Oxford University and Pennsylvania State University have found that certain foods have fat-burning, muscle-building, or satiety-inducing properties. Here are ten great weight loss foods that help you burn fat, build muscle, and increase your energy. They also help you to control cravings.

1. Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons, pineapples, grapefruit, apples, limes, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, celery, carrot, and watermelon liquefy body fat so it can be easily flushed out of your body, according to researchers at Arizona State University.

Pennsylvania State University researchers discovered that people who ate a large apple, approximately 128 calories, 15 minutes before lunch took in 187 fewer calories during lunch than those who didn't snack beforehand. They also reported feeling more satisfied afterward. Apples are loaded with belly-filling fiber, and they require lots of chewing, which can make you think you're eating more than you really are, says study author Julie Obbagy, Ph.D.. Apples contain pectin, a strong appetite suppressant that keeps you satisfied for long periods of time, helping you to avoid overeating so you lose weight.

People who ate half a grapefruit three times a day lost 4 pounds in 12 weeks, even though they hadn't deliberately altered any other part of their diets, according to a recent study from Louisiana State University.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is high in fiber, which helps prevent your body from storing fat and suppresses your appetite. If you eat it about 1 to 2 hours before doing a weight loss workout, it will give you sustained energy, allowing you to work out longer and more intensely which results in faster weight loss. Oatmeal can help to control cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that the use of fiber is an effective and well-tolerated part of a prudent diet for the treatment of high cholesterol. Fiber incorporated into food products is more effective at reducing blood glucose response than a fiber supplement taken separately from the food. Our blood glucose levels can determine how hungry and energetic we feel, and whether we store fat or burn it.

3. Dairy products

Dairy products like low-fat yogurt, cheese, and milk are high in calcium, which breaks down fat cells faster. In a recent study, people who ate low-fat dairy products 3 to 4 times a day lost 70 percent more fat than people on a low-dairy diet. Scientists also believe that foods high in calcium suppress calcitriol, a hormone responsible for making fat cells bigger. Other studies have shown that dairy products contain high-quality proteins that help suppress appetite.

A diet consisting mainly of high calcium foods resulted in an average weight loss of 24.6 pounds in 16 weeks, more than the average weight loss in a year in trials using weight loss drugs like orlistat and sibutramine, according to a 2003 edition of the International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders.

Cheese is an excellent source of casein protein, one of the best muscle-building nutrients you can eat. Danish researchers found that even when men ate 10 ounces of full-fat cheese daily for 3 weeks, their LDL ("bad") cholesterol didn't budge. Researchers at Boston University found that casein protein caused more weight loss and a higher muscle ratio than whey protein. You can eat your cheese and lose weight.

Drinking milk at breakfast can help you eat less at lunch, say Australian scientists. In their study, overweight people who drank about 2 1/2 cups of skim milk in the morning consumed 8.5 percent fewer calories at an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet than people who drank the same amount of fruit juice. Both beverages had an equal number of calories, but the milk contained 25 grams of protein while the fruit juice had virtually no protein and 63 grams of sugar. The high sugar causes your energy to crash after a couple of hours and increases your cravings. It also leads to a depressed emotional state. It's the protein that helps you feel satisfied and nourished throughout the morning.

4. Nuts

Eating a variety of nuts as a snack helps to ward off hunger, and gives you a healthy dose of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help you burn fat faster and for men, they help to produce more testosterone. Eat raw and organic nuts instead of roasted and salted to get the full weight loss benefits.

Studies at Loma Linda University in California found that eating about two ounces of nuts a day, five times a week lowered participants' blood cholesterol levels by 12 percent. Walnuts were used, but similar results have been reported with almonds and peanuts. It appears that replacing saturated fat in the diet with the monounsaturated fat in nuts may be the key. It makes sense to eat nuts instead of other fatty, salty snacks.

5. Fish

Eating more fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines makes your body more sensitive to a fat-burning hormone called leptin, which promotes satiety (Leptin means "thin" in Greek). It controls whether you store the calories you eat as fat or if they are burned for energy.

Because fish are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, they make you feel full, stabilize blood sugar, and help to stimulate your metabolism, which helps you lose weight. In a research study from Iceland, dieters who ate salmon felt fuller 2 hours later than those who ate low-fat fish like cod or didn't eat any fish at all. The researchers found that eating foods high in omega-3s increased blood levels of leptin. Don't care for fish? Take a fish oil capsule every day - one that has 500 milligrams of the omega-3s DHA and EPA. It offers the same benefits as salmon.

6. Spices

Add spices to your foods like cayenne peppers, cinnamon, garlic, and hot mustard to increase your fat-burning metabolism by 8 to 20 percent. Spicy foods can reduce your appetite by increasing your body's norepinephrine and epinephrine levels. Dr. Jaya Henry at Oxford University proved that adding 3 grams of chili peppers to meals can significantly increase your fat-burning metabolism. In another British study, spicy mustard made people burn an extra 45 to 75 calories over 3 hours.

Garlic is recognized for its healing powers in ancient times. It is a strong diuretic that can help you flush out excess water weight. Its active component, allicin, may help to prevent weight gain and reduce your levels of insulin, blood pressure, and triglycerides, says T. Rosenthal, lead author for a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension. It is also effective against cancer and heart disease, according to Richard Rivlin, an attending physician at Weill Cornell Medical Center.

7. Resistant starch

Resistant starch is just another kind of dietary fiber, but according to a study done at the University of Colorado, you'll burn 20 to 30 percent more fat by including more foods loaded with resistant starch, such as navy beans, bananas, potatoes, lentils, oatmeal & whole grain breads.

Resistant starch prevents your body from storing too much fat, so you'll never gain weight (and only lose weight). Like other dietary fibers, it leaves you feeling satisfied longer and reduces hunger pangs.

8. Pork Chops

Purdue University researchers found that a 6-ounce serving daily helped people preserve their muscle while losing weight. Australia's Pork CRC study revealed that pork had a more positive effect on PYY, one of the human hormones controlling appetite, than chicken. Initial results found that the pork-based dieters lost weight consisting of body fat while the control group gained weight.

Further research shows that pork chops contain almost five times the selenium per gram of protein as beef, and twice that of chicken. Selenium is an essential mineral that helps the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone, which plays a major role in fat metabolism and energy production.

9. Beans

In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, scientists found that people who regularly ate beans were 23 percent less likely to have large waists than those who never ate them. The bean eaters had lower systolic blood-pressure measurements, according to researcher Victor Fulgoni III, PhD.. Legumes are rich in belly-filling fiber as well as potassium, which helps fight hypertension. Eat half a cup of cooked beans 3 or 4 days a week to gain their many benefits and help you lose weight.

10. Eggs

Eating eggs for breakfast can help you control your hunger later in the day. Indiana University scientists determined that dieters who consumed their biggest dose of daily protein at breakfast felt full longer than those who ate more of the nutrient at lunch or dinner. They were less likely to overeat the rest of the day, says study author Heather Leidy, Ph.D.. To ward off hunger before lunch, eat 20 to 30 grams of protein or more for breakfast.

According to research from the Rochester Center for Obesity and Louisiana State University, eating eggs for breakfast could help to limit your calorie intake throughout the rest of the day by more than 400 calories. Eggs are low in calories and high in essential amino acids, selenium, choline, vitamins D, B12, E and A, zinc, and iron.

Implement these ten great weight loss foods that help you burn fat, build muscle, and increase your energy, and you'll live a longer, healthier, and happier life without sacrifice or struggle. Enjoy the new you!

Author's Bio: 

Michael Locklear is a researcher and consultant with 30 years experience, studying health, nutrition, and human behavior. He has been president of the Global Peace Project since 1986, and he administrates the website www.Natural-Remedies-for-Total-Health.com as part of the Global Peace Project Educational Outreach Program. You can also find him on The Total Health Blog.