When on a weight loss journey, we all follow certain recommended guidelines, such as eating fewer calories, doing both cardio and weight training, and avoiding processed foods. In addition to that, we’re advised to keep track of our nutrient intake and keep a balanced, sustainable diet. While all the above-listed recommendations are amazing, betterweighmedical.com adds another important aspect to consider – thermogenic foods.
What Are Thermogenic Foods?
To better understand what the purpose of thermogenic foods is, we first need to go through a process called thermogenesis. For instance, whenever you eat something, your body starts going through several different processes to digest the food. Your stomach starts producing digestive juices, your gastrointestinal tract starts working faster, and each of the nutrients you intake requires a different amount of energy to be absorbed. As you can imagine, all these processes require energy, but they also produce heat. Still, the amount of heat produced varies depending on the foods you take, and that’s where thermogenic foods come in place.
It’s also important to understand the concept of energy expenditure. Energy expenditure is the total energy we use throughout the day. Its value is quantified using the kilocalorie unit and varies from person to person. Factors that determine your TEE (Total Energy Expenditure) include physical activity, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), adaptive thermogenesis, and the Thermic Effect of foods you consume. Besides these main factors, TEE varies depending on sex, age, weight, and height, as well as your body composition.
To increase your energy expenditure, it’s advised you engage in physical activity. Keep in mind that physical activity doesn’t only include the act of a workout but also a non-exercise activity you do throughout the day. Lastly, it would help if you consumed more thermogenic foods – like the ones we highlighted in this article.
What Are the Best Thermogenic Food Options to Burn More Fat?
1. Chili peppers
This one may not come as a surprise since chili peppers are generally known to cause a heat sensation. Well, the heat is not only in your senses; these peppers contain capsaicin, a compound that significantly increases energy expenditure. If you don’t mind the spicy sensation, we highly suggest you include chili peppers into your diet and reap all the amazing benefits such as reduced appetite, increased lipid oxidation, and a nice boost to your metabolism.
Another spicy flavor on this list is ginger. While it’s present in many dishes worldwide, you may not be familiar with its thermogenic benefits. Ginger contains the same compound that causes heat in chili peppers – capsaicin. Since ginger is typically eaten in smaller quantities, we suggest you start incorporating it into your diet as often as possible to increase your ability to burn fat.
Turmeric is a well-known spice in many cuisines, but did you know that it’s also thermogenic? The active ingredient found in this spice is curcumin, which is known to trigger thermogenesis and aid the fat loss process. If you don’t get a chance to use it more often while cooking, you can try making turmeric tea or golden milk or try including it in your smoothies.
4. Protein-rich food
Besides the amazing benefit of keeping you full for longer, lean protein is also known to have a high thermic effect. The energy your body requires to metabolize protein is much higher than other macronutrients. Foods like salmon, chicken, steak, and eggs should be your top choices to increase thermogenesis.
5. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is nearly entirely made of medium-chain triglycerides, known as MCTs. Therefore, whether you choose coconut oil or an MCT supplement, you can expect to see increased fat burning. Since MCTs work in favor of your energy expenditure, don’t fear them just because they’re fats and instead embrace them in moderation.
Caffeine is a much-praised nervous system stimulator. Thankfully, we can now get it from numerous different sources besides coffee. This fantastic thermogenic compound can be present in several teas, chocolate, and, most recently, supplements. Whether you’re a coffee addict or no fan at all, we suggest you avoid going overboard with caffeine doses during the day to avoid the sudden energy drops afterward.
Although fish may not always have a high protein content, it’s packed with some health-healthy fatty acids and has an amazing influence on your thermogenesis. Still, it’s recommended you consume it moderately rather than every day due to a risk of higher cholesterol levels.
If you’re not a fan of that spicy kick you’d get from ginger or turmeric, it’s good to know that cinnamon also has a nice thermogenic effect. Besides improving your overall calorie usage, this spice also acts on a cellular level, helping convert your fat cells into energy. Another plus is you can easily incorporate it into your daily diet, from tea, coffee, and smoothies to some tasty desserts.
9. Black pepper
A compound known as piperine found in black pepper is a well-known thermogenic compound. If you haven’t been using this amazing spice regularly when seasoning your meals, we believe now is the perfect time to start.
10. Green tea
Although listed last, green tea is actually an excellent choice if you’re looking to influence thermogenesis. The main reason this tea is so helpful to boost your metabolism and the ability to burn fat is found in its two compounds – caffeine and catechins.
As you can see, thermogenic compounds can be found in numerous foods, spices, and beverages. With that in mind, there’s no reason you couldn’t start incorporating them more into your diet. By doing so, you’re increasing your chances of a metabolism boost and supporting the fat-loss processes in your body in a natural and sustainable way – all that without compromising your lean muscle mass. Keep in mind that thermogenic foods can be found in all three essential macronutrient groups: protein, carbs, and fats. Take some time to balance them out in every meal, and help your body burn more energy before it starts storing it as unnecessary fat.