Last Updated on August 25, 2021 by Femniqe Editorial
Don’t let the term thermogenesis intimidate you.
It simply means the amount of energy your body requires to digest and fully process food.
Now that you have a simple understanding of what it is, lets go a little deeper.
What Is The Thermic Effect Of Food?
The word Thermic effect refers to the energy that is lost during the digestion of food.(1)
The thermic effect accounts for only a small proportion of total daily energy expenditure, about 5%.
However, many popular weight loss diet plans are based on the thermic effect of foods as they require people to eat very little and be hungry all day long in order to lose weight.
As well as low calories, these diets also claim that when you consume particular foods your body expends more calories digesting them than what it was before eating those foods in your stomach.
What Is Actually Considered A Thermogenic Food?
Thermogenic or thermogenics are nutritional supplements that affect metabolism and result in heat generation (thermogenesis within the body).
Thermogenic supplements are used to either increase body temperature or to decrease appetite for those looking to lose weight.
Common ingredients found in these supplements include Caffeine, Ephedra, Yohimbe and Capsaicin (chili).
Most of these products also contain stimulants, which force the body to use energy faster thus allowing more calories in a given period of time to be lost as heat.
Before we look at what foods have a high thermic effect, lets look at how insulin involved.
The Role Of Insulin In The Thermic Effect Of Food
Insulin helps to break down the nutrients we eat in order for them to be used by our body.(2)
The calories that are used during the process of digestion have already been counted and absorbed by the body before they even came into contact with your stomach.
Therefore, if you want to lose weight, simply avoid eating food since you’ll only absorb what’s necessary and less energy will be spent on digesting it.
Therefore, according to this theory, in order to lose fat we must use up more calories than we actually consume.
To add weight loss as a secondary effect all foods high in protein need to be consumed daily.
This will make sure that insulin levels don’t rise or stay too high which would inhibit any fat burning activity from happening within the body. High protein foods also keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, which helps to reduce your overall calorie intake.
12 foods with high thermic effect to include in your daily diet (All Vegan-Friendly)
1) Green Tea (Lower Calorie Choices)
Green tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants that help lower cholesterol levels and fight cancer-causing radicals.
The process involved in making green tea extract involves steaming unopened tea leaves under high pressure, these opened cells make way for the infusion of polyphenols into water, which gives green tea its anti-inflammatory properties.
In mice studies it was shown that EGCG (a polyphenol found in green tea) suppressed the spread of cancerous cells.
Green Tea extract (catechins) plays a role in raising the levels of adiponectin, which helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. For more information on Green Tea check out my complete article here .
2) Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is known for its thermogenic effect due to capsaicin which triggers brown adipose tissue activity.
Capsaicin has been used by many cultures to treat illnesses such as flatulence, colic and heartburns. The active ingredient capsaicin speeds up digestive processes and regulates metabolism.
The spleen responds by flushing out harmful elements from the body while increasing the uptake of water and minerals, which results in weight loss.
Capsaicin is also used to relieve arthritis pain (by reducing the amount of substance P that triggers your pain sensation) all while increasing blood circulation to the affected area.
To get the most benefits out of cayenne pepper take as many whole fresh peppers as you can handle every day. You can add it to any food or drink for better taste or just chew on some dried ground chili (the hotter the better).
3) Cayenne Pepper Tea
Cayenne pepper tea is a powerful metabolism booster and tastes almost exactly like plain green tea without much caffeine in it (<1 cup will be equivalent to about 1/10th cup of coffee depending on how strong you make it).
Just boil three cups of water and add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the pot with your favorite green tea bag. Let it boil for about 5 minutes then enjoy!
4) Sesame Oil (Good For Your Skin Too)
Sesame oil is commonly used in Asian cooking, but did you know that sesamin , a phytosterol found in sesame seeds, also helps to lower cholesterol levels and has cancer fighting properties.
This makes Cooking with Sesame Seed oil a great choice when looking for healthy alternatives to reduce body fat. Sesamin works through blocking the absorption of dietary cholesterol while boosting HDL production.
It also reduces the number of LDL particles by 52% which means less cholesterol is circulating around the body.
5) Chili Peppers (Capsaicin)
Heat up your metabolism and feel the burn with these spicy peppers.
They are a good source of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to boost immunity and ward off colds and flu symptoms.
Studies have shown that chili peppers stimulate thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue by increasing norepinephrine production, which causes fat cells to release their fatty acids for energy use instead of being stored as body fat.
4 oz fresh chilies equals about 1 tsp dried powder form. Add to any dish you’re preparing or eat raw on top of salads or soups.
6) Parsley & Cilantro
These two herbs are used typically in Mexican dishes but add flavor to any food or beverage.
They are good sources of vitamin C, which helps to neutralize free radicals that cause damage to cells in the body and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to cell walls.
7) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACV boosts your metabolism by boosting liver function. One study showed that drinking 3 tablespoons of ACV daily for 12 weeks increased estrogen levels 2 fold in women with low estrogen levels, while having no effect on healthy control subjects.
Higher estrogen levels indicate more fat was being burned for energy instead of stored as fat. Another benefit is that ACV can help reduce water retention which makes you feel lighter and less bloated during PMS week.
Mix 1 tablespoon of ACV with 1 cup of water or add to your favorite green smoothie.
8) Cayenne Pepper and Ginger Tea
An ancient recipe from India that will give you an energy boost through thermogenesis while also aiding in digestive disorders, constipation, diarrhea, liver complaints and weight loss.
Add 1 tsp of each to 2 cups boiling water. Let steep 10 minutes then drink hot or cold throughout the day to avoid overeating cravings and reactions from foods with naturally occurring chemicals (sugar alcohols).
9) Cinnamon Drops (Ceylon & Cassia)
Cinnamon is a cholesterol lowering agent that helps regulate blood sugar levels which make it good for diabetics as well as those trying to lose excess body fat by lowering cravings and stimulating thermogenesis.
A recent study showed that cinnamon is more effective than prescription drugs for lowering blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
To use, just boil three cups of water in a pot or tea kettle and add one teaspoon of either Ceylon Cinnamon (with the thin bark) or Cassia Cinnamon (with the thick bark). Let it steep about 10 minutes then drink up!
10) Apple Juice & Honey Tea
After reading how acetic acid can increase metabolism I was curious what else could be done with this natural food preservative besides adding to pickle brine.
Adding some honey to apple juice makes for a tasty way to lose extra body fat by boosting your metabolic rate while also aiding in digestive disorders, constipation, liver complaints and even weight loss.
Blend 1 cup of apple juice with 1 tbsp of honey then let steep 10 minutes before drinking hot or cold throughout the day to avoid overeating cravings and reactions from foods with naturally occurring chemicals (sugar alcohols).
11) Garlic & Ginger Infused Water
Garlic contains allicin which lowers blood pressure by opening up your arteries because it acts like a vasodilator meaning it expands blood vessels and lowers LDL cholesterol in the process.
It also helps reduce water retention making cellulite less visible when combined with other natural diuretic agents such as wheatgrass, celery, cucumbers and oranges. I usually do this after my workout to prevent excess water retention that can occur when the body overheats.
Carbs also cause expansion of water when broken down into glycogen which is why I don’t recommend them post-workout even though it seems like it would be beneficial to replenish lost energy stores.
Drink 16 oz of cold water with 2 sliced garlic cloves and a 1 inch slice of ginger root in the morning on an empty stomach (no food until after you’ve finished drinking your tea).
12) Cayenne Pepper Water
1 tbsp cayenne pepper dissolved in 16 ozs cold water boosts metabolism due to its thermogenesis properties that come from capsaicin and other spicy compounds contained in hot peppers, not just being hot or spicy.
Drinking this cayenne pepper infused water increases metabolic rate by 3 times as much as plain water or water with lemon juice.
It also has other benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing the amount of oxygen that comes in through your lungs. Use fresh cayenne pepper for maximum benefit.
13) Coconut Water (young Thai coconut or Vita Coco brand)
Contrary to popular misconception, this fruit of the coconut palm is not a type of milk but more closely related to an acorn.
This makes it nutritionally different than other types of water because it contains fat which helps prevent dehydration and even weight loss by boosting your metabolism while also aiding in digestion disorders, constipation, menstrual irregularities and stomach upset naturally due to its anti-bacterial properties that help kill bad bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella common found in meats.
Coconut water should be consumed instead of plain water during physical activity for these reasons when working up a sweat.
Drink 16 ozs before bedtime each night to lose belly fat and prevent water retention through a process called reverse osmosis which is where it sucks excess water out of the body making cellulite less visible.
14) Raw Apples & Green Tea
Green tea is very small in size compared to black or Oolong tea leaves that produce this aromatic beverage because they are fermented after plucking while green tea remains unfermented, not even dried.
It’s also considered non-stimulating but what makes it unique is its thermogenic effects on the metabolism more so than caffeine (but has about half as much polyphenols).
Apple skins are rich in quercetin which acts like an antioxidant, antihistamine and can help prevent weight gain by blocking enzymes that break down carbohydrates which turns them into fat but also by suppressing appetite, revving up your metabolism and increasing energy levels.
Drink 16 ozs of green tea (but not black or Oolong) with a few slices of raw apples throughout the day to boost your metabolism naturally while helping you lose weight in other ways as well such as lower cholesterol, high blood pressure and wrinkles on your face.
15) Tomatoes & Watermelon Juice
Both contain lots of lycopene which is an antioxidant that protects cells from damaging free radicals and helps fight heart disease, cancer and even skin wrinkling due to UV exposure when consumed as part of a healthy diet rich in whole foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.
This antioxidant is not only fat soluble but also accumulates in fatty tissue which helps prevent these diseases as well as lowering cholesterol and triglycerides while boosting your metabolism.
Drink 16 ozs of watermelon juice with the rind to get more benefits from carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein found on the green outer skin of the fruit plus fiber that slows absorption rate for sustained energy throughout the day without blood sugar spikes or crashes.
Anti-cancer and diuretic, broccoli is considered a super food because it contains sulforaphane which helps prevent breast, bladder, prostate and other cancers as well as bladder infections.
It’s also high in fiber which lowers cholesterol and triglycerides while boosting your metabolism plus vitamins A & C that help fight off colds and even wrinkles on your face from sun exposure.
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin that when eaten is broken down by the digestive enzymes to produce sulforaphane which is released into the bloodstream to act like an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals.
17) Pistachio Nuts & Olive Oil
Made from olives, this thick golden liquid pressed from the fruit of a tree is rich in monounsaturated fat (the same type that’s found in avocados) which helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides while boosting your metabolism.
The phytosterols act as an anti-oxidant, especially against breast cancer cells plus oleic acid, carotenoids such as lutein, lycopene, beta carotene and zeaxanthin.
You don’t all these foods with high thermic effect , just pick a few that fits well into your daily diet and make sure you’re watching daily calorie intake.