Foods That Burn Fat: The
Top 10 Lists
By Tom Venuto, CPT, CSCS
Anytime the topic of
discussion in my blogs, articles or newsletters has
turned to my own personal grocery shopping list, there
has always been a spike in interest. It seems that
many people are not only curious about what foods a
natural bodybuilder eats to maintain single digit
body fat, but they also want to be taken by the hand
and told exactly what foods to eat themselves while
on fat-burning or muscle building programs. That’s
why I decided to put together four separate “top 10”
lists of healthy foods that burn fat and build
muscle. Exact quantities and menus are not listed,
just the individual foods, and of course my food
intake does vary.
I aim to get as many different varieties of
fruits and vegetables as possible over the course of
every week and there are a lot of substitutions
made, so you are not seeing the full list of
everything I eat, only what foods I eat most of the
I also want to point out that
while I don’t believe that extreme low carbs are
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 and
higher protein diet for fat loss purposes. These
include reduced appetite, higher thermic effect of
food and “automatic” calorie control.
Personally, I reduce my carb intake moderately and
temporarily prior to bodybuilding competitions.
Specifically, it’s the foods that are on the starchy
carbs and grains list that go down during the brief
pre-competition period when I’m working on that
really “ripped” look. I keep the green and fibrous
veggie intake very high however, along with large
amounts of lean protein, small amounts of fruit, and
adequate amounts of essential fats.
This list reflects my personal preferences, so this
is not a prescription to all readers to eat as I do.
It’s very important for compliance to choose foods
you enjoy and to have the option for a wide variety
of choices. In the past several years, nutrition and
obesity research - in studying ALL types of diets -
has continued to conclude that almost any
hypocaloric diet that is not completely “moronic”
can work, at least in the short term.
It’s not so much about the high carb - low carb
argument or any other debate as much as it is about
calorie control and compliance. The trouble is,
restricted diets and staying in a calorie deficit is
difficult, so most people can’t stick with any
program and they fall off the wagon, whichever wagon
that may be.
I believe that a lot of our attention needs to shift
away from pointless debates (for example, low carb
vs. high carb is getting really old… so like… get
over it everyone, its a calorie deficit that makes
you lose weight, not the amount of carbs).
Instead, our focus should shift towards these
* How can we build an eating program that we can
enjoy while still getting us leaner and healthier?
* How can we build an eating program that helps us
* How can we build an eating program that improves
Here’s one good answer: Eat a wide variety of high
nutrient density, low calorie density foods that you
enjoy which still fit within healthy, fat-burning,
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Here are the lists of foods I choose to achieve
these three outcomes. This eating plan is not
difficult to stick with at all, by the way. I enjoy
eating like this and it feels almost weird not to
eat like this after doing it for so long.
Remember, habits work in both directions, and 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 frequently consume
them. So for example, if oatmeal is on the top of
the list, it means that is the food I am most likely
to eat every single day.
My 10 top natural starchy carb and whole grains
1. Oatmeal (old fashioned)
3. Brown rice (a favorite is basmati, a long grain
4. Sweet potatoes (almost same as yams)
5. Multi grain hot cereal (mix or barley, oats, rye.
titricale and a few others)
6. White potatoes
7. 100% whole wheat bread
8. 100% whole wheat pasta
9. Beans (great for healthy chili recipes)
10. Cream of rice hot cereal
My Top 10 top vegetables
4. Salad greens
6. Peppers (green, red or yellow)
My top 10 lean proteins
1. Egg whites (whole eggs in limited quantities)
2. Whey or Casein protein (protein powder
3. Chicken Breast
4. Salmon (wild Alaskan)
5. Turkey Breast
6. Top round steak (grass fed beef)
7. Flank Steak (grass fed beef)
8. Lean Ground Turkey
My top 10 fruits
Note: I DO include healthy fats as well, such
as walnuts, almonds, extra virgin olive oil,
flaxseeds, flaxseed oil (supplement - not to cook
with), avocado and a few others.
Also, I do eat dairy products and have nothing
against them, nor am I lactose intolerant. I simply
don’t eat as much dairy as the rest of the stuff on
my lists. When I eat dairy, its usually skim milk,
low or non fat cottage cheese, low or non fat yogurt
and low or non fat cheese (great for omelettes).
Last but not least, I usually follow a compliance
rate of about 95%, which means I take two or three
meals per week of whatever I want (stuff that is NOT
on these lists - like pizza, sushi, big fatty
restaurant steaks, etc)
I hope you found this helpful and interesting. Keep
in mind, this is MY food list, and although you
probably couldn’t go wrong to emulate it, you need
to choose natural foods you enjoy in order to
develop habits you can stick with long term. In the
fruits and vegetables categories alone, there are
hundreds of other choices out there, so enjoy them
About Tom Venuto
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 you 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: