10 Foods That Have a High Thermic Effect on the Body

foods that have a high thermic effect on the body

Struggling to boost your metabolism and manage your weight? One simple way to help your body burn more calories is by choosing the right foods. Foods that have a high thermic effect on the body can naturally increase your metabolism. These foods require more energy to digest, process, and store, which means you burn more calories even when you’re not working out.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best options to add to your diet, making it easier for you to reach your fitness goals. Let’s dive in and discover which foods can give your metabolism that extra boost!

What is the Thermic Effect of Food?

The thermic effect of food (TEF) refers to the amount of energy your body uses to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in the food you eat. This process increases your metabolic rate and can contribute to weight management and overall health. TEF accounts for approximately 10% of your total daily energy expenditure.

Various factors influence TEF, such as the composition of the food, meal size, and frequency of eating. Understanding TEF helps in making informed dietary choices that can boost your metabolism and enhance calorie burning.

10 Foods That Have a High Thermic Effect on the Body


Including foods with a high thermic effect in your diet can significantly boost your metabolism and help with weight management. These foods require more energy for digestion and metabolism, making them great choices for enhancing calorie burning. Here are some of the best options:

1. Protein-Rich Foods

Protein has the highest thermic effect compared to carbohydrates and fats, as it requires more energy for digestion and metabolism. Including protein-rich foods in your diet not only supports muscle growth and repair but also increases your metabolic rate. Here are some excellent high-protein foods to consider:

  • Lean meats: Chicken, turkey, and lean beef are excellent sources of protein, offering essential amino acids for muscle repair and maintenance.
  • Fish and seafood: Fish like salmon and tuna, and shellfish like shrimp, provide high-quality protein along with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a versatile and nutrient-dense option, rich in protein and other essential nutrients.
  • Dairy products: Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are not only high in protein but also contain probiotics that support gut health.
  • Plant-based proteins: Foods like tofu, tempeh, and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) offer plant-based protein options suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

2. Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which not only aids digestion but also increases the thermic effect of food. Fiber takes longer to break down, requiring more energy and promoting a feeling of fullness. Including a variety of fibrous vegetables in your meals can help boost your TEF. Consider adding these to your diet:

  • Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable is packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Spinach: Spinach is not only high in fiber but also provides iron and other essential nutrients.
  • Kale: Another nutrient-dense leafy green, kale is excellent for increasing your fiber intake.
  • Brussels sprouts: These mini cabbages are fiber-rich and can be roasted, steamed, or sautéed.
  • Carrots: Carrots are versatile, fiber-rich, and a great source of beta-carotene.

3. Whole Grains

Whole grains have a higher thermic effect than refined grains because they contain more fiber and nutrients. They take longer to digest, which means your body uses more energy to break them down. Incorporating whole grains into your diet can enhance your metabolic rate and provide sustained energy. Here are some whole grains to include:

  • Quinoa: This gluten-free grain is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
  • Brown rice: A nutritious alternative to white rice, brown rice is higher in fiber and minerals.
  • Oats: Oats are not only high in fiber but also contain beta-glucan, which can improve cholesterol levels.
  • Whole wheat products: Whole wheat bread, pasta, and cereals offer more fiber and nutrients compared to their refined counterparts.

4. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods, particularly those containing capsaicin, can temporarily boost your metabolism by increasing your body’s heat production. Capsaicin is a compound found in chili peppers that has been shown to enhance calorie burning and fat oxidation. Adding a bit of spice to your meals can help elevate your TEF. Here are some spicy foods to try:

  • Chili peppers: Fresh or dried, chili peppers add a kick to your dishes and boost your metabolism.
  • Jalapeños: These peppers provide heat and flavor, perfect for salsas, salads, and more.
  • Cayenne pepper: A popular spice in many cuisines, cayenne pepper can be added to soups, stews, and marinades.

5. Green Tea and Coffee

Green tea and coffee are well-known for their metabolism-boosting properties, thanks to their caffeine content and antioxidants. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, increasing energy expenditure and fat burning.

Additionally, green tea contains catechins, which work synergistically with caffeine to enhance TEF. Incorporating these beverages into your daily routine can provide a metabolic boost.

6. Healthy Fats

While fats generally have a lower thermic effect than proteins and carbohydrates, certain healthy fats can still support metabolism and overall health. Including healthy fats in your diet helps keep you full longer and provides essential fatty acids that your body needs. Some healthy fats to consider are:

  • Avocado: Rich in monounsaturated fats, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals, avocado is a nutritious choice.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
  • Olive oil: A staple in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

7. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods not only support gut health but also can have a positive effect on your metabolism. The probiotics in fermented foods help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which is linked to improved digestion and energy expenditure. Adding these foods to your diet can help boost TEF. Examples include:

  • Kimchi: This spicy Korean side dish is made from fermented vegetables and is rich in probiotics.
  • Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage that adds a tangy flavor to meals and supports gut health.
  • Kefir: A fermented dairy product that is high in probiotics and can be enjoyed as a drink or in smoothies.
  • Kombucha: A fermented tea that provides probiotics and a refreshing, slightly tangy taste.

8. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are not only refreshing but also can boost your metabolism due to their high vitamin C content. Vitamin C plays a role in fat metabolism, and the fiber in these fruits can increase TEF. Including citrus fruits in your diet can provide a metabolic boost and support overall health. Some citrus fruits to add are:

  • Oranges: A great source of vitamin C and fiber, perfect for a healthy snack or addition to salads.
  • Lemons: Can be used in cooking, squeezed into water, or added to teas for a refreshing flavor and metabolic boost.
  • Grapefruits: Known for their weight loss benefits, grapefruits are rich in antioxidants and fiber.
  • Limes: Adds a zesty flavor to dishes and drinks while providing vitamin C and other nutrients.

9. Berries

Berries are not only delicious but also packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Their high fiber content helps increase TEF and supports overall digestion. Including a variety of berries in your diet can boost your metabolism and provide numerous health benefits. Consider these berries:

  • Blueberries: High in antioxidants and fiber, blueberries are great for snacking or adding to cereals and smoothies.
  • Strawberries: A sweet and fiber-rich berry that can be enjoyed fresh, in desserts, or as a topping for yogurt.
  • Raspberries: These berries are high in fiber and vitamin C, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.
  • Blackberries: Rich in vitamins and minerals, blackberries are perfect for snacking or adding to salads and desserts.

10. Water

Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining an efficient metabolism. Drinking water, especially cold water, can temporarily boost TEF as your body works to warm the water to body temperature. Proper hydration also supports overall health and energy levels. To stay hydrated:

  • Drink water regularly: Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and support your metabolism.
  • Incorporate water-rich foods: Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and celery can also help keep you hydrated.

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