Written by Helen Kwon, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
It’s that time of year when we put on the extra layer of thermals to keep us warm. But did you know that there is another way to keep our body warm and comfortable during winter? Thanks to the power of thermogenic foods, we can keep warm from the inside out. What are thermogenic foods? All the foods we consume produce energy and give off heat, courtesy of our digestive and metabolic systems, but there are certain foods that increase the body temperature much better than others. Foods with higher amounts of protein, good fats and fibre, take longer to digest and this produces more energy and heat. These are known as thermogenic foods and because of their ability to rev up our metabolism, this can also support healthy weight loss. Before you head out on a cold winter’s day, consider consuming some thermogenic foods to keep you warm and toasty, from the inside out.
Our Favourite Thermogenic Foods:
Black pepper: the active component piperine is responsible for the thermogenic effect to our body. Not only does piperine raise your metabolism, it also helps with the absorption of curcumin and other important nutrients.
Cinnamon: contains cinnamaldehyde, polyphenols and other flavonoids. These active components increase metabolism and may help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Opt for organic Ceylon cinnamon (known as “true” cinnamon) instead of the lower quality cassia variety. Cassia cinnamon contains higher amounts of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon, and in high doses, can be harmful and may also interfere with blood thinning medication.
Cruciferous Vegetables: such as kale, spinach and collard greens are rich in fibre and other important nutrients. These complex carbohydrates contain both soluble and insoluble fiber that take longer to go through your body and this increases their thermogenic properties.
Fatty Fish: wild-caught salmon, sardines and mackerel contain higher levels of omega-3 and along with its protein content it can boost your metabolism and increase the thermogenic rate. As an added bonus, the omega-3 found in fatty fish acts as an anti-inflammatory and also helps boost brain function.
Ginger: this ubiquitous rhizome contains capsaicin and gingerol. Both help to boost your metabolism and increase body temperature.
Green Tea: contains Epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin that is rich in anti-oxidants. EGCG helps to increase thermogenesis and your metabolism. Choose organic green tea without any added milk or sugar to reap the full benefits.
Hot Peppers: just consuming a small amount of a hot pepper can generate enough body heat. The active component responsible for this is capsaicin. It has the reputation of kick starting your metabolism and this in return may help with weight loss.
Nuts: this powerhouse of nutrients contain good fats, fibre and protein, which makes it a superstar when it comes to thermogenesis. Just a couple of handfuls a day will generate a whole lot of heat to keep you toasty.
Turmeric: this thermogenic spice has long been touted in ayurvedic medicine as having amazing anti-inflammatory properties. The active component curcumin, not only helps to rev up your metabolism, it reduces satiety hormone leptin, making you feel fuller faster and also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Combine black pepper with turmeric to enhance its absorption.