There’s no way around it. Burning fat is crucial to losing weight. People who don’t burn fat won’t lose pounds or inches, but what is the most effective way to melt fat away before it turns to flab?

Everyone knows that physical activity is a great way to burn fat. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to promote healthy weight loss. Eating a low-calorie diet also helps, but that can be difficult to stick with over the course of time.

Nutritionists are now beginning to recognize a third way to burn fat and lose weight. However, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the human body is equipped with it’s own fat burning mechanism. In healthy people, most fats are burned up during metabolism, the chemical reaction that turns food into energy.

The metabolic rate refers to how fast the body converts food into energy, and a higher rate of metabolism is ideal because it burns fats quickly before they can be deposited into body tissue.

Here’s the bad news. Unfortunately, as most people get older, their metabolism starts slowing down, which means that more calories get stored as fat. A lagging metabolism leads to a chubby body as well as one or more health issues.

But, there is more good news. People can speed up their metabolism simply by feeding their bodies the right nutrients. The most successful weight loss plans encourage dieters to eat a variety of healthy foods that provide the vitamins and minerals needed to rev up the metabolism. Including high-fiber foods also helps because those foods satisfy hunger pangs and make the body feel full longer.

Keep reading for a helpful list of the best fat burning foods in five different food categories.

1. Grains

Choosing whole grains over refined ones is better because they take more energy to digest, and they don’t have the most important nutrients removed. Oatmeal, whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa and barley are all good fat burning foods because they retain the fiber, antioxidants and phenolic acids that are found in the bran and germ, which are the two substances removed by the refining process.

2. Vegetables

High fiber, high water content and low calories make many vegetables excellent fat burning foods. Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, kale, tomatoes, beets and carrots are full of the fiber and nutrients that help make shedding extra pounds easier.

For those who can stand the heat, hot peppers are a terrific source of capsaicin, a chemical that revs ups the metabolism by raising body temperature. When it comes to vegetables, eating them raw is best because many of the nutrients are destroyed during the cooking process.

3. Fruits

Not all fruits speed up the metabolism, but there are several that do a good job. Apples are rich in fiber and certain chemicals called polyphenols that work directly on metabolic rates. Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are also full of fiber and natural chemicals that make them good fat burning foods.

4. High-Protein Foods

Protein takes more energy to digest, and it helps build muscle. That’s important because people with more muscle mass usually have a higher metabolism. Avoiding extra fat by choosing lean selections is essential, but dieters shouldn’t shy away from protein sources. Eating eggs, lean chicken and turkey without the skin, lean cuts of beef, peanuts and lentils can all lead to better metabolism.

5. Dairy

Some studies have shown that adding dairy foods to their diet allows people to consume more calories without gaining weight than people who skip dairy. It is also thought that calcium makes it difficult for fat cells to deposit themselves in the body. Since dairy foods are high in calcium it makes sense that they might play a part in reducing body fat.

However, many dairy foods are also loaded with calories, so it’s important to stick with low-fat options including milk and cheese. Otherwise, the benefits of calcium will be canceled out by the extra caloric intake. Regular, unflavored Greek-style yogurt is the safest choice when it comes to fat burning foods in the dairy category.