Written by Anne Trueman, M.A | 

Article Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team on Feb 16, 2016


Thermogenic foods promote thermogenesis, a process that is concerned with heat production in the warm-blooded animals.

The role of thermogenesis is to maintain the temperature of body so that it can function optimally.

Human body utilizes most of its calories (energy) in maintaining normal metabolic functions such as ingestion, digestion, and essential processes such as heart beat, respiration, brain activity and regular physical activity. There are three types of thermogenesis. The first one is exercise induced thermogenesis in which the muscles are heated up with physical activity or exercise to function more effectively. Another type of thermogenesis is the Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) which includes generating heat through shivering. The third type is the diet induced thermogenesis (DIT) where the production of heat occurs after eating.

DIT is also called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It increases energy expenditure by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system to cause enhanced metabolic activity. Diet- induced thermogenesis takes up about 10 percent of the calories.

Here, is a list of thermogenic foods or foods that enhance thermogenesis. Since these foods have high fiber content and are low in calories, therefore, such foods play an important role in weight loss.


Black or red hot peppers are the best example of thermogenic food. They induce a feeling of fullness and satiate your appetite. Eating peppers can help you shed those extra pounds.

Hot peppers contain capsaicin, a pungent flavored substance that enhances thermogenesis. So, you should eat a lot of spicy meal to get in good shape.

Piperine is another important thermogenic substance. Found in black peppers it promotes thermogenesis by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.

Green Tea

Studies have revealed that green tea contains two important chemicals - polyphenols called the catechins and caffeine. Both these chemicals are known to encourage thermogenesis.

Besides these two chemicals, green tea is also rich in catechin known as epigallocatechin gallate, a chemical that boosts the process of thermogenesis.

Coconut Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) retard the accumulation of fat in the body and these are present in considerable amount in coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore promotes thermogenesis. A British study found that Ďadding chilli and MCT (coconut oil) to meals increases DIT by over 50 percent which over time may cumulate to help induce weight loss and prevent weight gain or regainí.

Protein Foods

Protein-rich diet is known to enhance thermogenic process as compared to high-fat or high carbohydrate diets. For example, research shows that there is a 6 to 8 percent increase in energy expenditure with carbohydrate meals, 3 percent increase with fat, and a whopping 25 to 40 percent with protein based meals.


Consuming ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, glucose-sensitizing, and stimulatory effects on the gastrointestinal tract. And a study published in the journal Metabolism has suggested that consuming a breakfast with 2 g ginger powder dissolved in a hot water beverage enhanced thermogenesis and promoted satiety and thereby has a potential role in weight management.

TEF is influenced by meal size, meal composition, the nature of the previous diet, insulin resistance, physical activity, and ageing, so a properly planned and executed diet could help with weight loss. If you want to tread the road to losing weight, then thermogenic foods can help you achieve your goal.


  1. Diet Induced Thermogenesis - (http://www.ncsf.org/pdf/ceu/diet_induced
  2. Combined medium-chain triglyceride and chilli feeding increases diet-induced thermogenesis in normal-weight humans - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23179202 )
  3. Onset of the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF): a randomized cross-over trial - (http://www.jissn.com/content/4/1/24#B2)
  4. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22538118)
  5. Thermic Effect of Food in Lean and Obese Men - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/

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