An ever-increasing amount of research now suggests that incorporating specific foods into a calorie-controlled diet can actually promote greater fat loss and give you improvements in body composition. Based on the latest scientific research, I’ve compiled a list of 6 foods that appear to give a definite edge in terms of fat reduction. They should be in every bodybuilder’s diet. Are they in yours?

1. Grapefruit

Grapefruit has been a part of many kooky diets over the years. However, now there is solid scientific evidence that suggests grapefruit does provide a positive impact on the body’s insulin levels that results in better fat loss1.

In this 12-week pilot study, researchers from the American-based Scripps Clinic revealed that overweight people who ate a serving of grapefruit with each meal (3 times a day) experienced an average weight loss of 3.6 pounds compared to a control group that lost only 0.5 of a pound.

The study participants maintained their daily eating habits and slightly increased their exercise routine. The simple addition of grapefruit resulted in significantly greater weight loss and some participants even lost more than 10 pounds during the study1.

The researchers speculated that some “hidden” chemical properties within the fruit enhance the effects of insulin and this is supported by the lower glucose and insulin measurements seen in participants that consumed grapefruit. Lowering insulin secretion in response to food intake enables fat to be burnt for energy and also increases satiety- satisfy hunger while consuming fewer calories.

Bodybuilders are generally leaner than the regular population so don’t expect that the consumption of grapefruit will enable you to shed 10 pounds of body fat. However, eating a slice or two of grapefruit after a meal appears to help promote lower, steadier glucose and insulin levels that reduce hunger and promote better fat metabolism. This simple strategy may well enhance fat loss during a calorie-controlled diet.

2. Red Wine

Yes, red wine should be a part of every health conscious person’s diet. Small amounts of this beverage provide numerous cancer-preventative effects but red wine may also enhance fat metabolism2.

One of the biggest discoveries in nutritional science is the identification of resveratrol, the active ingredient in red wine. This compound has been shown to dramatically increase the rate at which cells metabolize fat. Resveratrol stimulates the SIRT1 gene to produce a protein called sirtuin-1 which blocks a receptor on fat cells. When this receptor is blocked, lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) is increased and the formation of new fat (adipogenesis) is decreased2.

Other studies have shown that the stimulation of this protein by resveratrol (red wine consumption) also activates the genes that promote a longer, healthier lifespan. Resveratrol comes from the skin of grapes but since it oxidizes quickly (losing its metabolic effect in the process) fresh grapes and white wine are less effective sources. Red wine is a unique source of resveratrol as it retains the same amount as was in the grape at the time of fermentation.

I’ll give you an idea of how much I believe in the health benefits of this compound. Previously I’ve never drank red wine and never really cared for it’s taste at all. However, based on the steadily accumulating health benefits of this drink I’ve trained my self to have a half-glass of red wine with my evening meal, every night. This small amount won’t have any detrimental effect on body fat and it’s all that’s required to provide some rather powerful heath benefits. It doesn’t have to be the expensive stuff either. Around 5 bucks will get you a very drinkable red wine. Remember to seal the bottle tightly as it red wine tends to go acidic rather quickly.

Now, I’m not advocating that consuming large amounts of red wine is going to get you ripped. Not for a second. Alcohol is alcohol; it is a calorie-dense nutrient that acts a lot like fat in promoting calorie storage. However, bodybuilders need to get their head around the idea that everyday science is unveiling previously “hidden” compounds in regular foods that have profound benefits to our metabolism and physiology. And sometimes these compounds are found in foods that are not your typical bodybuilding staples. Smart bodybuilders will incorporate this new research into their diets and reap the benefits.

3. VP2 Whey Isolate

If you’re looking for foods shown in research to enhance fat metabolism and improve body composition (increase fat loss and/or lean body mass) you cannot go past high quality whey isolate. The research is tremendously compelling. Here are some examples.

VP2 Whey Isolate Chocolate - Best Whey ProteinOne study examined the effects of supplementation with a high quality whey protein in comparison to casein in healthy adults. Even though no exercise was performed during this trial after the 10 week supplementation period (only 20 grams a day), the whey group demonstrated a decrease in body fat percentage and an improvement in anaerobic performance3.

A study on rodents has shown that supplementation with a whey isolate during 6 weeks of exercise training resulted in much better improvements in body composition compared to supplementation with casein or carbohydrate. The researchers discovered that whey isolate (but not casein or carbohydrate) preserved lipid oxidation in the hours during and after exercise, unlike the other supplements. This means this type of whey promotes greater utilization of body fat for fuel4.

Now those studies give great insight into whey isolate, however, the results of clinical trials on VP2 Whey Isolate that used real bodybuilders and weightlifters in a “real world” setting are even more compelling.

In a double-blinded, randomized study design (the gold standard in clinical research), two groups of bodybuilders supplemented with either casein (a high quality protein) or VP2 Whey Isolate during a 10 week intense weight lifting program5. The dose was 1.5 grams of supplement per kilogram of body weight per day. This dose is typical of most bodybuilders who use protein supplements.

The results of the VP2 Whey Isolate study were stunning to say the least.

The group that used VP2 showed a gain in lean body mass that was 615% greater than the control group (an average of 10 pounds of muscle). Also, VP2’s ability to promote fat loss shone through in this study. The group using VP2 experienced a significant decrease in body fat compared to the control group as well as better strength gains5.

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If you’re serious about getting results from all those jaw clenching, teeth grinding hours in the gym you’d be crazy not to add VP2 Whey Isolate to your daily protein intake. In fact, if you’re looking for the best gains possible, no other supplement of any kind in any category has been proven as effective as VP2 Whey Isolate.

4. Dairy Calcium

A substantial amount of scientific research has accumulated over recent years that support a rather unlikely concept. The amount of calcium consumed within the diet appears to be a key component in the regulation of energy metabolism6. The evidence suggests that a high calcium intake not only protects against body fat accumulation, it enables a person to utilize (burn) more fat for energy. The amount of calcium in the diet basically determines how easily an individual gains or loses body fat. So if you’re after a lean’ mean physique you’d be crazy not to increase your intake of calcium.

However, before you go rushing out to buy a pack of calcium pills, beware that the best source of calcium that promotes fat loss is from dairy foods that are rich in protein.

Dairy proteins that are rich in calcium appear to provide the greatest fat-loss effect6. A review of the current literature on the impact of calcium’s effects on body composition clearly shows that calcium from dairy sources exerts a significantly greater effect on fat metabolism and weight loss than calcium supplementation. Maybe this is one reason why VP2 has such a profound effect on body composition. For years we’ve received reports from athletes all over the world that these dairy-based products are highly effective at improving the lean muscle to body fat ratio. It’s no coincidence that regular servings of VP2 Whey Isolate will boost dairy calcium intake, and as the research suggests, ensures rapid fat loss during a calorie controlled diet.

5. Fiber-Rich Vegetables

A high intake of vegetables (high in naturally occurring fiber) is one of the real secrets to an ultra lean body7. Best of all, a high vegetable intake enables your supplements to exert their potent effects on muscle growth. Unfortunately most bodybuilders don’t eat enough vegetables. The reason why vegetables are so effective for fat loss is that they provide “bulk” to the diet but add very few calories. This “tricks” the metabolism into staying elevated during calorie restriction because of the large volume of food the body has to process7.

Vegetables increase satiety and keep blood sugar concentrations steady so that the muscle-building, fat burning process isn’t interrupted.

If you want a single digit body fat percentage then a high intake of vegetables is essential. All vegetables are nutrient dense, yet sparse in calorie content, so make sure you select from a variety. Not many people realize a large plate piled high with any variety of vegetables contains less than 300 calories and I guarantee most people couldn’t finish the plate!

As your calorie restriction becomes tighter, increase your vegetable intake. This not only keeps your hunger at bay, it will also definitely enhance your fat loss results.

6. Water

That’s right, plain old water! Based on the research available, there is no doubt that drinking more water enhances fat loss during a calorie-controlled diet.

In a recent study, 14 healthy, normal-weight subjects (seven men and seven women), were used to assess the effects of drinking 500 milliliters (approximately 18 ounces) of water on energy expenditure, metabolism and fuel utilization8. In this study the scientists assessed energy expenditure and metabolic rate by using whole-room indirect calorimetry. This is a highly accurate method of assessing changes in the metabolism.

Results showed that drinking 500 millilitres of water increased metabolic rate by 30%! The increase occurred within 10 minutes of consumption and reached a maximum after 30 to 40 minutes.

Drinking water increases thermogenesis (calories expended via heat). About 40% of the thermogenic effect originates from the body warming the water from room temperature to body temperature. In men, fat was the main fuel utilized during this process. In contrast, women tended to use carbohydrates to fuel thermogenesis. The total thermogenic response to water consumption in this study was about 24 calories.

Drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 100 calories. If a person is on a calorie-restricted diet, this amount will definitely add up as weeks go by to ensure better fat loss results.


1. The 228th ACS National Meeting, Aug 2004.
2. Nature 17:429;771-776, 2004.
3. J Appl Physiol 87: 1381-1385, 1999.
4. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 283: E565-E572, 2002.
5. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 34;5: A1688, 2002.
6. Obesity Research reviews 12: 582-590, 2004.
7. J Nutrition 130: 272S-275S, 2000.
8. J Clin Endo & Metab 88; 6015-6019, 2003.

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6 Nutrients That Speed Fat-Loss and Why You Should Get Them in Your Diet

by Paul Cribb Ph.D. CSCS. time to read: 9 min