So, are there actually some kinds of foods and drinks that can help you lose weight? A growing amount of scientific research suggests the answer is “yes.” This research is based on a process known as thermogenesis, and it could have a substantial impact on the way you eat. Talk to your doctor to see if a thermogenic diet might be just the thing to help you meet your weight loss goals.
What is Thermogenesis?
Thermogenesis may seem like a complex concept, but it’s actually a simple one. It’s basically your body’s way of producing heat. In order for thermogenic weight loss to occur, your body needs to burn calories. The more heat your body generates, the more calories you’ll burn. When you burn more calories, you’ll lose weight faster.1
There are ways you can trigger the process of thermogenesis in your body in order to burn more calories.
The thermogenic process actually begins after each meal. But you have to eat the right kinds of foods, which you’ll learn in more detail in a bit. After you eat, your body will burn calories for several hours.
According to one study, your body burns anywhere from 5-15 percent of the calories you consume through the digestive process. That means if you consume an average of 2,000 calories a day, your body will burn between 100-300 calories simply digesting the food you eat.2
Thermogenic Booster No. 1 – Eggs
So, how do you increase thermogenesis? One way is to increase your protein intake. Research indicates that a diet high in protein could increase the thermogenic effect of calorie burning by as much as 30 percent.3
Eggs are among the most effective foods in any thermogenic weight loss program because they are packed with protein. Two medium-sized eggs contain nearly 14 grams of protein.4
That’s a large chunk of the protein you should get every day. The recommended daily amount of protein varies depending on several factors, including your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers an easy-to-use online tool to help you calculate exactly how much protein you should get in your daily diet. For example, a 50-year-old man who’s 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds needs about 55 grams of protein each day.5
You get the idea. Eggs have a lot of protein, and protein helps boost thermogenesis.
Eggs have had a bad reputation for years because of their high cholesterol content. However, eggs have actually been shown to help reduce the risk of heart problems.6 The protein in eggs can also increase metabolism, which plays a big role in weight loss.7
One study involved a group of participants who were separated into two groups. One group consumed three eggs for breakfast each day for an eight-week period. The other group ate bagels for breakfast. According to the results, the participants who ate eggs not only consumed 400 fewer calories each day, they also saw a 16 percent body fat reduction compared to those who ate bagels.8
Thermogenic Booster No. 2 – Oolong Tea and Green Tea
Caffeine is an ingredient in many foods and drinks that can also give the process of thermogenesis a kick-start. For example, you’ll not only find caffeine in cocoa and, of course, coffee, but also in a lot of soft drinks. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, and it also helps to increase the level of hormones that help burn fat.9
The problem with turning to some of the more plentiful sources of caffeine is that they’re loaded with sugar and calories. Eating candy bars, thinking they’re thermogenic foods, is not the way to go. You’d pack on so many calories, the thermogenic effect would be negated. The same is true for soft drinks.
Thankfully, there are much healthier alternatives. Beverages such as green tea not only contain caffeine, but polyphenols as well.
Polyphenols are compounds that have been shown to work together with caffeine to increase thermogenesis.
And oolong tea contains both of these powerful substances. Better yet? It doesn’t have any calories! According to one study, oolong tea can boost calorie burn by about 10 percent. And the results show that these effects can last up to two hours after consumption.10
Another study indicates that oolong tea can also help absorb fat. Two groups of people on a high-fat diet participated in the study. One group drank polyphenol-enriched oolong tea with each meal, while the other group did not. According to the results, participants who had the tea not only absorbed less fat, but also less cholesterol.11 Yet another study showed that oolong tea could help you burn an average of 70 calories each day.12 That doesn’t sound like much, but over the long run, it can really add up.
Green tea is another drink that has been shown to stimulate thermogenesis. Research indicates that green tea could boost thermogenesis by a significant amount.13 And, just like oolong tea, green tea also helps inhibit the absorption of fat.14
Thermogenic Booster No. 3 – Chili Peppers
Although not among the list of thermogenic foods per se, chili peppers can give some of your favorite dishes a bit of zip while helping to promote thermogenesis at the same time. Chili peppers, according to research, could help you not only achieve your weight loss goals, but it may also help keep you at a healthy weight. The active ingredient in chili peppers, capsaicin, plays a role in preventing overeating by making you feel full.15
When it comes to thermogenesis, research indicates that capsaicin can help you lose body fat through burning calories. In one study, researchers reduced the caloric intake of participants by 20 percent. This usually leads to a reduction in metabolism. But the researchers also added chili peppers to the participants’ meals. Doing so, according to the results, counteracted the participants’ metabolic slowdown.16
Can a Cold Environment Stimulate Thermogenesis?
If you don’t feel like adding thermogenic foods to your diet, some evidence exists that a colder environmental temperature might help you lose weight. This happens through a process known as cold-induced thermogenesis. Some scientists believe that being exposed to cold temperatures could help you drop pounds. The reason, they say, is that your body generates heat to maintain your core temperature in response to cold external temperatures.17
Researchers conducted a study to put the theory of cold-induced thermogenesis to the test. They looked at a group of people who had moved to Antarctica from California. The researchers found that the participants were able to consume 40 percent more calories each day without gaining any body fat. This means that they could have increased their caloric intake from 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day without putting on any weight.18
But you don’t have to go to this type of extreme in order to see benefits related to cold-induced thermogenesis. Another study showed that living in a room with the temperature set at 66°F (17°C) could help your body burn as much as 250 calories each day.19 Your electricity bill may take a huge jump if you try this at home, but you might lose a little weight as a result.
Wrapping it Up
There is significant scientific evidence that thermogenic foods could help you achieve your weight loss goals. There is even research that suggests a colder environment could help stimulate thermogenesis. But you should never begin any type of new dietary regimen without first talking to your doctor. Likewise, immersing yourself in a cold environment could result in health issues if you don’t get medical clearance.
Besides, do you really want to live in Antarctica?