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Can Thermogenic Foods Help You Burn More Fat?

Avocado, grapefruit, and orange slices on a plate.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were foods that could satisfy your hunger and help you burn fat simultaneously? Well, that’s precisely what’s so captivating about thermogenic foods. But are they as effective as they seem?

Shedding unwanted pounds is not exactly a walk in the park, which is why we’re often tempted to try fad diets that promise to help us on our quest. Although it’s not new, the thermogenic diet has recently found its way back into the spotlight. This isn’t surprising given it claims to help you boost your metabolism and burn fat without restricting your eating habits.

While there is a shred of truth in the claim, the reality is a bit more complex. Let’s dive deeper and find out more about the thermogenic diet.

What Exactly Is a Thermogenic Diet?

Thermogenesis is the process through which the body burns calories to generate energy. The two main ways it does this are through the maintenance of basic metabolic functions and physical activity. However, the process can also be initiated via the consumption of thermogenic foods.

Thermogenic foods contain unique components that boost metabolism, essentially helping the body burn calories. The most popular are hot peppers, which contain capsaicin, and black pepper, which contains piperine.

These highly thermogenic substances can fire up your digestive process and cause you to burn calories at a higher rate. Lentils are also thermogenic, as they contain resistant starch, which benefits digestion and helps curb hunger.

The Thermogenic Diet: Learn how food can do the hard work of weight loss

Have more questions about the thermogenic diet? This book by an accredited dietitian has the answers.

Thus, unlike the typical elimination diet, this regimen is less restrictive. Rather, it calls for incorporating the right foods into your diet to promote fat loss—-or at least, that’s the idea.

Can a Thermogenic Diet Help You Burn More Fat?

A woman holding half of a grapefruit with her legs dangling in a pool.
Mauricio Cetina/Shutterstock.com

The claims related to the benefits of eating thermogenic foods are numerous, and they mainly focus on their metabolism-boosting and fat-burning abilities.

Although the compounds in these foods can, indeed, support a healthy metabolism, they can’t exactly induce rapid weight loss. This is actually just another case of “too good to be true.”

In a recent study, researchers analyzed the effectiveness of thermogenic supplements compared to diet and exercise for weight loss. Unfortunately for all of us, they found no significant difference between the two methods.

These results make sense when you consider that the amount of thermogenic components contained in natural foods are so small, you would need to eat large volumes of them before they would have any notable impact on your body.

For example, chili is thermogenic, but can you imagine eating tons of it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Yeah, probably not. Fat-burning aside, though, there are still valid reasons to include thermogenic foods in your diet.

Boost Your Metabolism with These Foods

A woman having an omelet and coffee at an outdoor cafe.

While no one food can help you lose weight as well as an overall healthy diet and exercise routine, there are a few that can make the mission a bit easier. Some can help you by suppressing your hunger, others can make you feel fuller faster. The list even includes a couple of metabolism-boosting supplements for you to consider if you’re not a fan of these foods.


If you’ve ever heard of the grapefruit diet (aka, the Hollywood diet), you know that grapefruit has enough benefits to deserve a spot on your plate. The biggest selling point of this bittersweet fruit is its high content of soluble fiber. It takes the body longer to digest this, which makes grapefruit both a treat and a mild appetite suppressant.

It’s also rich in water and nutrients, which can make you feel full, and thus, cause you to consume fewer calories. If you’re a fan, try having half a grapefruit before one or multiple meals every day. Your teeth might not exactly enjoy the acidity, but your waistline might love it!


Someone slicing an avocado on a cutting board.

Does anyone really need any convincing to eat more mashed avo on the reg? As if being a creamy delight wasn’t enough, avocados also contain monounsaturated fats that can stimulate fat-burning hormones in the body.

It might sound counterintuitive, but that’s just how the body works. No complaints there, right?

Additionally, avocados are rich in soluble fiber and calorie-dense, which means they can benefit your gut and leave you satiated for a while. You’ll likely forget all about food while they work their way through your digestive system.


Scrambled, poached, or boiled, you can enjoy eggs however you like them, and they’ll still be the
perfect addition to any diet. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also rich in high-quality protein that can help curb your appetite and build lean muscle.

They’re also full of highly beneficial nutrients, like omega-3s and vitamin D, making them even more valuable as an item on your list of healthy foods.

As far as easy dietary supplementation goes, it’s tough to beat the humble egg. They’re packed with nutrients, inexpensive, and you can prepare them in so many ways.

Green Tea or Supplements

two-fold image of green tea extract supplements by Pure tea with a product shot on the left and an overhead shot of an open bottle laying flat on a white surface with capsules next to it as well as a glass of water with mint

Green tea is a popular thermogenetic food. It stimulates your metabolism and promotes fat burning.

The two substances that grant these qualities are caffeine and catechins, which enhance each other’s effects in boosting thermogenesis. In other words, green tea combines two of the most potent stimulants for calorie burning, so you definitely want to incorporate it into your diet. If you love green tea you can drink it frequently to get the benefits of the compounds found within.

If you don’t love green tea all that much or you’re not sure drinking cup after cup of it fits with your lifestyle, you can still reap all its benefits by taking a supplement.

Warning: It’s always best to speak to your physician before taking any supplements.

Green Tea Extract

Don't care for tea? No problem---there's a supplement for that.

Pre-workout powders with caffeine are designed to provide your with the jolt of energy you need to maximize your workout, helping you push harder and, as a result, burn more calories. Pre-workout powders come in many flavors and they’re easy to consume on the go—all your need is a bit of water to mix it and you’re good to go!

Warning: Again, as caffeine is a stimulant and can affect everyone differently, it’s always best to consult your physician before taking it as a supplement.

Unfortunately, no diet can perform miracles. However, the foods we mentioned here can make achieving your weight loss goals a bit easier by helping you burn excess calories. Just remember, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep and hydration will always be the best, and healthiest, way to lose weight.

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »
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