Are there foods that melt off fat?

How do you melt off fat? Are there foods that do it? Is it a combination of vegetables?

You can’t “melt off” fat. There is not any food or combination of foods that specifically help burn body fat. A variety of vegetables will improve your consumption of vitamins, minerals, and fiber but will do nothing to “melt off” fat.

Weight loss is a very misunderstood process. To move body fat from storage in fat cells (distributed from your head to feet) and burn as fuel for energy, you need carbohydrates (minimum 130 grams per day). When carbohydrates are limited in the foods you eat, your body incompletely breaks down fat and produces ketones. Ketones are produced by stored fat when burned without carbohydrates for your body’s fuel like in a low carbohydrate diet. Ketones are irritating to your kidneys so your body will excrete ketones in urine. This urinary loss of ketones represents only about 100 calories per day. This is not going to result in significant weight loss.

Your brain and nerve cells need glucose (blood sugar) for fuel. This is why body organs and muscle starts to break down to some extent during a very low carbohydrate (VLCD of less than 600 calories per day) or fasting. This process is very evident in people with anorexia eating disorder. Muscle and organ proteins break down and yield glucose for your brain and nerves to function. This is a waste of protein in food since the amino acids in protein are excreted making them unavailable to build and repair your body.

Your body originally evolved to be able to store fat. This enabled cave people to survive from feast through famine to the next feast. Only those cave people able to store fat survived and reproduced. Unfortunately, they pass their “fat genes” on to us. The cave people with “skinny genes” died off during famines.

Your body will do anything it can to preserve its fat and muscle stores. So during a low calorie or low carbohydrate diet, your body will reduce its energy output by lowering your metabolism. As muscles become smaller, because they have been broken down for fuel, they have less fuel to perform work. In fact, less stored fat is lost during a semi-starvation diet (600 to 900 calories) or a fast (less than 600 calories) when compared to a moderately reduced calorie plan (1200 calories). Weight loss during a very low calorie (VLCD) or low carbohydrate diet is mostly water lost from muscles during the first 3 days due to loss of stored glycogen.

Weight loss occurs because, in the first few days of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet or any diet less than 1200 calories per day, your body uses blood sugar (glucose) and stored sugar (glycogen) in your liver as fuel. Sugar is stored in muscles and your liver. This stored sugar holds 3 times its weight in water. When you lose the stored sugar, you lose the water held by glycogen in your muscles and liver. In addition, in diets of less than 900 calories, any food eaten including fat and protein will be burned for fuel. Your body can convert 70% of the protein and 30% of the fat you eat to glucose. This is a waste of food protein. You would be better off eating more carbohydrates. In such a low-calorie diet, the protein you eat will not be available for the growth and repair of muscles and organs.

After being on such a diet and you begin to eat normal amounts of calories and carbohydrates to maintain this lower weight, your body will start to re-hydrate itself and replenish glycogen, wasted muscle and organ protein. Weight gain usually results.

So how do you effectively lose weight? If you eat a minimum of 1200 calories, with adequate carbohydrate and protein foods, you should achieve a slow weight loss. One to 2-pounds per week is a realistic goal. An individualized weight loss plan would start with determining the calories necessary to keep you at your present weight. Then for every 500 calories per day you decrease in your present plan, you will see a 1 pound weight loss per week. A 1000-calorie reduction would result in a 2-pound per week weight loss.

If you would like to know how many calories you need to lose 1 to 2-pounds per week, try my Healthy Body Calculator®