Food Science

Thermic Foods: Boost Your Metabolism w/ High Thermic Effect

The Thermic Effect of Food

When you eat, your body will use the calories gained in various ways. A portion of the calories will be to help you digest your food, keep your metabolism running, and even to absorb the food into your cells.

However, some of the calories will go through a process known as thermogenesis, where your body burns the calories you ingested through heat. Primarily your body is using the calories you created as heat.

This can work in your favor when you’re trying to lose weight. By adding in spicy foods, you can increase the amount of heat your body will use to burn the calories. Naturally, some foods are better than others to induce this thermogenesis process.

Usually, it is herbs and spices that work best for increasing heat production in your body. Also, foods like hot peppers can work very well. Let’s take a look and see some of the best food sources for increasing your diet-induced thermogenesis.

The Best Foods For Burning Fat

Cayenne Pepper

Add a kick to your food and your weight loss goals. Yes, this spice may have a little extra heat, but it is this quality that ramps up the flavor profile while speeding up your metabolism. Adding some spicy heat to your dish will cause your body to burn more calories. In one study, they found that cayenne can help you burn about 100 additional calories at each meal.

Sprinkling cayenne pepper onto some roasted almonds is the perfect weight loss snack. Additionally, you can add it to soups, sauces, roasted vegetables, or even create a nice cayenne crusted chicken breast. The combined heat will help you burn more calories.


Did you just enjoy a carb-heavy meal? Are you now feeling guilty about it? Ginger won’t help with the guilt, but it can help counteract some of the effects of the carbohydrates. Ground ginger can help control your blood glucose levels, which means you won’t see that massive spike in your blood sugar levels after eating a few carbs.

On top of all that, ginger also shares the thermogenic properties that we discussed earlier, meaning it can help burn excess fat. Next time you are making a salad, a stirfry, or roasted vegetables, add a little ginger into the mix. You will reap some significant benefits from this simple act.


You can’t have a list of the best thermic foods without including turmeric. This yellow spice has the power to blast fat out of your system, at least according to a 2009 research study. Curcumin is the key ingredient in turmeric and is responsible for the mighty weight-loss powers. It works by increasing the heat in your body and, as such, ramping up your metabolism, burning more calories as you eat.

So if you are looking for a little extra help with your weight loss goals and want to add some color to your favorite dish, then turmeric is the spice for you. This is another spice that is perfect for veggies, stews, soups, and sauces.


You may have noticed that most of the spices on the list so far have a strong flavor. That trend will continue with this flavorful spice often found in Indian cuisine. It is a great spice that is similar to turmeric and cayenne pepper in the way that it burns body fat.

Cardamon is excellent at spiking your body temperature, even though the spice itself isn’t that hot. Nonetheless, it forces your body to burn some of your calories as heat. Not sure how to use cardamon? It works excellent in chai tea or for wild game, such as venison. Some people are even bold enough to add a little cardamon to their morning cup of coffee. Believe it or not, it will enhance the taste of your coffee and burn a few calories while doing so. That is a win-win scenario.


While there is still much to be learned about how garlic can help burn fat, research has seen some promising results in laboratory mice. Unfortunately, there is no data to suggest that the weight loss benefits those mice experienced will translate to humans, but it can’t hurt to try.

Besides, garlic has a host of other health benefits, from controlling your blood pressure to lowering your cholesterol. Add a few cloves of garlic to your spaghetti sauce or saute it up with your stir fry. While the evidence may not be conclusive on its weight-loss properties, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.


Luckily, not only does coffee keep you awake and alert all day, but it also boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories through the thermogenic process. That’s right; caffeine can increase the temperature of your body, forcing your metabolism to burn more calories to keep everything regulated. So the next time you wake up and grab your morning cup of joe, remember that you’re also sparking your metabolism and losing a few extra fat cells at the same time.

Black Pepper

Chances are you have some black pepper hiding in your spice cupboard. It might be time to break it out and start adding it to everything. The intense flavor found in black pepper is a result of a compound called piperine. This same compound is also responsible for black peppers’ impressive fat-burning capabilities.

A 2011 study concluded that piperine increased the weight loss effect in laboratory mice substantially. As well, a separate study highlighted the piperines impact on reducing the formation of fat cells.

Luckily, black pepper is suitable to add to most dishes, so increasing your intake for this fat-busting spice should be convenient.


Besides a great taste, cinnamon has a ton of antioxidants, which comes with plenty of health benefits, including weight loss. In 2009, researchers concluded that cinnamon would help stabilize your blood sugar levels while suppressing your appetite. Similarly, cinnamon can help move sugar through the bloodstream, effectively mimicking the effects of insulin. Finally, cinnamon may also impact the enzymes responsible for breaking down carbs. As such, the process is slower, and you feel fuller for longer.

Add all of this to its thermogenic properties, and cinnamon is the perfect space for anyone struggling to drop those extra holiday pounds. Add a little cinnamon to your drink, oatmeal or, sprinkle some on top of a raw apple snack.

Hot Peppers

Whether it’s banana, jalapeno, or crazy ghost peppers, all of them have the same impact for generating heat your body. This may include increasing your metabolism and helping you burn more calories. If you focus on the calories in and calories out weight loss strategy, then adding a few hot peppers to your meals throughout the week will help you with the calories out portion of your formula.

Lean Beef

You might be surprised to see a protein-rich food like lean beef make the list. The truth of the matter is that a high-quality lean beef is excellent for reducing their calories.

Lean beef contains leucine, which is a particular type of amino acid. Leucine is excellent at maintaining the muscle mass on your body, and we all know that the more muscle you have, the more fat you can burn. Not only that, but beef can take more time to chew and digest, which means you’re eating slower and will likely feel satiated sooner. This means you eat less and feel full for longer.

But lean beef makes our list of top thermic foods because protein can spike your metabolism much more than carbs or fat. Since beef has a ton of protein, it will increase your metabolism and get you into thermogenesis. Next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t hesitate to pick up an excellent cut of lean beef along with your grass-fed chicken and healthy fish, as the protein in all of these food sources will help your body burn more fat.


Medium-chain triglycerides oil has been made famous by the Keto diet fad. This isn’t to say that MCT oil, which comes from coconuts, isn’t right for you. But this saturated fat has plenty of benefits, including increasing your cognitive function and helping you manage your weight.

Studies show that MCT oil is effective at increasing your metabolic rate. Just two tablespoons of MCT oil per day can increase your metabolic rate by five percent throughout that day. Adding MCT oil to your coffee or using it in your day-to-day cooking could be a great way to increase your metabolic rate and lose a couple of extra pounds.


It’s funny to think about the demonization that eggs received for so long as a cause for high cholesterol. Nowadays, the egg seems to be one of the healthiest foods you can eat and shows up on our fat-burning food lists more often than not.

Several studies highlight the benefits of consuming eggs for breakfast. Eating eggs in the morning will reduce your hunger and leave you feeling satiated for longer. This is never a bad thing when you’re trying to reduce the number of calories you eat in a day.

Similarly, eggs are wonderfully high in protein. As we learned earlier, protein is excellent at sparking the metabolism and causing thermogenesis within your system. The next time you are about to eat porridge or toast for breakfast, take a few minutes to boil up some eggs instead. This will help your weight loss journey tremendously.

Green Tea

Another popular beverage makes the thermic foods list. This is excellent news for all of those who don’t like to drink coffee, as a nice cup of green tea will also increase in metabolic rate and help you lose a couple of extra pounds.

Green tea contains some caffeine, which we learned earlier increases your metabolism. Still, it also has an antioxidant known as EGCG. This particular antioxidant is excellent at promoting the burning of fat, specifically around the belly area. If you’re trying to lose a little bit of weight around the midsection for bikini season, adding green tea to your morning routine could be a good idea.

With that said, some studies have shown that green tea has no effect on fat burning. This variance in data likely indicates that the impacts of green tea on your weight loss journey will highly depend on the individual nature of your metabolism and fat cells.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The popularity of apple cider vinegar has been increasing day by day. It makes sense, as this ancient remedy is supported by evidence-backed data showing the numerous benefits that it can have for your health. This includes increasing your metabolic rate and reducing your fat storage capabilities. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is responsible for increasing the thermogenic response.

Adding to the power of apple cider vinegar and weight loss is the fact that it has been shown to reduce your appetite and manage your glucose levels, making it a great additive to ward off diabetes.

It may be challenging to find places to include apple cider vinegar in your everyday cooking. However, you only need one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with water to reap the rewards that it offers you.

Fatty Fish

We have already talked about beef and how it can help increase your metabolism. Now let’s talk about another protein-rich food, oily fish, which includes salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.

Fatty fish is known for its high omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation, protect you from heart disease, and even manage your weight. One study shows that participants lost about 1.1 pounds over six weeks only by consuming fatty fish regularly.

Adding a little bit of fish to your diet will help increase your metabolism and induce the thermogenic response. It might be time to consider adding it to the weekly lineup of meals, but make sure you are getting clean sources of fish that are low in mercury.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds have plenty of antioxidants, which provide plenty of health benefits. However, it is the increase in your body’s temperature that we are most interested in right now. In one study, researchers found that their participants saw a statistical difference in their BMI and waist size by consuming three grams of cumin every day for three months.

Cumin is lovely to add into your sauces, soups, or roasted asparagus. Be creative and find a new way to to add this spice to your life. Your waist size will decrease from this simple act.

Adding Thermogenic Foods to Your Diet

After looking at the list of foods that could potentially spike your metabolism and increase the thermogenic properties during digestion, it should be reasonably easy to add them to your diet regularly.

Whether it is adding eggs for breakfast or learning to cook with various spices, such as cayenne pepper, turmeric, or ginger, you will start to see that, over time, the fat falls off of you. All it takes is a little awareness and practice to incorporate these thermic foods into your diet and assist in your weight loss journey.

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