Today’s “Minute Monday” video gives you a health tip to aid in healthy fat loss. Watch the video for a one minute synopsis about how to use the “thermic effect of feeding” to help you lose fat today.

The thermic effect of feeding (TEF), also known as diet induced thermogenesis, is the amount of energy above baseline that you spend metabolizing substances you consume.

In reviewing the studies conducted on thermogenic foods, it appears that there are 3 main reasons that they help with weight management and fat loss.

  1. They increase energy expenditure over a 24 hour period.
  2. They increase satiety, and lead to lower food intake at subsequent meals.
  3. They increase fat oxidation.

The Thermic Effect of Protein

All foods have a thermic effect, but studies have shown that some are more thermogenic than others. For example, protein can have 2-5x the thermic effect of the other macronutrients, carbohydrate and fat. One study showed that about 14% of the calories in whey protein contribute to thermogenesis.

The Thermic Effect of Capsaicin

Foods containing capsaicin, such as spicy peppers, have also shown promise for aiding in fat loss. Capsaicin is effective in both elevating the metabolic rate of study subjects, and actually decreased the amount of food study participants consumed in subsequent meals after ingestion. It also increased their rate of fat oxidation.

It appears that just 3g of chili peppers per day provided enough capsaicin to illicit a response in study subjects. This equates to about 1/2 tablespoon of chili peppers per day. Spicier peppers have a higher concentration of capsaicin and would require a smaller total dose to be effective.

To easily get more capsaicin in your diet, you can add a small amount of cayenne or dried chili powder to meals that you cook, or start using spicy, unsweetened hot sauce as a condiment regularly.

The Thermic Effect of MCT Oil

Fat has the lowest thermic effect of all the macronutrients. However, studies on the thermic effect of MCT oil are promising. One study showed a 16% increase in energy expenditure over baseline, and another showed that just 1 tablespoon increased energy expenditure by 135 calories. The latter study also found that 2 tablespoons of MCT oil was effective in increasing energy expenditure by 475 calories over baseline when measured over a 24-hour period.

MCT Oil is easily accessible on Amazon, but for those who want to get MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) from whole food sources- your best bet is coconut oil or coconut meat. However, MCT oil is about 6 times as concentrated in the beneficial MCTs than coconut oil.

So, to take advantage of TEF of MCT oil, you can start adding 1-2 tbsp of MCT oil to your smoothies, coffee, tea, or as I’ve been doing lately adding it to my rice.

The Thermic Effect of Water

Just one half liter of room temperature water is enough to raise your metabolic rate by 30% according to one study. This only equates to about 20 calories, but the colder the water, the higher the effect on energy expenditure.

The reason is, your body has to generate heat energy to bring raise the water temperature from cold to body temperature. This requires energy, and it usually comes in the form of fat oxidation.

In his book, the 4 Hour Body, author Tim Ferriss recommends drinking 1.5 liters of ice water first thing in the morning. I suggest starting by putting about 1 liter of water in the fridge before you go to sleep, and upon waking, drinking it. From there, you can make the water colder with ice if you can tolerate it, or increase the volume of water you consume.

Other Thermogenic Foods

There are other foods which have been shown to have a minor thermogenic effect.

EGCG found in green tea has been shown to have a minor effect on fat oxidation, but only at high doses (about 500mg). It would take multiple cups of green tea to achieve this intake. It is easier to achieve with Green Tea Extract supplements. It also appears that the thermic effect is not as prevalent in subjects who regularly consume caffeine.

One study found that 2 grams of dry ginger dissolved in water at breakfast showed a small thermic effect in subjects in one study, and minimal effect in another which found that a palatable portion of mustard had a higher effect. Based on these findings, adding ginger to your water, or using mustard as a condiment may help control food intake at subsequent meals and increase energy expenditure.

When to Use Thermogenic Foods

Although the thermic effect of feeding is a great tool to have in your fat loss toolbox, if the rest of your diet is not dialed in, it will not be effective. You should instead be focused on establishing solid dietary habits.

If you have already seen progress with improved eating habits, adding or substituting thermogenic foods into your diet can be an effective tool to accelerate your fat loss.