Fat burning Foods

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

There are two sets of hormones – hormones that trigger fat burning and others that trigger fat storing.

This principle really comes into play as we age because when we’re young you have a metabolism and can pretty much get away with anything but when we age, you have to consider the hormones. We want to go away from the calorie counting and focus more on fat-burning foods and hormonal effects.

Key Points

1. Protein

Eat the right amount of protein.

If you have the right amount of protein of 3-4 ounces per meal, you will trigger the fat-burning process.  This is why skipping a meal like breakfast is not a good thing because you are not triggering any fat burning. You’re actually starving your body. You’re creating a starvation reflex that will actually cause more fat storing.

One of the triggering effects of fat storage hormones is starvation or going on a diet or being hungry because you are not eating correctly.

That’s why I think people will sometimes say things like, "Oh, yeah, you have to eat 7 meals a day or you have to keep eating more." and "I’m actually gaining weight because I’m not eating enough." Well, that may or may not be true.  It really has to do with you eating enough nutrients with the calories but you basically don’t want to starve your body.

Don’t eat too much protein.

So you want a small amount of protein and anything excess – say like 9-17 ounces of protein per meal – you go to this restaurant and then have all this protein. That can trigger the fat-storing hormones and prevent any chance for weight loss. Just because protein triggers fat burning doesn’t mean that you can have a lot of it.

Quality of the Protein

Now the quality of the protein is important, too, because if you start doing the soy isolate powders, which are in a lot of diet pre-packaged food, that would not be of high quality.

It may trigger the fat storage but it comes with a package and has a lot of side effects – it might create tumors in the liver. It might make you look older as you lose weight.  It’s not the best quality to replace your body tissues. I don’t recommend it.

In fact, I don’t recommend a lot of protein powders that are made with whey or soy.

Egg protein, pea protein, any of the vegetarian protein powders are better but I’d prefer you take actual food.

2. Fats

Fat, believe it or not, even though it has a lot more calories, is neutral when it comes down to fat storing or fat burning.

In other words, having butter for example, won’t just turn into fat on your hips, stomach, waist, or thighs. It’s neutral.

However, when you have fats like greasy deep-fried foods, that grease can affect your liver and block the fat-burning process because all the fat-burning hormones work through the liver. Even though it’s an indirect effect, you need a healthy liver to burn fat. We don’t want to clog up the liver with too much fat but some healthy neutral fats are totally fine – coconut oil…

I’m not saying to go out of your way to eat them but don’t worry about avoiding them. Butter is not a bad thing. Safflower oil. Sunflower oil. Peanut oil. These are totally fine. The problem is taking fast food fat that they would do in the big vats where you have hydrogenated fats, corn oil, and things like these.      

3. Carbs

Now this is interesting because one of the premiere physiology books in all medical schools and chiropractic colleges is Guyton’s Physiology. This book is like the bible of physiology.

And it states that one of the most powerful triggers of fat-burning hormones is the absence of carbohydrates. So it’s not something you do. It’s something you avoid, which is kind of like something you are doing but you are avoiding.

You’re not really eating anything… you’re just not eating something and that would be the carbs. And I’m talking about the sugar, refined carbohydrates, and refined grains. Like the hidden carbs in juice or flavored yogurt. Or alcohol. Those would be hidden carbs.

"In moderation" and portion control are misleading.

The philosophy of everything in moderation or portion control doesn’t play into this because all it takes is a tiny amount of carbohydrate to block fat burning. And you might not know this now unless you watch my videos.

Let’s pretend you had a cookie with 80 calories. You could walk it off in about 1 mile but the Fat Storing Hormone response in that one cookie (if your metabolism is slow and you’re getting older) could inhibit fat-burning hormones for up to 72 hours… So all it takes is tiny amounts (of carbs).

And the reason I’m mentioning it is because sometimes I’ll have people say, “Well, I do not understand all these fat people. They’re so big. It’s so simple. All you have to do is to portion control and exercise more and they would lose weight. They’re just lazy.”

This is absolutely not true and they don’t know this little piece of information right here.

Don’t mix carb with protein.

When you take a carb and add protein, you really spike the fat-storing hormones.

If you had a hamburger or sweetened sour pork at the Chinese restaurant or some type of protein with bread or sugar, it would be worse to have them combined than to have them separated. It creates more of fat-storing hormones. This usually comes into play when you go out for dinner.


Now, MSG (Monosodium glutamate), is hidden as modified food starch. It’s a flavor enhancer. It spikes Fat Storing Hormone by 300%. It’s in a lot of junk foods to make the food taste better than it really is. MSG is a deadly, fat-storing substance because it acts like sugar; even worse than sugar. It creates a spike 300% more than sugar. It’s pretty deadly if you’re trying to lose weight.

4. Fruit

Fruit doesn’t necessarily cause you to gain weight because of the fiber-buffering effect. But if your metabolism is slow, and really slow, the less fruit you can eat.

What I would recommend is to try not to eat a lot of it but reach your goal and then add the fruit in to maintain your weight. Fiber does buffer the Fat Storing Hormone response.

Instead of juicing, blend the food so you can have all the fiber.

5. Stress

Stress does trigger the fat-storing hormones. If your metabolism is slow and you’re burnt out and you’re not sleeping, you should not be doing high intensity exercise because you aren’t going to be able to recover from it.  So low recovery, no sleep, and high exercise mean you’re going to get fat.

The best exercise to do when you’re under stress or you’re not sleeping is the low intensity one. You will burn more fats than in high intensity exercises, depending on how you recover and depending on how you sleep.

6. Sleep

Sleep, in general, helps you trigger fat-burning effects. Sleep is one of the triggers and intense exercise is also one of the triggers (if you’re sleeping and if you are recovering). Exercise is dependent on your overall health and metabolism.

If you have any question or have a success you’d like to share, feel free to post in the comments below. I’m looking forward to seeing your reviews and hearing your success stories!

Dr. Eric Berg


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