The Six Best Fat-Burning Foods

At 26 years old, Tom Aikens was the youngest chef ever to earn a Michelin star. But for this veteran of the Virgin London Marathon and the Marathon des Sables, it's not enough for food to merely taste spectacular - it should boost your fitness, too. Here he takes your through six power foods to help fight the fat.

Picture credit: tomaikens.co.uk

Peas

A 100g serving of cooked peas packs in a quarter of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and a third of your vitamin K RDA. "Studies suggest that peas help lower cholesterol and can help keep your blood sugar levels stable," says Aikens.

RW serving suggestion: Pea, mint and lemon hummus

Blanch 200g fresh peas in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and blend with 200g tinned chickpeas, a handful of mint and one garlic clove, crushed. Add two tbsp of olive oil, the juice of one lemon and one tsp of sesame seed paste, blend for another 30 seconds, season and enjoy with warm pitta bread. Serves four people.

Picture credit: Martin-Barraud/ Getty Images

Mackerel

Omega-3-rich mackerel is known to enhance brain functioning and boost muscle mass. "There's also evidence that the fish helps to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and regulate metabolism," Aikens says.

RW serving suggestion: Grilled mackerel

Mix 50ml olive oil with the juice and grated zest of half a lemon, one crushed garlic clove and half a tsp of thyme leaves. Brush over four fresh mackerel fillets and grill for six minutes. Flake into salad. Serves four. 

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Garlic

"Raw or cooked, garlic adds a zing to savoury dishes and, according to one meta-analysis of previous studies, one clove a day can lower cholesterol by about nine per cent," Aikens says. Other research has also linked the pungent bulbs to an uptick in carb metabolism, meaning food gets converted to energy more efficiently.


RW serving suggestion: Garlic crostini


Mash one clove of garlic into a paste with one tsp of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Spread over four slices of baguette and grill until golden.

Picture credit: Simon Stanmore/ Getty Images

Papaya

"A source of minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, papaya also contains a substance called papain," says Aikens. This digestive enzyme helps you build muscle and shift pounds by assisting your body in breaking down protein.

RW serving suggestion: Papaya salsa


Mix a diced, ripe papaya with 120g of black beans, quarter of a red onion, diced, and half a red pepper, chopped. Add the juice of two limes, a pinch of chilli flakes and 150ml of pineapple juice. Ideal with grilled fish. Serves two.

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Lentils

"Lentils are rich in protein and loaded with soluble fibre, which helps balance blood cholesterol levels, and insoluble fibre, to keep you feeling full," says Aikens.  

RW serving suggestion: Lentil salad


Simmer 300g of puy lentils in salted water for 25 minutes. Mix one crushed garlic clove, one tbsp of chives, five tbsp of rapeseed oil, two tsp of mustard and two tsp of cider vinegar. Add half this dressing to the lentils and spoon over baby spinach leaves. Top with roasted shallots and crumbled goat's cheese, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serves four. 

Beetroot

Delicious baked, made into fritters or grated into salads, this ruby-red root contains a compound called betaine, "which could help stop the buildup of fatty deposits in the liver", says Aikens. "Beet fibre has also been found to lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol - fats in the blood." Plus, a study showed that nitrates in beet juice help boost stamina by 16 per cent.

RW serving suggestion: Beetroot smoothie


Blend 100ml each of pomegranate juice and orange juice with one cooked beetroot. It's delicious poured over ice. Serves one.
    
Picture credit: Michael Rosenfeld

More recipes are available at lovebeetroot.co.uk, ukshallot.com and tasteofsummer.co.uk.