but they also want to be taken by the hand and told what foods to eat while on fat-burning or muscle building programs.

In response to this interest, I decided to put together four separate TOP 10 lists of healthy foods that burn calories (by this I mean FAT) and build muscle.

foods that burn calories,

I will not list exact quantities, just the individual foods. I try to get as many different varieties of fruits and vegetables as possible during the course of each week as I can. of course, I must note that there are a lot of substitutions for each item on the list, so you're not seeing the full list of everything I eat, only the foods I eat most of the time.

I'd also like to point out that while I don’t believe that going extremely low on carbs is necessary or most effective when you look at the long term, research has shown that there are some definite advantages to a low-to-moderate carb intake and higher protein diet for fat loss purposes. These include reduced appetite, higher thermic effect of food within the body and "automatic" calorie control.

Personally, I reduce my carb intake moderately and temporarily prior to each of my bodybuilding competitions. More specifically, it’s the foods that are on the starchy carbs and grains list that I take during pre-competition periods when I’m working on my "ripped" look. However, I keep the green and fibrous veggie intake very high, along with large amounts of lean protein, small(er) amounts of fruit, and adequate amounts of essential (good) fats.

This list is a reflection of my personal preferences, so this is not a prescription to all readers to eat the same. It’s very to choose foods you enjoy and to have the option to eat a wide variety of foods. During the course of the past several years, nutrition and obesity research - in studying ALL types of diets - has consistently concluded that almost any hypocaloric diet that's not completely "moronic" can work - at least in the short term.

It’s not as much about the "high carb - low carb" argument or any other debate as much as it's about calorie control. The trouble is that restrictive diets and maintaning a calorie deficit is difficult. Hence, most people can’t stick with any program and they fall off the proverbial wagon, whichever wagon that might be!

I believe that much of our attention needs to shift from pointless debates (such as, low carb vs. high carb). This is getting old… so like… get over it everyone! It's the calorie deficit that makes you lose weight and not the amount of carbs.

Foods That Burn Calories - Things to Focus On

  • How can we devise an eating program that we can enjoy AND help us get leaner and healthier?
  • How can we build an eating program that allows us control our calorie intake?
  • How can we build an eating plan that improves compliance?

Here’s one answer: Eat a wide variety of high-nutrien, low -calorie density foods that you enjoy AND which still fit within healthy, fat-burning and muscle-building guidelines!

Here are the lists of foods I eat when trying to achieve the above mentioned three outcomes. This is an eating plan that is not difficult to stick with at all. I enjoy eating these foods and it feels almost weird for me not to eat like because I've been eating like this for so long.

Remember, habits go both ways! As motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said: "Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with and good habits are hard to form but easy to live with".

These are listed in the order I most frequently consume them. Thus, for example, if oatmeal is listed on top of the list, it means that it's the food I am most likely to eat every single day.

Foods That Burn Calories - My 10 Top Natural Starchy Carb & Whole Grains List

  1. Oatmeal (old-fashioned)
  2. Yams
  3. Brown rice
  4. Sweet potatoes (almost the same as yams)
  5. Multi-grain hot cereal (mix or barley, oats, rye and a few others)
  6. White potatoes
  7. 100% whole-wheat bread
  8. 100% whole-wheat pasta
  9. Beans
  10. Cream of rice hot cereal

Foods That Burn Calories - My Top 10 Top Vegetables List

  1. Broccoli
  2. Asparagus
  3. Spinach
  4. Salad greens
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Peppers (green, red or yellow)
  7. Onions
  8. Mushrooms
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Zucchini

Foods That Burn Calories - My Top 10 Lean Proteins List

  1. Egg whites (whole eggs)
  2. Whey or Casein protein (protein powder supplements)
  3. Chicken Breast
  4. Salmon
  5. Turkey Breast
  6. Top round steak (grass fed)
  7. Flank Steak (grass fed)
  8. Lean Ground Turkey
  9. Bison/Buffalo
  10. Trout

Foods That Burn Calories - My Top 10 Fruits List

  1. Grapefruit
  2. Apples
  3. Blueberries
  4. Canteloupe
  5. Oranges
  6. Bananas
  7. Peaches
  8. Grapes
  9. Strawberries
  10. Pineapple
Note: I also DO include healthy fats in the form of walnuts, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, (the supplement - not the cooking kind), avocado and a few others.

Also, I do eat some dairy products since I am not lactose intolerant. I simply don’t eat as much dairy foods as the rest of the foods on my lists. When I eat dairy it's mostly skim milk, low or non-fat cottage cheese, low or non-fat yogurt and low or non-fat cheese.

Last but not least, my compliance rate is about 95%, which means I take two or three "cheat" meals per week of whatever I want (pizza, big fatty restaurant steaks, sushi, etc.)

I hope you found this foods that burn calories list helpful and interesting. Keep in mind, this is MY food list, and although you probably couldn’t go wrong to copy it, you should choose natural foods that you can enjoy eating in order to develop habits you can stick with over the long(er) term.

In the fruits and vegetables categories alone, there are tons of other choices - so enjoy them all!


foods that burn calories,

foods that burn calories,

About the Author

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a certified personal trainer (CPT).

Tom is the author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle", which teaches men and women how to get lean without drugs or supplements using methods of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models.

Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting www.burnthefat.com

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