Certain foods have a thermogenic effect on our body, meaning they help increase our metabolism and burn more calories. Thermogenesis is a long word for describing how the body generates heat. In the body, we generate heat by burning energy (calories).
By increasing the amount of calories we burn,
we can burn extra fat to promote healthy weight loss.
That is why exercise is an important part of healthy weight management. The body requires additional energy to sustain physical activity therefore we burn more calories. Incidentally, the body’s temperature also increases during exercise.
Choosing thermogenic foods can also play a role towards weight management. Thermogenic foods are capable of increasing the energy production of our body, thereby burning extra calories. Here are three examples of thermogenic foods:
1. Coconut Oil
The reason why coconut oil helps boost metabolism is because it contains high levels of a type of fatty acid called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). MCT is easily digested and actually increases our body’s ability to burn fat thereby promoting weight loss.
Similar to olive oil, when shopping for higher quality coconut oil it’s best to choose organic coconut oil with words on the label such as virgin/extra-virgin, unrefined, or cold-pressed to indicate that harsh chemicals have not been used to extract the oil.
2. Green Tea
Green tea contains a phytochemical called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) that boosts thermogenesis and helps our body burn more calories. While you’re not likely to notice significant weight loss by simply drinking a cup of green tea, the overall antioxidant properties of green tea, including EGCG, make it a healthy beverage.
The heat sensation from cayenne and other hot peppers is from a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin helps increase the body’s metabolism and burn more fat. According to a 2013 study, hot peppers can temporarily increase your metabolism by up to 25%.*
Cayenne can be taken as a supplement to improve blood circulation, lower blood cholesterol, and boost metabolism. Cayenne is also used in topical ointments to reduce arthritic pain.
For individuals who experience heartburn, consuming hot peppers may not be tolerated very well and should be avoided.
Every individual has a unique set of dietary, health, and lifestyle circumstances so it’s best to speak with a health care professional to determine whether it’s appropriate for you to consume specific nutrients or not.