We’re about halfway into 2018, and if you’re like most of us, you’re still working on making that New Year’s weight-loss resolution work. But how should you go about doing it?
If you want to lose weight, you need to be taking in fewer calories than your body is using. Essentially every weight-loss program (or at least every effective weight-loss program) is based on the the idea of creating a sustainable calorie deficit — either by increasing calorie burn, decreasing calorie intake, or a combination of both. After all, it’s simple mathematics.
But what if you’ve been leaving out a key variable?
Thermogenesis is the process by which your body generates heat. You’re an endothermic organism, and that means that your body works hard to maintain a constant internal temperature, regardless of what the weather outside may be doing. But like any heater, your body requires fuel to move the mercury, and that fuel is calories.
So, it stands to reason that if you could harness your body’s heat production, you could effectively increase your calorie burn and boost your weight-loss efforts. This is the idea behind thermogenic diets.
The Best Thermogenic Foods
There’s obviously more to therogenisis than just turning up the heat. Your body temperature incorporates a number of different factors. Some of those factors operate independently, meaning that you have no control over them. Others are a bit more manageable.
Consider your diet.
Different foods generate different thermogenic responses. Whenever you eat anything, it takes energy (again, calories) to transform that food into something you can metabolize. Have you ever heard that it takes more calories to digest a stalk of celery than you get from eating one? Well, that’s actually a myth (a stalk of celery gives you about six calories but takes only three calories to digest, netting you three calories total), but the basic principles are sound. There are certain foods, particularly lean proteins, that take a lot more energy to metabolize, making your body work harder for the energy it takes in, and helping cut back on your overall calorie gain.
As such, the best thermogenic diets are those that put heavy focus on thermogenic foods while avoiding certain other foods, such as those that are high on the glycemic index.
Thermogenic foods include celery (yes, even if it doesn’t really burn more calories than it delivers), tumeric, garlic, coconut oil, green tea, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, chilli peppers, and salmon. Of course, if you limit your food intake to just these specific options, you’re likely to end up dangerously malnourished — with the exception of salmon most of these have negligible nutritional benefits. That’s why you should be supplementing your thermogenic foods with low-glycemic foods such as seafood, eggs, cheese, and especially lean proteins.
Protein has the most noticeable impact on thermogenesis of the three macronutrient categories (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats). If you build your meals to include servings of lean protein, then you can more easily incorporate thermogenic foods in a way that sustains your body while burning off excess calories.
Thermogenic Fat Burner Options
If you want the best thermogenic results, you may need to supplement your diet with fat burners. The term thermogenic fat burner usually refers to stimulants that are designed to briefly boost your metabolism. The idea is that when combined with thermogenic foods, these burners will increase your body’s resting calorie-burn rate.
Male and female fat burner supplements are easy enough to incorporate into your regular routine. However, if you’re considering over-the-counter fat burner capsules, be aware that there are potentially dangerous side effects that you may be getting with them. It’s always best to get your doctor’s informed opinion before incorporating weight loss drugs into your diet.
The good news is that more-natural fat burners are available. Caffeine is one of the most effective, helping decrease appetite while also boosting your metabolism. Green tea (which also includes caffeine) incorporates catechins (which have a similar thermogenic effect as caffeine) and is another popular choice. Other thermogenic fat burner ingredients include capsaicin, carnitine, chromium, conjugated, forskolin, fucoxanthin, kelp, and linoleic acid. Alternatively, packaged fat burner supplements that rely on natural ingredients (like Progenex Burn) can offer a best-of-both-worlds scenario — the convenience of supplements without the potential dangers.
Whatever the case, try to take the burner regularly along with your meals. Additionally, recognize that any stimulates taken in the evening could have a detrimental effect on your sleeping schedule.
Back to Counting Those Calories
Like we said before, weight loss always comes back to calories in vs. calories out. But with thermogenic diets, less isn’t always more. The thermic effect increases as you consume more calories, so a higher calorie diet will actually lead to more calories being burned. However, that boost isn’t generally very significant, and you may end up taking in significantly more calories than you’re burning (even if you burning those calories more efficiently).
On the other hand, if you pull back too far on your calorie intake, it could end up leading to a substantial drop in thermogenesis in your body. What you’ve got, then, is something of a tightrope walk when it comes to calorie intake.
You can ensure that you maintain a proper balance by eating your recommended daily amount of calories and then focusing on thermogenic foods coupled with exercise to help you reach a calorie deficit. As long as you’re eating the right foods, avoiding the wrong ones, controlling your portions, and exercising regularly you should start to see results relatively quickly.
Turn up the Heat
Thermogenic diets can help you achieve your weight goals, but they’re not the miracle solution some try to make them out to be. On their own, even the best thermogenic foods are unlikely to make any significant differences to your overall weight. On the other hand, when combined with a dependable exercise routine and the right number of calories, thermogenic diets really can lead to noticeable results.
So, why not dedicate the second half of 2018 to dropping those extra pounds? With the right thermogenic diet and exercise program, you can turn up the heat on the calories that have been keeping you down.