Belly fat is a major concern for many South Africans. Not only does it affect your self-confidence but excess visceral fat around the abdomen is linked to several health issues like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes.

The good news is that there are many delicious foods that can help burn fat naturally. By including these healthy fat burning foods in your diet and living an active lifestyle, you can get rid of fat easily.

Lets look at 24 best fat burning foods easily available in South Africa. These foods are nutritious, affordable and can be incorporated into various local dishes. Let’s get started!

Lean Protein Foods

1. Eggs

Eggs are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They are a nutrient dense source of high quality protein. Eggs keep you satiated for longer which helps prevent overeating. They support muscle growth and boost metabolism which aids weight and fat loss over time.

Aim for 3-4 whole eggs per week as part of a balanced diet. You can boil, poach, scramble or turn them into a nutritious omelette with veggies.

2. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is a lean source of protein with less than 2 grams of saturated fat per 100g serving. It is rich in protein which preserves and builds muscle mass. More muscle mass equals to higher metabolic rate and greater calorie burn.

Grill, bake or sauté a skinless chicken breast and add it to salads, sandwiches or rice bowls. Go for organic and free-range chicken whenever possible.

3. Fish and Seafood

Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are loaded with protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. The healthy fats in seafood accelerate fat loss and reduce belly fat.

Aim for at least two 3 ounce servings of oily fish per week. Other options like prawns, mussels, crab and lobster are lower in calories and fat compared to red meat making them ideal for weight loss.

4. Legumes and Lentils

Legumes including beans, lentils and peas are superb plant-based sources of protein. They are rich in fiber which suppresses appetite. Lentils are low-calorie and keep you feeling fuller for longer preventing overeating and snacking on junk foods.

Incorporate lentils into curries, stews or soups. Black beans can be added to salads and dips like hummus. Chickpeas are highly versatile and can be made into falafel or blitzed into a dip.

5. Tofu and Edamame

For vegetarians and vegans, tofu and edamame are excellent sources of protein. With about 10g of protein per 100g, tofu supports metabolism and muscle development without increasing fat. It’s also low in calories and rich in minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium.

Edamame are immature soybeans that contain essential amino acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They make for a satisfying plant-based snack. Add tofu into stir fries, smoothies and curries or grill edamame sprinkled with sea salt for a tasty belly fat burning snack.

Healthy Fats

6. Avocados

Avocados get over 75% of their calories from healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce inflammation. They are high in fiber too which suppresses appetite and decreases calorie intake.

Research shows avocados can help reduce abdominal fat. Have half an avocado daily by adding it to smoothies or spreads. Avocado oil is a healthier choice for cooking compared to vegetable oils.

7. Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts like almonds and walnuts contain unsaturated fats, proteins and fiber that help burn belly fat. They are energy dense so limit to a 1 ounce serving per day. Enjoy nuts as guilt-free snacks instead of inflammatory processed foods with added sugars.

Opt for unsalted raw nuts or fresh nut butters with no added sugars or oils. Almond butter, peanut butter and tahini are delicious spread on whole grain toast or added to smoothie bowls.

8. Olive oil

Olive oil is enriched with anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It is incredibly heart healthy and the staple fat used in the Mediterranean diet. Use extra virgin olive oil for dressings, drizzling and light sautéing.

Research reveals that olive oil specifically reduces abdominal fat accumulation. Aim for 2 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil daily to boost fat burning.

9. Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that are readily used for energy by the body and less likely to be stored as fat. It contains lauric acid proven to reduce abdominal fat.

Stick to 1-2 teaspoons of virgin coconut oil per day. Use for light frying and baking as it has a higher smoke point. Whip up some fat burning coconut oil coffee or chia pudding with it.

High Fiber Foods

10. Oats

Oats contain beta-glucan fiber which slows down digestion, promotes satiety and reduces calorie intake throughout the day. Just a bowl of oatmeal can increase your fiber intake drastically.

Enjoy oatmeal made with rolled or steel-cut oats and water as breakfast. Top with berries, nuts, seeds and a dash of honey for a fat burning meal. Oats can also be added into smoothies or energy bars.

11. Berries

Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are loaded with fiber that suppresses appetite and cravings. They are a rich source of antioxidants which reduce inflammation and body fat.

Add fresh or frozen berries into oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt or simply snack on them. Dried berries also make for a healthy snack when you feel like snacking between meals.

12. Chia seeds

Just 1 ounce of chia seeds provides a whopping 10 grams of fiber per serving. The high fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer curbing cravings and overeating. Soak chia seeds to create a belly-filling gel.

Sprinkle chia seeds on salads, cereal and yogurt. Add to smoothies or make chia seed pudding by mixing with coconut milk and berries.

13. Flaxseeds

Like chia seeds, flaxseeds are a fiber powerhouse. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that support fat burning. Flaxseeds promote feelings of fullness preventing overeating and promoting weight loss.

Add ground flaxseeds to oats, smoothies and yogurt. Mix them into cookie dough, muffins or bread for a healthy fiber boost.

14. Popcorn

Air-popped popcorn provides a very high amount of fiber per calorie compared to many other whole grain foods. Fiber keeps you feeling satisfied. Just avoid commercial microwave popcorn loaded with trans fats.

Make popcorn with a teaspoon of olive oil or popcorn kernels in a pan. Season with some chili flakes, garlic powder, parmesan or cinnamon for flavor. Enjoy 3-4 cups as a healthy high fiber snack.

15. Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, kale, lettuce, bok choy, arugula and chard are incredibly low in calories and carbohydrates. What they lack in carbs they provide in bountiful fiber that fills you up.

Add spinach or kale into your morning smoothie. Make salads with lettuce, arugula or chard as the base. Stir fry bok choy or create healthy sautés with kale. They help burn belly fat with minimum calories.

Metabolism Boosting Foods

16. Green Tea

Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies show green tea catechins boost metabolism and promote fat burning especially abdominal fat.

Drink 2-3 cups of unsweetened green tea daily. Have it first thing in the morning or between meals. The combination of caffeine and EGCG is perfect for increasing energy expenditure leading to more calories and fat burned.

17. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar increases feelings of fullness and delays stomach emptying. This improves satiety and reduces calorie intake. It also contains acetic acid that’s been proven to reduce abdominal fat accumulation.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of organic raw apple cider vinegar to salads or slaws. You can also dilute in water and have as a drink before meals. Reduce belly fat with this superfood pantry staple.

18. Chili Peppers

Chili peppers contain capsaicin that has metabolism boosting effects leading to more calories burned after meals. Studies also show that capsaicin specifically targets abdominal fat and helps reduce waist circumference.

Add chili flakes or diced red chili peppers to curries, soups, stews, sandwiches and salads. Capsaicin increases fat burn by triggering thermogenesis and suppressing appetite. Spice up your food!

19. Ginger

Gingerol, the active compound in ginger has shown positive effects on lipid and fat metabolism according to research. It helps improve diet induced thermogenesis and fat oxidation.

Add grated ginger to tea, smoothies, stir-fries or curries. Ginger tea is a great way to reap the belly fat burning benefits of this warming spice and improve digestion.

20. Cinnamon

Cinnamon helps modulate blood glucose levels which is important for fat loss. It contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation and lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. All this helps boost metabolism and burn belly fat.

Sprinkle cinnamon powder into your coffee, oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt or baked goods. Cassia cinnamon which is commonly available has the highest antioxidants.

21. Cayenne Pepper

Like other peppers, cayenne is rich is capsaicin which increases metabolism and fat burning after meals. It helps reduce appetite and calorie intake as well. Improved satiety from cayenne leads to less overeating and snacking.

Keep a bottle of cayenne pepper handy to sprinkle on eggs, avocado toast or add into soups and curries. Go for organic cayenne powder for best quality and flavor.

Gut Health Enhancing Foods

22. Yogurt

Probiotic foods like yogurt help populate the gut with beneficial bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome improves metabolism and helps reduce fat storage around the belly. Look for plain unsweetened yogurt with active cultures.

Enjoy a yogurt parfait with berries and nuts for breakfast. Use yogurt in smoothies, lassis and as the base for dips with fresh herbs and lemon.

23. Kefir

This fermented milk beverage has a similar nutrition profile to yogurt but contains more diverse strains of live probiotics. The probiotics in kefir promote metabolism and fat loss especially around the abdominal area.

Use kefir as you would yogurt in smoothies or parfaits. Add berries, flaxseeds or nuts to it for a protein-packed breakfast. Kefir adds a delicious tang to salad dressings too.

24. Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea, the reddish herbal tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis bush native to South Africa, can be a helpful addition to a weight loss diet. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, making it a great substitute for regular tea or coffee if you’re looking to reduce stimulants.

It contains powerful antioxidants like aspalathin and quercetin that may help boost metabolism and fat burning. Rooibos also contains dietary fiber and minerals like calcium and iron that can assist with fat loss efforts. Research suggests the flavonoids in rooibos inhibit the formation of new fat cells and reduce fat storage. The polyphenols may also suppress hunger hormones like grehlin.

Sipping on rooibos tea, especially before meals, may support weight loss by promoting fat burn, controlling appetite, and delivering key nutrients. The pleasant, nutty taste makes rooibos tea an easy habit to adopt.


There you have it – 24 of the top fat burning foods in South Africa. A smart approach is to cut back on processed foods, sugars and refined grains while bumping up intake of these metabolism boosting superfoods. Staying active with regular exercise is equally important.

Aim for a balanced diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, high fiber carbohydrates and probiotic foods. Be mindful of portion sizes too. This along with an active lifestyle can help you successfully and sustainably lose fat and improve overall health.

Annette Louw
Annette Louw

Annette Louw is a qualified nutritionist who helps women lose belly fat through science-backed weight loss strategies. With over 5 years of experience, she provides personalized strategies to help clients burn abdominal fat using strategic diet, exercise, and supplements. Annette stays up-to-date on the latest research and educates women on topics like weight loss for women, reducing cortisol, and activating belly fat burning hormones to support sustainable weight loss.

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