Weight Management 6 MIN READ 134 VIEWS July 30, 2022

What is Thermogenesis? How Does It Help in Weight Loss?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

What is Thermogenesis

Thermogenesis is the increased heat produced by the body. It is either a mechanism to maintain body temperature or happens in response to food intake as heat is the normal by-product of all metabolic activities. Thermogenesis is the process of dissipation of energy as heat. It happens within the specialised tissues of the body namely brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscles and leads to the rise in the core body temperature. Wondering what is thermogenesis meant to do in your weight loss journey? Read on.

Types of Thermogenesis

The thermogenic process can be classified into three categories depending on whether or not it has been initiated through locomotion and intentional movement of the muscles. These are:

Exercise-Associated Thermogenesis (EAT): This refers to the number of calories burnt purposefully to break into a sweat or increase core body temperature. It is related to sporting activities.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): This refers to the energy expended for everyday activities which do not include sporting activities. 

Diet-Induced Thermogenesis (DIT): This refers to the energy dissipated as heat after a meal. It is also called the ‘thermic effect of food’.

Thermogenesis can also be categorised as follows:

Shivering Thermogenesis: It is the body’s response to sudden exposure to cold. It is driven by the body’s somatomotor system and occurs in skeletal muscles. As the skeletal muscles begin to contract rapidly, they generate heat which raises the body’s core temperature.

Non-Shivering Thermogenesis: it is defined as an increase in metabolic heat production – not associated with muscle activity. It largely occurs through the metabolism of brown fats.

What is Thermogenesis Supposed to Do for Weight Loss?

As thermogenesis is the process of expending heat, it plays a crucial role in weight loss. Thermogenesis helps generate heat by burning calories. These calories, if left unburnt, accumulate as fat, causing weight gain. Thus, combining thermogenesis with a healthy diet and regular exercise can prove to be an effective way to burn body fat.

Factors Affecting Natural Thermogenesis

The main factors that affect the body’s thermogenesis rate are:

1. Diet and Nutrition

The food we eat directly affects the rate of thermogenesis. For instance, macronutrients like proteins take longer to digest, implying that more calories are burnt to digest them. Some foods, however, are naturally thermogenic as they increase the heat loss in the body. Including thermogenic foods in daily diet can increase the rate at which the body fats are burnt. Scientific studies reveal that thermogenic foods can increase metabolic activity by up to 5%. This can translate to 15% extra burning of body fats. This must, however, be supported by a healthy diet and exercise.

2. Activity Levels

Exercise leads to muscle movement. As the muscles contract and expand, calories are burnt in the process. The energy produced is converted into kinetic energy and heat energy. Thus, as the frequency and intensity of exercise increase, more calories are burnt to fuel the activity, leading to heat loss and weight loss. 

3. External Environment

The body responds to the external environment and adjusts to the temperature variations by undergoing the process of thermogenesis. As the temperatures fluctuate, the receptor cells transmit signals to the brain. The brain then signals the skeletal muscles to stimulate vigorously, as seen during shivering. As the muscles move rapidly, they produce heat during the process which raises the body’s core temperature.

How to Use Thermogenesis to Your Advantage?

Thermogenesis burns calories to produce heat. The process leads to the creation of a negative energy balance which is directly linked to weight loss. Thus, including activities and thermogenic foods in your daily routine can increase the heat production in the body. This can prove to be an effective way to lose weight.

What is Thermogenesis - tip

Top Thermogenic Foods That Help Burn Fat Quickly

Thermogenic food boosts metabolism. This leads to more burning of body fat in less time. Listed below are the top thermogenic foods that can help you burn more fat, quickly. These are:

1. Caffeine 

Caffeine is a natural stimulant. It increases the levels of adrenaline, the hormone that powers the body to fight or flee in stressful situations. As adrenaline levels increase, it stimulates the fat cells to release fatty acids into the blood. It is then used by the cells to produce energy. 

Caffeine also reduces appetite and boosts metabolism. Both are effective ways of reducing calories.

2. Green Tea

Green tea contains caffeine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), two compounds that have thermogenic properties. EGCG is a type of catechin which slows down the breakdown of adrenaline, amplifying its impact. Caffeine and EGCG thus work in tandem to boost metabolism and increase fat burning.

3. Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil is mainly made up of medium-chain fatty acids. These fats inhibit fat deposition simply by increasing thermogenesis and fat burning rate. The medium-chain triglycerides also help with appetite control as they confer satiating properties.

4. Proteins

Unlike fats and carbohydrates, proteins take the longest to digest. This implies that more calories are burnt in the process. Thus, including high-protein foods in your daily diet can help you lose weight by burning more calories. While animal-based lean proteins provide a high degree of satiety which helps cut down appetite, plant-based proteins boost metabolism. 

5. Ginger

Ginger is known to enhance the thermic effect of food. Compounds in ginger possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help a person burn more fat.

6. Foods Containing Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a molecule present in plants. It is a chemical irritant that leads to a burning sensation. It thus gives chilli peppers their spicy taste. Capsaicin works as a thermogenic in three ways. Firstly, upon ingestion, the chemical triggers a burning sensation. This, in turn, makes the tissues contract rapidly, leading to the burning of more calories.

Secondly, capsaicin stimulates the release of adrenaline in the body. This speeds up the metabolism and pushes the body to burn more calories and fat, leading to weight loss.

Lastly, its powerful burning sensation also cuts down on appetite, making you eat fewer calories. 

Research suggests that simply adding capsaicin to your daily diet can help you burn 10% more fat than the control group.

7. High-Fibre Foods

Switching from refined food grains to high-fibre whole grains has magical effects on energy regulation and metabolism. Research shows that eating an extra 45 g of fibre every day can increase metabolism. High-fibre foods include nuts like almonds and pistachios and fruits like avocados, pears, and mangoes

Thermogenic Fat Burners

In addition to foods, there are certain plant extracts that are used as thermogenic supplements. As they expedite the process of fat burning. Some of the best thermogenic fat burners include:

1. Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit, is a potent thermogenic food. Its extract contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a compound that blocks the activity of the ATP citrate lyase enzyme. The enzyme is responsible for the formation of body fat.

What is Thermogenesis - Did you know

2. Yohimbine

The bark of the African Yohimbe tree contains rich amounts of a chemical that is commonly taken as a thermogenic supplement. It is believed to increase the activity of hormones, namely adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine. Increased levels of these hormones are directly linked to increased fat metabolism.

3. Bitter Orange 

Bitter orange, a citrus fruit, contains high amounts of synephrine, a compound touted as a natural stimulant. The use of synephrine helps increase metabolism. Studies show that it is one of the best thermogenic fat burners and leads to burning additional 65 calories per day

Conclusion

What is thermogenesis? Thermogenesis is the process of dissipation of energy as heat. It happens within the brown adipose tissue and the skeletal muscles, leading to the rise in the core body temperature. Certain foods are classified as thermogenic foods as they help boost metabolism, increase burning of fat, and cut down on appetite. Including such foods in a balanced diet along with regular exercise helps burn fat at a faster pace. 

Thermogenic supplements too are widely used for this purpose. The supplements increase the rate at which the body burns fat. The thermogenic fat burners will help you burn additional fat, helping you lose weight much more easily. Talk to your medical practitioner before trying thermogenesis as a weight loss mechanism. 

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