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August 11, 2016 2 min read

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

Imagine if there were foods that actually sped up your metabolism by burning more fuel and in turn helping to burn fat! Well stop dreaming, because these foods do exist!

Eating thermogenic foods, as they’re known, increases your metabolism and ability to burn calories by converting consumed calories into heat. Although most calories you consume are burned by physical activity and the body’s regular metabolic functions, diet-induced thermogenesis accounts for roughly 10% of calories burned.

5 Thermogenic Foods That Boost Metabolism

  1. Lean Protein – Protein has a high thermogenic effect. When it comes to diet-induced thermogenesis, protein burns more energy while digesting compared with carbs or fat. In addition, consuming protein keeps your appetite suppressed for longer, helping you feel full. Good sources of lean protein include skinless chicken breast, fish, eggs, lean beef, beans, whey or turkey.
  2. Herbs and Spices – Eating meals that contain certain spices, such as black pepper, or red hot peppers enhances thermogenic effects — helping to make you feel full and improving fat oxidation. These foods contain a substance called capsaicin, which is responsible for the pungent taste of hot peppers. In a Japanese study, men and women who ate a meal that included capsaicin had an increase in the amount of energy expended after their meal. In a similar fashion, a substance called piperine found in black pepper increases thermogenesis through stimulation of the nervous system. Other foods and spices that have a thermogenic effect include hot chili peppers (cayenne, habanero, jalapeno), turmeric and cinnamon.
  3. Cruciferous Vegetables – Cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories, helping to boost your metabolism. Examples of these vegetables include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts.
  4. Green Tea – Green tea is rich in polyphenols and caffeine — two substances which have demonstrated the ability to boost thermogenesis. In particular, a polyphenol called catechin helps increase thermogenesis by inhibiting a certain enzyme. Green tea has other health benefits attributable to its antioxidant characteristics. These include reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
  5. Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids. When consumed, these fatty acids have been reported to inhibit the body from storing fat by increasing thermogenesis. Since medium chain fatty acids are a readily available fuel source, they can be metabolized faster. Since the thermogenic effect of coconut oil can last up to 24 hours, just 1-2 teaspoons a day can have a dramatic effect on your metabolism.

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