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5 Everyday Ingredients That Boost Fat Burning

5 Everyday ingredients that boost fat burning

The broken record echoes the message that to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. Its a simple concept but it has another dimension to it that makes fat burning less likely. 

It depends on what you eat as well as how much you eat.

Energetically speaking, eating 500 Kcal of butter is equal to eating 500 Kcal of Broccoli, but the effects on metabolism differ greatly. Calories are not all equal. Compounds in different foods effect metabolism in different ways. This is why deeper consideration is needed when assessing calories in/out. The functions of the foods the calories come from need to be considered as well.

Certain foods differ in the amount of heat they produce during digestion. This is known as thermogenesis. The more heat produced, the greater the rate of metabolism. As a result more calories are burned in digestion than would have been had a food with a lower thermogenic potential been eaten. 

Foods that stimulate a greater rate of thermogenesis use up more energy (calories) by way of digestion. By using up more energy in digestion, total daily energy expenditure is increased (calories burned). This weighs in favour of a negative energy balance for the day. When you experience a negative energy balance, the common result is to lose weight.


                Negative energy balance –  Kcal Out exceeds Kcal in

Thermogenic ingredients assist in preventing a positive energy balance and weight gain.

Thermogenic ingredients have unique properties as functional agents making them effective weight management tools:

  • They increase daily energy expenditure (calories burned)
  • Don’t increase energy intake (calories consumed)
  • Decrease appetite
  • Counteract the decrease in metabolism associated with weight loss.

Hot Red Pepper

Capsaicin, a member of the family capsaicinoids, are compounds found in hot red peppers. When eaten, Capsaicin signals a shift in substrate oxidation (what is burned as fuel) from carbohydrate to fat (1). Capsaicin is the most pungent capsaicinoid, largely contributing to red peppers fat burning properties (2). Capsaicin acts to facilitate weight loss in three ways; It increases energy expenditure, more of which is burned as fat, whilst decreasing appetite. (2).

Green Tea

The catechins in green tea are thought to trigger fat oxidation (burning) and thermogenesis through the enzyme, catechol-O methyltransferase (3). This enzyme increases the activity of the Sympathetic nervous system, increasing energy expenditure and fatty acid oxidation (4). Green tea has been known to exert satiating effects, reducing appetite. (5). Green tea facilitates the achievement of a negative energy balance through increasing calories burned (6), of which come from fat, and reducing appetite.


Gingerols and shogoals are two compounds responsible for gingers pungent taste. Additionally, they increase the rate of thermogenesis, which increases the burning of stored energy as fat (7). Ginger has been shown to lower hunger, subsequent food intake and cause a greater feeling of fulness (8). The effects of ginger on thermogenesis and appetite make it a useful tool to use with foods or in beverages, discouraging over eating and facilitating weight maintenance.

Black Pepper

Black pepper has thermogenic properties similar to that of red pepper. Through creating more body heat, energy expenditure increases, burning more calories (7). Black pepper has a principal constituent, Piperine which is akin to the capsacin in hot red pepper. Black pepper influences the absorption of nutrients making it a useful addition to most meals.


Caffeine, found in coffee, teas and cocoa is the most abundant form of methylthxanthine. It has been proven to stimulate metabolic rate in humans, as well as resting energy expenditure after consumption (9). Increases in fat oxidation have been observed when caffeine was consumed (9). After consumption of caffeine, thermogenic effects could still be seen overnight, pointing to possible long-term effects of caffeine (10). Greater feelings of fulness were experienced in men and women after consuming caffeine(11). Caffeine has the ability to reduce energy intake and stimulate greater energy expenditure (6), making it an effective weight maintenance tool.

In Summary 

These ingredients can be great allies but they aren’t a magic solution for weight loss alone. Coupled with exercise and whole foods they make a great team. Functional agents give you a competitive edge, gaining better control of appetite and stimulating metabolic activity conducive to weight loss.


  1. Yoshioka M, Lim K, Kikuzato S, Kiyonaga A, Tanaka H, Shindo M, Suzuki M. Effects of red-pepper diet on the energy metabolism in men. Journal of Nutritional Science and vitaminology (1995) 41: 647-656.
  2. Dulloo A.G : The search for compounds that stimulate thermogenesis in obesity management: From pharmaceuticals to food ingredients. Obesity reviews (2011) 12: 866-883.
  3. Borchardt RT, Huber JA. Catechol O-methyltransferase. 5. Structure-activity relationships for inhibition by flavinoids. Journal of Medical Chemistry (1975) 18: 120-122.
  4. Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Faithi M. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1999); 70:1040-1045.
  5. MS Westerterp-Plantenga1, A Smeets and MPG Lejeune :Sensory and gastrointestinal satiety effects of capsaicin on food intake. International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29: 682–688.
  6. R Hursel and MS Westerterp-Plantenga .Thermogenic ingredients and body weight regulation. International Journal of Obesity (2010) 34: 659–669
  7. Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga a,b,⁎ , Kristel Diepvens a , Annemiek M.C.P. Joosen a , Sonia Bérubé-Parent c , Angelo Tremblay. Metabolic effects of spices, teas, and caffeine. Physiology & Behavior (2006) 89: 85–91
  8. Mansour MS1, Ni YM, Roberts AL, Kelleman M, Roychoudhury A, St-Onge MP. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study. Metabolism. (2012) 10:1347-52.
  9. Acheson KJ, Zahorska-Markiewicz B, Pittet PH, Anantharaman K, Jequieer E. Caffeine and coffee: Their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1980) 33: 989-997.
  10. Jung RT, Shetty PS, James WPT, Barrand MA, Callingham BA. Caffeine: its effect on catecholamines and metabolism in lean and obese humans. Clinical Science 1981;60:527–35.
  11. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM. Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obesity Research (2005) 13:1195–204.

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