Foods With High Thermic Effect

While there are no short foods to single-handedly make you shed the weight you want to lose, certain foods have natural metabolism-boosting or energy-enhancing properties over others. These are known as foods with a high thermic effect.

So if you’re hoping to lose weight or harness more pep in your steps, the following foods with a high thermic effect can help you achieve your goals when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise…

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Green Tea

You likely already expected green tea on this list of naturally metabolism-revving foods. OK, so it’s not technically a food, but a drink, you got me. However, this brew (along with green tea extract) is credited by numerous scientific studies with accelerating metabolism.

In addition to incorporating green tea into your weight loss efforts, 2012 research published by WebMD, found that the rich antioxidant content in an afternoon mug could help protect the body from disease-causing radicals, which have been linked to prostate and breast cancers.


Black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and even ground ginger have one very important thing in common—these spices are known to have a high thermic effect.

Most notably, a 2001 Canadian study, published by the National Institutes of Health, says the seedier and more pungent the spice—the better it is for energy increase. The study pointed out that participants who consumed meals seasoned with ground black pepper, powdered ginger, powdered onion, red pepper, and mustard seeds burned upwards of 1,000 additional calories per day!

Nuts and Seeds

According to animal studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin, consuming a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is a sure way to increase your metabolism and energy levels.

Scientists monitored the diets of lab mice and found that rodents who consumed greater amounts of omega-3’s had a higher metabolism due to lower levels of a hormone, known as leptin. Researchers noted in their findings that omega-3’s naturally help lower leptin, which in turn, leads to naturally faster metabolism.

Fatty Fish

Likewise, research conducted by the Mayo Clinic noted that a diet high in omega-3 rich fatty fish had similar effects on metabolism—and was also responsible for lowering levels of leptin in the human body.

The researchers recognized the link when studying African tribes whose diets were rich in fatty fish—like salmon and mackerel. Due to the fish-based diets, tribesmen and women reduced their leptin levels by up to 5-percent.

Hemp and Flaxseed Oil

Both of these touted super foods contain their fair share of energy-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, which can be of use if you don’t eat or don’t like fish.

Hemp oil and flaxseed oil can be incorporated into cooking, smoothies, and baking as healthy sources of essential fatty acids, which in addition to metabolism, are also great for skin, nails, and hair.

Hot Peppers

Like dried spices, raw and cooked hot peppers—such as cayenne, jalapeno, and habanero—can cause your metabolism to spike naturally. Just think about how hot you get under the collar when eating something spiced with these potent peppers.

In addition to quickening metabolism, a 2010 study from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology also credits hot peppers with reducing appetite cravings due to the rich capsaicin within. The capsaicin compound naturally speeds up both blood circulation and metabolic rate, which is exactly why you sweat when you eat hot wings or nachos seasoned with particularly hot peppers.


I know, you caught me twice—water isn’t a food either. However, if you drink water prior to eating and continuously throughout the day, you will notice more energy and an increased rate of fat burning.

A 2004 German study from Berlin’s Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center, and published by WebMD, linked water consumption—of at least 17-ounces of water per day—to increased metabolic rates of 30-percent for both males and females.


You likely already know that almonds are rich in calcium, a nutrient that’s long been associated with strengthening bones, but is now credited with weight control.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee, linked diets rich in calcium (between 1,200- and 1,300-milligrams daily) shed double the weight of those with low calcium diets.

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, limes, and lemons are all rich in vitamin C—studies have shown these fruits aid our fat burning efforts and boost metabolism. Diets rich in vitamin C ensure insulin balance, but more importantly reduce instances where insulin spikes and we crave carbohydrate-loaded snacks during our day.

A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research monitored the insulin levels of 84 patients with type 2 diabetes over a 6-week period. They discovered that those patients who took a 1,000-milligram supplement of vitamin C had fewer spikes in blood sugar—and slimmer waistlines.


If you’re looking for a lighter body mass, scientists at Penn State University suggest adding meals rich in liquids—like soups and stews—to your weekly diet.

According to research findings, a group of women who ate the hunger-satiating combo of liquids and solids, ate less, had fewer snack cravings, and increased their metabolism and fat burning abilities.

Whole Grains

Whole grains—or grains that retain all naturally-occurring nutrients from the bran, germ, and endosperm compared to stripped, refined grains—lead to higher metabolism because they stabilize insulin levels.

Research from Harvard’s School of Public Health, claims that diets rich in whole grains (i.e., quinoa, oats, and brown rice) ensure that carbohydrates are released slowly, to prevent spikes in blood sugar and hormone levels to regulate glucose in the blood, and associated snack attacks!

Dried Beans

No, I’m not suggesting you get Mexican takeout for dinner, especially not a meal focused on refried beans! Reach for dried red beans (i.e., kidney beans) instead and make your favorite and healthier Mexican-inspired meals at home.

Studies published by the National Institutes of Health show that the resistant starch in dried red beans naturally keeps insulin levels in check so you feel full for longer, are less prone to binge eating, and just naturally store less fat.


Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are a naturally sweet and juicy dessert or snack. However, berries are also rich in anthocyanins, water-soluble vacuolar pigments that encourage production of the hormone, adiponectin, and prevent the expansion of fat cells.

In addition, National Institutes of Health research shows that berries rich in the micronutrients, polyphenols, (i.e., raspberries and strawberries) reduce the body’s absorption of fats and starches, which can add up quickly and cause weight gain.


Garlic might scare your date away after a huge pizza or pasta dinner. However, a study from Ewha Womans University, in Seoul, Korea linked garlic to higher testosterone levels. If you weren’t aware, the testosterone hormone is closely related to energy production. And we all know that more energy means more time to be active, exercise, eat well, and maintain a healthy body weight.

The study fed a group of mice a rich fat diet for a period of 8-weeks. Once the mice gained weight, the researchers fed half the mice a garlic supplement for a period of 7-weeks. In the end, the mice that ate the garlic significantly reduced their body fat and overall body weight. Spoke to your doctor or dietitian before starting any supplements, it can interact with your medications or any preexisting conditions that you may have.

Say No to Sugar

One easy way to boost your metabolism and aid your weight loss efforts is to say no to foods and drinks high in refined sugar—such as candy, sodas, baked goods, processed snacks, and sugar-infused coffees and teas.

Instead, if you’re craving sweets, choose from the slides above to satisfy your sweet tooth naturally with apple slices or a bowl of berries.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.