Can certain foods fire up your metabolism and help you burn fat more effectively than others? They can if they are thermogenic foods. Kick start your weight loss plan by including these five must-try fat burning foods into your diet.
Thermogenic Food: A food that increases heat in the body, leading to an increase in metabolism and ability to burn fat.
1. Green Tea
Drinking up to four cups of green tea a day may help you lose weight. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, green tea substances known as catechins may be responsible for the fat-burning properties of green tea. Clinical studies have suggested that caffeinated green tea can improve weight loss in people who are overweight and moderately obese. The specific catechin that seems to be most responsible is EGCG, a compound that temporarily speeds up the metabolism after you drink it.
Don’t look to decaf to get the same thermogenic effects from your green tea. One study showed that 100mg of caffeine (the equivalent of four – 8 ounce cups of green tea) increased the resting metabolic rate of both lean and overweight participants by 3-4% for over two hours after it was consumed.
When it comes to thermogenic foods, protein is the king. Protein has been shown to enhance the process of thermogenesis at much greater rates than carbohydrates or fats. A high protein diet will lead to a 25% – 40% increase of energy expenditure, while a high carbohydrate meal will only increase metabolism by 6%- 8%, and high-fat by 3%. Not only does protein increase the body’s metabolism and burn more fat than carbs, higher protein diets also lead to more satiety – the feeling of being full and satisfied.
An added bonus to eating protein from chicken or turkey is ample amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Your body uses tryptophan to produce a chemical called 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP may work as a natural appetite suppressant and affect how your body perceives hunger.
Whole grain oats require twice as many calories to break down than processed foods. The high amounts of insoluble fiber found in oats digest much slower than in starches or processed foods. Your body will have to work at digesting a whole grain longer, leading to more time in an elevated, thermogenic, fat burning state. Oats are another food that is high on the satiety scale, and studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast, like oatmeal, can lead to less snacking and overall lower calories later in the day.
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil was once thought to be unhealthy, due to its high levels of saturated fat. New research is showing that saturated fat from natural sources, like coconut oil, does not lead to heart disease, and unrefined coconut oil is now considered by many to be a healthy food.
The fatty acids that make up coconut oil are called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) that go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they lead to increased energy expenditure. MCTs have also been found to support weight loss through satiety. One study combined coconut oil with hot chilis to get a 50% increase in dietary thermogenesis.
If you like your salsa spicy, you are in luck. Salsa was proven at the Oxford Institute to increase metabolism by up to 20%. The spicy peppers in salsa are responsible for its thermogenic effects, so if you can take the heat, be sure to make it extra spicy. One compound found in hot peppers is capsaicin, which has been studied extensively and found to have many beneficial effects. Capsaicin has been shown to be thermogenic, anti-inflammatory, have pain relieving properties, and to stimulate digestion. Add a serving of spicy salsa to a chicken breast or other high-protein meal for the ultimate fat burning experience.
To supercharge your body’s thermogenic process and boost your metabolism even higher, try drinking a tall glass of ice water before each meal. In order to digest the ice water, your body will first work to warm it to body temperature. It takes energy to heat up that ice water, which means more calories out. The water will also help reduce toxins in your body, and fill you up so you eat less. WebMD says drinking water before a meal can lead to 75 less calories consumed, and that adds up if you do it before every meal.
Most of the calories, or energy, that your body uses during the day goes towards normal functions like breathing, brain activity, keeping your heart beating, and digesting your food. About a tenth of your calories are spent digesting your meals, so by eating foods that have higher thermogenic rates, you can naturally increase your metabolism and burn more fat.