6 Foods That Burn Fat & Build Muscle

smoothie cleanse plan

From Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS

For most people, the hardest part of the battle of the bulge is the fact that eating—which is the very thing that caused the scales to tip in the first place—can never be completely avoided. Unlike alcoholics who can quit drinking completely, or smokers who can give up cigarettes, those who want to lose weight and build muscle must commit to completely changing how they approach a behavior that they still participate in at least three times per day.

The good news is that there are foods that can literally kick the body into fat burning mode, training it to melt away pounds and replace the flab with lean muscle. Consuming these foods is especially important because it is estimated that the success of any weight loss program is 80% based on diet, and only 20% based on fitness.

Here are my six favorite foods to help you sculpt the body of your dreams.

And the best part? They taste great, too.


I don’t think anyone has ever sculpted a bikini body by living on chips and guacamole, but I also think that avocados have gotten a bad rap in the weight loss world. Finally, though, experts are understanding that healthy fats (like the monounsaturated fats found in avocados) can actually help you lose more weight than low-fat foods, partly because they help regulate blood sugar levels and also reverse insulin resistance.

Avocados should also be a key component in any weight loss program because they are loaded with fiber that helps keep you full and regular. And more than many other fruits and vegetables, avocados contain are also a good source of protein, the nutrient most known to burn fat and build muscle.

Bone broth

Bone broth is definitely one of my all-time favorite healing foods. And while you may already know the benefits of bone broth to seal your leaky gut and help you heal from chronic health conditions like IBS or arthritis, you may be surprised to know that it can also boost your metabolism and help you sculpt lean muscle. That’s because bone broth is rich in amino acids—including glycine, glutamine and arginine—that build and repair muscle tissue, support bone mineral density, boost nutrient absorption and synthesis and maintain muscle and connective tissue health.

Bone broth is also known as a potent detoxifier that can help the digestive system remove waste and cleanse the body of inflammatory toxins that cause weight gain and make it difficult to lose.

I understand that simmering a pot of broth for hours and hours isn’t exactly convenient, so I developed my innovative Bone Broth Protein that provides all of the nutrients and benefits of bone broth in a super-convenient powder.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are known as a superfood for a reason, and they actually achieved this “super” status thousands of years ago, when Aztec and Mayan warriors relied on the tiny seeds to give them high energy and endurance during battle.

Today, we know that chia seeds are also a great source of the fiber (two tablespoons contains more than one-third of the recommended daily value) that is critical in maintaining healthy digestion. Chia seeds help to clear toxins from the gut, while also prolonging hydration, keeping you fuller longer and reducing cravings. Finally, because chia seeds are high in zinc, they help the body to produce leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and energy levels.


Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi have seen a surge in popularity, recently, because of their high probiotic content. Probiotics help maintain a healthy digestive system, bolster the immune system against infection and, according to research, can also help the body burn fat.

Traditional kefir is a milk drink similar to yogurt, and it is one of my favorite fermented foods because of its mild flavor and easy adaptability to a number of recipes. Also, because of the high levels of lactic acid it contains, kefir can literally kill toxins and fungi within the body, thus preventing inflammation and stubborn weight gain.

For those who avoid dairy, coconut kefir is made from coconut milk and provides the same probiotic and fat burning power as regular kefir.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a true healing elixir that I use daily because of its ability to normalize the body’s pH,—and also because of its powerhouse combination of nutrients and healing compounds, which includes naturally-occurring probiotics and enzymes.

Additionally, apple cider vinegar is an effective weight loss aid thanks to its ability to curb sugar cravings and help the body to detoxify. It stimulates bowel mobility and lymphatic drainage and, as a result, is one of the key ingredients in my secret detox drink.

Coconut oil

Even if you do nothing else to try to burn fat and build muscle, swapping all of the cooking oils in your home with coconut oil will have a huge impact on your efforts. Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are easier to digest and not stored as fat like the long-chain fatty acids found in plant-based oils like safflower and sunflower. These MCTs are immediately converted to energy in the body, which helps the body burn more fat overall.

Research has also shown that the caprylic acid found in coconut oil can break down fat cells within the body at the same level as a period of fasting or starvation.

Feel inspired? Read Dr. Josh Axe’s guide to foods that make you feel crappy or check out how to combat a binge, asap.