Weight loss is a challenge, there's no doubt about it. As you know, losing weight takes a strategized combination of both daily exercise and a great diet, but there's a common misconception that the more important aspect of those two is exercise.
While it's true that exercise plays a key part in getting in shape, the truth is that eating right is actually far more critical when it comes to reaching your goal number on the scale...which brings us to the issue at hand. Wouldn't it be nice if the food you ate was actually helping you lose weight?
With the enormous variety of unhealthy foods being produced these days, it's hard to believe that such foods exist. Fortunately, they do. They're called thermogenic foods. Thermogenesis is basically a fancy word for fat-burning; it's a completely natural event where the body literally burns calories in order to process certain nutrients within a food. When it comes to weight loss diets, these foods are like a dream come true. In this article, I'm going to walk you through a few of the most popular thermogenic food types to help you craft a calorie-fighting diet that will work for you rather than against you.
As you've probably heard more times than you can count, protein is essential when it comes to fitness. It's most popular for its role in building muscle; however, what most people don't realize is that lean proteins are also excellent at inducing thermogenesis (the fat-burning process we talked about above). In fact, proteins have the highest thermogenic effect out of any other nutrient, requiring nearly 30% of the calories it contains just for digestion and processing!
That means if you eat a small chicken breast that contains 300 calories, your body is going to turn right around and burn 90 of those calories just to break it down and digest it! The next closest nutrient is carbohydrates which require about 7% of their calories for processing, followed by fats which require a measly 3%.
As you can see, protein is like the holy grail when it comes to fitness nutrients. Not only does it help build muscle, but it naturally burns calories better than any other food group, and an added benefit when it comes to the goal of weight loss is that protein helps suppress your appetite so you feel fuller for longer and don't get any tempting cravings before your next meal.
A couple of great examples of lean protein are foods like chicken breast, turkey breast, fish & seafood (pretty much all types), and egg whites. Think white meats, not red meats. If you haven't been eating these types of foods often, I highly recommend incorporating them into your daily meals. You'll feel an immediate difference in your daily energy, and this will help get (and keep) you in shape more than any other type of food.
Growing up, my grandmother always told me that I should eat spicy foods often because they "kill off all the germs inside you." Now, whether they actually do that is still up for debate, but one thing we do now is that spicy foods are great for roasting calories. The literal definition for the term thermogenesis is, "the production of heat, especially in the body." Well, what's the number one thing you think of when you think of food and heat? Hot peppers.
That's right, spices like the ones found inside hot peppers greatly help stimulate that natural fat-burning process in the body. Other popular foods in this category are black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, or turmeric. While spicy foods aren't for everybody, they can be a very helpful addition to any healthy diet for the numerous benefits they offer. Try them raw or cooked for some fun ways to mix things up.
More specifically green tea, actually. If you're even remotely into health and nutrition, you've read about all of the benefits of green tea. It's loaded with all kinds of antioxidants and nutrients that improve your health, and has even been found to improve brain function. The health benefits of green tea are far better than nearly any other drink on the planet, which leads me to the next benefit: weight loss!
One of the antioxidants in green tea extract, called catechins, has been found to trigger thermogenesis in the body, thus resulting in more calories burned and reduced body fat. There are numerous brands that offer green tea, so visit your local market or do some research online to figure out which brand you like most. At the end of the day, each of their teas are going to accomplish the same thing, so it just depends on your personal preference.
Now that we've gone through some of the most popular thermogenic food types, get out there and start working these into your diet so that you can see the results! As with any weight loss journey, don't expect results to happen overnight, but know that your foods are now working with you to reach your ultimate goal: a healthy body.
Cole is a fitness expert who has nearly 10 years of experience with weight lifting and nutrition. After going through a radical transformation gaining over 50 pounds of natural lean muscle using nothing but a clean diet and a strict workout regimen, he now enjoys writing about health and fitness to help others achieve their goals in a natural way too. Check out more of his work at his personal website HomeGymr.