Top 5 list of Thermic Foods That Speed Up Your Metabolism

Beauty isn’t measured in “lbs” but fitness surely is! This being said, let us discuss the list of thermic foods that will aid in healthy weight management.

You’ve certainly heard your fair share of bizarre weight-loss advice over the years, whether it’s to drink celery juice every day or to replace your meals with weight loss “baked goods.”

And, all too often, those recommendations come from individuals with no medical background! Aren’t you tired of it now?

If your hunt is for foods to help you lose or maintain your body weight, then you have stumbled upon the right blog! In this article, we will be looking for foods that can improve your metabolism, i.e. Thermic foods.

What are Thermic Foods?

Processed meals have become nearly impossible to avoid in the modern world, which may contribute to the upsurge in obesity. Unhealthy is the new healthy for some!

As a result, a lot of people are looking for efficient weight-loss strategies like anabolic fasting or peptides for weight loss.

Certain foods can help modestly increase your metabolic rate. That’s the calories burned by your body. This is known as the concept of “thermic foods” or simply call them “foods that increase metabolism and burn fat”.

If losing body fat or preventing excess weight gain is your objective, including such nutrient-dense foods may make it slightly simpler.

They work in tandem with a well-balanced, moderate calorie-restricted diet to aid weight loss. 

What is the Thermic Effect of Food?

The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), is the increase in basal metabolic rate (BMR) associated with the energy expended for the digestion, absorption, and processing of food for storage [1].

Some of the calories are lost as heat. Simply explained, TEF is the quantity of energy required by the body to digest and metabolize meals.

However, not all foods require the same energy expenditure. The amount of energy you spend on metabolism is partially determined by what you eat. That is why people who want to know how to burn fat efficiently turn to thermic foods.

Food cannot burn fat on its own. Instead, whether and to what extent food may be considered to boost diet-induced thermogenesis is determined by the energy used to digest and absorb it [2].

The TEF accounts for around 10% of the calorie intake of healthy individuals who consume a typical mixed-macronutrient diet, but your exact number will vary depending on various factors, including your age, mealtime, and macronutrient balance (carbs, fat, and protein) of your meal [2].

Thermic Effect of Food and its Relation with Insulin:

Insulin is a hormone produced by the body that helps control blood sugar levels by transporting glucose into cells and releasing energy. Insulin’s effect is complicated by the fact that it also serves as a fat-storage hormone, making it a two-edged sword.

In terms of the TEF, what does this indicate? Because insulin inhibits lipolysis (fat breakdown), diets that increase insulin release will naturally lead to increased fat storage [3].

However, it’s important to remember that the body’s production of insulin is a normal function, and that weight gain is usually caused by an energy surplus.

However, your body is programmed to use that food first and mainly for energy, with the “surplus” being stored as fat.

Thermic Effect of Food and Weight Loss:

When it comes to weight loss, there are no secret pills or tactics that will make the process go faster for people.

When it comes to energy balance, the most vital point is to consume the same number of calories or fewer than you burn off.

Besides how many calories you consume, “how many calories you burn” is the question!

The kind of food we eat, our meal sizes, our body mass, and how active we are, all play a major role in weight management.

Rather than focusing too much on the TEF of different foods, it’s best to pick foods that supply our bodies with the fuel they need to support a healthy lifestyle.

When you eat food, the fat in the body gets stored and not burned! Therefore, to burn this fat, energy expenditure is required. Simply put, physical activity is very important!

Factors Influencing the TEF:

Most people make the mistake of believing that the quantity of a meal takes the same amount of energy for digestion regardless of who is eating it, which isn’t the case.

Our bodies react differently in different situations, therefore, something that has benefitted one may not prove beneficial for the other.

Below mentioned are the factors to keep in mind that influence the TEF:

Weight :

People with obesity or insulin resistance are thought to have a slowed TEF response (which can be caused by excess body fat). 

Although the changes are slight, they might accumulate over time and have an impact on the TEF.

Age :

Because of variations in digestive capacities and decreased nervous activity, TEF may be much lower in older adults.

A decrease in the thermic effect of food, which has been documented in older people in varying degrees, could lead to fat gain [4].

Composition of the meal:

The composition of your meal can impact how significant the thermic effect of food is. 

Since fat does not affect TEF, meals comprising carbohydrates and proteins require more energy to digest.

Size of the meal:

Portion management is essential because it allows you to keep track of how many calories you’re likely to consume. 

This way, instead of aimlessly overeating, you only eat the right amount of what your body requires [5].

Experiments have revealed that when a given quantity of calories is ingested as a single meal rather than spread out over several smaller meals over a longer period of time, the thermic effect of food is stronger.

Frequency of the meal:

There’s a theory that eating smaller, more frequent meals helps with weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolism [6].

Physical Activity:

While there is no consensus whether physical activity increases or decreases TEF, it is evident that it affects energy expenditure. 

According to a study, the confounding effects of muscle mass, physical fitness, and insulin resistance may change TEF in physically trained individuals [7].

Good sleep :

Sleep is intertwined with the body’s hormonal and metabolic functions, and it’s crucial for maintaining metabolic homeostasis. 

Sleep deprivation and sleep disturbances have been shown in studies to have significant metabolic consequences [8].

Top 5 Foods With High Thermic Effect:

There is no secret to burning fat faster. It is determined by what you eat as well as your level of physical activity.

Below listed are some foods that can be incorporated into the diet to boost metabolism.

High protein foods:

Protein has been seen in studies to temporarily enhance metabolism by 15-30%.

This can aid in general weight management and fat loss. Lean meat, eggs, wild salmon, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are examples of high protein foods [9].

Consuming protein can also help you develop muscle tissue. Protein might also help you feel fuller for extended durations.

One study found that a high-protein diet consisting of turkey, cottage cheese, tuna, and egg whites doubled thermogenesis even three hours after eating, compared to a high-carbohydrate meal [10].

Complete proteins, such as lean meats, eggs, and fish, provide all twenty essential amino acids [9].

These amino acids can also be obtained by combining plant-based proteins.

Dairy-based proteins, such as cheese, yogurt, and kefir, as well as wild salmon, can be excellent calcium sources.

It appears that eating protein can aid in preventing a decrease in metabolism later in life by keeping your muscle mass intact.

Sweet potato:

Sweet potatoes have been praised for their nutritious content for a long time.

These complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and include several vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene and potassium.

They do, however, have a considerable thermic effect.

Insulin resistance and blood sugar levels have both been markedly reduced by sweet potatoes [11].


Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas, among examples, are high in both fiber and protein.

These carbohydrates hold several proteins and fiber, which implies you’ll need to burn extra calories to digest them [12].

Beans and legumes have fibers that take longer to break down, resulting in lower insulin spikes and total sugar levels.

They can also promote the feeding of healthy bacteria in your stomach, which aids in the production of short-chain fatty acids.

These fatty acids contribute to the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels and the utilization of fat reserves for energy [13, 5].


Turmeric has a long list of health benefits. It has been used as a spice and a medicinal herb in India for centuries. 

Science has recently begun to support traditional assertions that turmeric contains components that have therapeutic qualities [14].

Curcuminoids are the name for these components. Turmeric’s major active component is curcumin. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is also an antioxidant.

It’s now widely recognized as a spice that can help increase metabolism. 

The main ingredient in turmeric i.e. curcumin has been related to the expression of adiponectin, a hormone that aids in blood sugar regulation and fat cell breakdown [15, 16].

Green Tea:

Green tea is often regarded as one of the world’s healthiest refreshments.

It’s high in antioxidants, which provide numerous health benefits. Green tea has been shown in studies to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels [17].

Given that green tea can temporarily increase metabolic rate, it makes it possible that it could aid weight loss.

Green tea has been shown in several trials to aid in the reduction of body fat, particularly in the stomach area. 

Some studies have found that green tea does not cause a significant uptick in weight reduction, therefore more research is needed to investigate this benefit [18].

Oils with High Thermic Effect:

Coconut oil:

Coconut oil is beneficial to more than just your skin and hair. It’s also a food with a high TEF! MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are abundant in coconut oil. 

MCT oil is swiftly converted to energy by the liver, and it is much less likely to store fat in the body.

Furthermore, MCT oil can be included in a weight loss plan without fear of interfering with metabolic complications [19].

This is not to deny that coconut oil is still high in calories and that too much of it might throw off your energy balance. Hence, limiting its intake can help.

Olive oil:

As part of the Mediterranean Diet, which is one of the healthiest eating patterns, olive oil is a mainstay of the diet.

Olive oil is particularly beneficial for heart health because of the types of fat it contains.

Inflammatory properties have been demonstrated with omega-3 fatty acids in olive oil. 

Two hours after eating a dish, individuals who enjoyed a meal with olive oil had greater thermogenic levels and more fat loss than those who consumed a meal with cream [20].

How to Measure TEF?

Scientists estimate food’s thermic effect in a laboratory. This is because TEF can only be determined under controlled conditions. Comparing calories burnt in a fed versus a fasted state is the optimum technique to measure TEF.

TEF can be measured in a variety of ways, as shown in the table below. In a laboratory or clinical context, these measurements require specialized equipment and skilled staff.

Confinement System 1-48
Metabolic Chamber 2-48
Respiratory Chamber 1-100
Ventilated Hood/ Canopy 0.2-6
Isotope Dilution 48-240

Other ways to revive up your metabolism:

To lose weight, you need to increase your metabolism, but how quickly your body burns calories relies on several factors. Some people are just born with a high metabolism. Others are born with a slow metabolism.

Listed below are some other strategies to revive your metabolism:

Workout :

Aerobic activity can speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. You must push yourself as hard as you can if you want to succeed. 

Compared to low- or moderate-intensity activities, high-intensity workouts cause a larger and longer rise in resting metabolic rate. Try a more intensive session at the gym or incorporate brief bursts of jogging into your daily walks to reap the benefits.


To metabolize calories, your body requires water. Your metabolism can slow down if you are even marginally dehydrated. 

Drink a glass of water or another unsweetened beverage before each meal and snack to stay hydrated.

Smart Snacking:

Ever heard that eating food more often can help you reduce weight? Isn’t it weirdly satisfying to hear that?

But yes! It is true! Eating more frequently can assist you in losing weight. When you eat heavy meals with long gaps between them, your metabolism slows down. 

Having a little meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours can help you avoid overeating, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Black Coffee:

If you are a coffee addict, you probably enjoy the energy and cognitive benefits. When consumed in moderation, one of coffee’s perks may be a short-term increase in metabolic rate. 

Caffeine can make you feel less exhausted and possibly improve your stamina when exercising [21].

Sufficient Sleep:

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a significant rise in the risk of obesity [22].

This could be partly due to the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism.

Sleep deprivation has also been connected to elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes [8].

It has also been shown to increase ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decrease leptin, the satiety hormone [24].

You should also drink plenty of water because being hydrated will help you lose weight and lower your BMI.

Wrapping Up:

Many foods have been shown to have a high thermic effect, which means they use a lot of energy during digestion and absorption.

A healthy diet is essential for controlling metabolism, which is why thermic foods are included.  However, you must keep in mind that simply eating thermic meals will not increase your metabolism to the desired level. 

Seek a steady reduction in calories and eat mostly unprocessed meals,  for effective, long-term weight loss and maintenance.


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