How to Eat (and Live) for Heat

How to Eat (and Live) for Heat
by Ben Brown

2014 is officially upon us and there are actually a few people that have not yet ditched their new years fat loss resolutions – I know one for sure. Couple this with the fact that the vast majority of the country is blanketed in snow and freezing temperatures and the topic of warmth, heat, and ultimately metabolism comes to light.

Of course warmth from the outside in is quite different than from the inside out, or is it? I mean the general concept is the same – to generate heat.

The notion that certain foods can actually stimulate metabolism to both warm the body and more specifically aid in fat loss has been around since the time of Lavosier (you know, the father of modern chemistry circa the 1700’s). What we know to be true in both animals and humans is that the ingestion of food increases oxygen consumption. This increase in metabolic rate is known as the thermic effect (TE) of food or diet induced thermogenesis.

Basically, the early work on TE showed the type and amount of food, notably the macronutrients– protein, carbohydrates, fats had a specific fat burning effect, proteins representing the meat (yes, pun intended) of the metabolic boosting effect. Since then, numerous minor constituents of the diet, like caffeine, herbs and spices represent another important metabolic driver. Before you get too excited, I should probably mention that simply because certain foods are more “stimulating” than others, including one or a few is unlikely to do anything significant if your existing lifestyle habits, including; diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction are not given proper attention (more on that below).

Metabolic Boosting Foods

Caffeine and Green Tea
Both caffeine and specifically green tea have thermogenic properties that promote not only fat oxidation but also increased 24-hr energy expenditure, especially when used prior to exercise. Matcha green tea – high in EGCG compounds – specifically has been shown to be a more powerful fat burner in addition to the numerous other health benefits stemming from it’s potent antioxidant properties. One to multiple cups a day could be a good addition to any nutritional protocol.

Lean Proteins

Not only do lean proteins have the highest thermic effect of food (up to 30% of calories), but they are also often the most satisfying. My suggestion would be to replace the habitually consumed beef and chicken with more wild game lean meat sources like bison, elk, ostrich, venison, etc. to offer the body a change in amino acids. This alone can minimize food sensitivities, prevent inflammation and contribute to fat loss.

It’s also worth mentioning that these wild game sources are often high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an essential fatty acid that has been shown to help reduce body fat by stimulating basal metabolic rate and therefore burning more calories at rest.

Coconut Oil
A potent source of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), coconut oil has been touted as a super food due to its energy density coupled with an easily digestible structure. This fatty acid has been shown to help in the process of excess calorie burning and thus weight loss as well as increased fat oxidation (fat burning).

Coconut oil can be used many ways but is often great as a stable fat for higher temperature cooking like sautéing or baking meat or veggies. Personally, I take a tablespoon in my morning coffee.

Metabolic Boosting Habits
Regardless of the temperature outside, the bodies internal temperature and metabolic output will be determined through quality sleep, consistent exercise, stress reduction techniques and a nutrition regimen that has ample amounts of all three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats. When the foundation is set, then introducing some metabolically stimulating foods is sure to lead a improved health and faster fat loss.