15+ Thermogenic Foods That Can Help You Burn FatLuke Coutinho
Did you know that there are foods that can help you burn fat? Known as thermogenic foods, these can help stoke your metabolic rate and burn calories. Now before you start thinking only overeating and loading on these foods will help you with fat loss, let me correct you. There is no magic food in the world to help you do that. You need to focus and work on nutritional balance, movement, sleep, exercise, and emotional health to do that. Just understand the science behind these.
What does thermogenesis mean?
It is the process in which the body generates heat. Anything you eat needs heat to break it down. Also, understand that all human beings are endothermic species. It means that your body has to work hard to maintain the internal temperature irrespective of the external temperature.
For instance, if it is summer and scorching outside, your body works very hard to keep your internal temperature cool to keep your vital organs and other functions in check. Similarly, if you are in a cold country, your body has to work hard to keep you warm. It is why the food habits of people living in cold regions are very different from those in hotter regions. People in cold countries will have a higher fat and protein diet because their bodies need to burn a lot of calories and energy to maintain their internal temperature.
Think of it like this. Your body needs fuel to maintain an internal temperature. Where does it get this fuel or energy? Calories. How does it get calories? From breaking down fat, carbohydrates, and proteins from the foods you eat. And yes, certain foods have a high thermogenic value, which means your body burns more calories to break down these foods.
Again I repeat: Don’t just take this list and start eating these foods thinking you will burn fat.
Fat loss happens when you exercise the right way, sleep the right way, do not overeat, do not eat too fast, cut out refined sugar, junk, and so on, among other lifestyle changes. For effective fat loss, you need to create a high metabolic power that works for you even when you sleep or are sedentary.
Let us look at the list of thermogenic foods that nature has given us.
- Cold-pressed coconut oil. hereKnow more about its benefits .
- Good pure green tea. Don’t buy cheap quality tea dust. Opt for whole green leaves. The antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in it promotes fat burn/loss of belly fat.
- Apple cider vinegar. Start with 1 teaspoon (you can build it up to 1 tablespoon if it suits you) diluted in 1 glass of water with a dash of Sri Lankan Cinnamon powder. It is effective to reduce appetite, lower blood sugar, and improve insulin resistance. The acetic acid in ACV is linked with aiding fat burn.
- Sri Lankan Cinnamon or True Ceylon Cinnamon. Add it to your morning concoctions and even your dessert. If you are drinking a cup of coffee or green tea, add a dash of cinnamon powder to increase the thermogenic value. I like adding a pinch of elaichi (cardamom) too. It works two ways. Not only is it thermogenic, but it also cuts down acid levels in the beverage.
- Chili peppers. These may not work for people who have ulcers and chronic acidity. But for everyone else, they are highly thermogenic foods that can boost your metabolism, burn fat and keep off the extra weight from your system. Its antioxidant capsaicin keeps you full, prevents overeating, helps burn more calories and lose body fat.
- Plain black coffee, without milk and sugar. Caffeine is highly thermogenic. It keeps you full for longer, boosts your metabolism, and makes your body work hard to break it down. A study revealed that people who took caffeine an hour before their workout burned nearly twice as much fat versus those who did not.
- Whole eggs. The yolk and the white together is a fat-burning food coupled with exercise, sleep, and emotional wellness. Studies suggest that these increase satiety. These are high-quality proteins that can boost your metabolic rate by about 20%.
- Pure ghee. I always tell people that it is a superfood. The next time you are making scrambled eggs, add a little bit of ethically-sourced A2 ghee. You will feel full for 3 to 4 hours because it is a thermogenic food. It uses a lot of calories to break down.
- Sweet potatoes
- Bean sprouts
- Quality protein-rich foods. Natural protein, not synthetic protein. These are high in thermogenic value because your body uses a lot of energy to break down protein. When you have good quality protein, you build more muscle. When you have more muscle, your body automatically burns calories to maintain your body and muscle tone. The more muscle you have, the less fat you will have. Don’t think that one hour of cardio or running every day is going to burn body fat. You need to build muscle, not big and buff but lean muscle. Here are 10 bodyweight exercises to do that.
- Legumes and pulses (moong dal, chana dal, rajma, and so on)
- Raw cacao (powder or nibs)
The big question
You will not believe it. I have patients who come to us with a laundry list of medications – from statins, high blood pressure medication, and three kinds of diabetic medications. But when my team tells them to eat ghee or coconut oil, their big question is – Hey, does that have side effects? And I say, “You should be worrying about the side effects of the 25 different drugs that you are on instead of coconut oil or ghee.” It is unfortunate how people’s mindsets are trained to believe that unnatural chemicals are better than what nature has given us.
The next big question that most people will ask after reading this list of thermogenic foods is: Will these foods create a lot of heat in me? Let me tell you: very few people are allergic to foods that create heat for them.
It is your poor lifestyle that creates heat in you. When you overeat, miss your meals, skip them, or have chronic acidity, anger, and negativity – these increase heat in your body.
People will look at cinnamon and say, “It is a ‘heaty food’. Let me not eat it.” If cinnamon genuinely creates heat in you, don’t have it. But when you understand the science behind food synergies and thermogenic foods, you start to get smart about adding the right ones to your diet.
When you consume ultra-processed and refined foods, you do not use your metabolism or break down calories that work for you. Try to build a powerful machine (your body) that can work for you even when you are on a holiday, sleeping or sitting.
The bottom line
Try adding these thermogenic foods to your plate. These are commonly available. You don’t have to add all of them. If you eat a balanced diet, most of these foods may already be part of your balanced meals. But if you are on a fad diet, you probably don’t have any of these foods. Your fad diets just push you onto supplements and protein powders, tell you to not eat fruits, or give up carbs. All it does is make you sad and deprived. If your diet doesn’t make you feel good, it is not sustainable or working for you. Go back to nature and adopt simplicity. It is the way the healthiest people lived.
You do not have to go to extremes and put yourself into boxes. Tons of people follow balanced diets, exercise, sleep, look after their emotions, set boundaries respectfully, and are way healthier. So, live smart and make informed choices.
Disclaimer: Please keep your healthcare provider in the loop before introducing any new food item into your lifestyle, especially if you have a medical health condition or are on medications. In case you are allergic to certain foods, please avoid them.
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