Thermogenic Foods – Eating For Fat Loss

What are thermogenic foods and how can they help you in reaching your weight loss goals? You may have heard or read about fat burning foods. But what determines whether or not a food is ‘fat-burning’ or not?

Enter the thermic effect

Read on and learn why some foods are better than others when it comes to boosting your metabolism and supporting your weight loss efforts. You’ll also learn some of the best foods to include in your diet if you want to burn fat and reach/maintain your ideal weight.

What is the thermic effect of food?

The thermic or thermogenic effect of food (TEF) refers to the increase of your metabolic rate caused by the foods your eat. How does this work?

In order to digest the food you eat, your body expends energy. The harder the food is to digest, the more energy your body uses to process it. On average between 5-10% of the energy your body expends each day goes into processing everything you put into your mouth.

For instance, there is a big difference in the amount of energy your body expends between the digestion of the different macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat.

Protein: Up to 30% of the calories contained in lean protein are used by your body to digest and process it. This puts protein at the top of the list when it comes to themogenic effect.

Carbs: Up to 20% of the calories from carbs is used by your body to digest them. The type of carbs (simple or complex) and the source of the carbs (what foods they come from) play an important role in the amount of energy your body expends digesting them.

Fat: Fats have the smallest thermic effect. Only 2-5% of the calories from fat are expended by your body to process them.

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What are thermogenic foods?

All foods require your body to expend energy in order to digest them. This means that pretty much all foods can be considered thermogenic.

However, some foods are a lot more ‘thermogenic’ than others. These are foods that cause what fitness cook Dave Ruel (Metabolic Cooking) call’s a metabolic thermo-charge. They force your body to expend a lot of energy to digest them, thereby boosting your metabolism.

But there’s another huge benefit to including these thermogenic foods to your menu…

Because these foods are pretty much all whole, natural foods (veggies, meat, fish, herbs and spices) they automatically make your diet a lot healthier. They cause you to switch many highly processed foods for healthier ones. The result is that, besides revving your metabolism and burning more fat, you will also be providing your body with more healthy nutrients.

Metabolic Cooking recipes provide a simple but effective way to make your meals healthier, more thermogenic and boost their fat burning power.

The best thermogenic foods are those that:

  • cost a relatively large amount of energy to digest, causing a metabolism boost
  • have a relatively low caloric value
  • are healthy and provide your body with the nutrients it needs (sorry… weight loss pills aren’t considered thermogenic foods)

Top thermogenic foods

The first thing you should do if you want your diet to be more thermogenic is to start including more whole foods ditch the processed ones. Just by following this simple principle many people would see dramatic improvements in their weight, vitality and overall health.

OK, but what are some of the best foods you should be eating if you want boost your metabolism and put your body into fat burning mode?

Lean protein

Up to 30% of the calories contained in protein are burnt in the digestion of it. This makes protein a great thermogenic food. As discussed in this article, there’s plenty of other reasons to make sure your diet contains plenty of protein.

The best sources of quality protein are:

  • chicken and poultry
  • lean meat
  • fish
  • eggs


Lots of vegetables are great thermogenic foods, including leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. You’ll find an extensive list in this free report, as well some great metabolic dressings and seasonings to spice them up with.

See also: Fight Abdominal Fat With These Veggies

Hot peppers

Peppers like chili peppers contain capsaicin, which will boost your metabolic rate. Hot peppers are effective whether you eat them raw, cooked, dried or powdered. Great news if you like spicy food. Cayenne pepper is actually one of the top fat burning spices.

Green tea

Numerous studies show that green tea speed up the metabolism. It also helps curb your appetite and is rich in antioxidants. Drink it without sugar though.


Lentils take a lot of time and energy to digest and contain a large amount of resistant starch, which boosts your metabolism. They are also rich in iron, a nutrient many of us are lacking. Last but not least, lentils are very satiating. They fill you up and prevent hunger pangs.


Nuts are rich in fiber as well as mono-saturated fats (good fats). They digest slowly and fill you up quickly. This makes nuts like almonds or walnuts great snack foods to include in your thermogenic diet.

For an extensive list of great fat burning foods and how to start eating for healthy and sustainable fat loss, I recommend Mike Geary’s Fat Burning Kitchen. If you want hundreds of step-by-step recipes that are specifically designed to boost your metabolism, try Metabolic Cooking. You can read our detailed review here.

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