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  • Writer's pictureKatie

13 High-Thermic Effect Foods That Give You Energy

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

We all have those days when we wake up exhausted and have to pull ourselves out of bed, sometimes even after a good night's sleep. Days like that can be long and frustrating, preventing you from accomplishing your goals and feeling awesome. Luckily, you have many options when it comes to increasing your energy. Healthy habits like exercise, proper sleep, and healthy eating can all support your metabolism and boost your energy. When it comes to healthy eating, prioritize high-thermic effect foods that give you energy for an extra boost.

When you're feeling unproductive, tired, and in need of more vitality, it's worth considering eating healthy foods to lose weight and boost energy. An increased energy level can contribute to a better quality life. When you have more energy, you lead more productive, motivated, and joyful days. This helps you, over time, increase your quality of life and achieve your goals. One of the best ways to boost your energy is through diet and high-thermic effect foods.

Interestingly enough, these are also some of the best foods for weight loss! Yes, there are actually foods that help you lose weight. They boost your metabolism while you're pursuing other ways to increase your energy. High thermic-effect foods can boost your metabolic rate and help your body naturally burn more calories. Including these foods as part of a healthy diet is a great way to boost energy, increase your motivation and productivity, and help you live your best life.

High Thermic Effect Foods

High-thermic effect foods actually increase your metabolism because they require more energy to digest. This energy expenditure is known at the thermic effect of food. It can help you understand how many calories you'd lose while your body works to digest the food and absorb its nutrients. When you're seeking the best healthy foods to eat to lose weight, make sure high-thermic effect foods are included in your list.

Of course, food provides calories as well - so it's important to eat foods that are healthful and provide the best nutritional bang for your buck while ALSO eating foods that burn substantial calories during digestion. When deciding which foods are the best to eat when you're trying to burn extra calories, you'll want to look at the thermic effect of each.

The protein/carbohydrate/fat ratio is one of the best ways to predict if a food has a higher-thermic effect. Protein's thermic effect is between 20-30% of the calories consumed. Carbs have a thermic effect between 5-10%, and fat has the lowest thermic effect between 0-3%. Keep in mind that high-thermic effect foods do not actually burn fat, they just use more energy (and calories) to digest. Therefore, since protein takes so much energy to digest and absorb, you'll burn 20-30% of its calories just through the digestive process.

Additionally, high-fiber foods tend to also have a higher thermic effect. Including more high-fiber foods (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes) in your diet can help you boost metabolism and energy. While you're increasing your intake of fiber and protein-rich foods, though, also consider reducing your intake of refined grains. If you're able to replace your refined foods (like white bread, white rice, pasta, and sugar-filled goodies) with fiber-rich whole grains, your energy will drastically improve.

Foods That Provide Energy

Below are some of the best healthy foods that give you energy. These foods boost metabolism and can help you lose weight, maintain weight, or just stay healthy and active! When you're eating to lose weight, incorporate these foods in your healthy meals to maintain high levels of energy and lead more productive and satisfying days.

1. Lean, High-Quality Protein

High-quality protein like free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, tofu, beans, and lentils offer some of the highest thermic effect. They help us feel full and keep our blood sugar levels stable. It's especially important to include healthy protein in your first meal of the day to keep up consistent energy as your day goes on. When you eat these foods, they provide energy, boost metabolism, and take time to digest. This leaves us full for longer while we have the energy to get what we need to done!

2. Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, and fruit can reduce dramatic swings in hunger and energy. They can boost serotonin, helping you be more calm, positive, and happy. Just be sure to avoid refined carbs like white rice, white bread, bagels, and crackers. They often unleash a rapid increase of energy and can digest quickly.

3. Salmon (& Other Fish High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

Salmon is another one of the best foods that increase energy levels. Salmon is rich in healthy fats, vitamins, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. It supports brain health and improves your mood. Omega-3s can be found in fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines (as well as walnuts, flaxseeds, and omega-3-fortified eggs). Omega-3s improve mood, memory and energy levels. Studies have shown that low omega-3 levels are related to pessimism, depression, and impulsivity.

4. Chocolate

Chocolate releases feel-good hormones. With one ounce of chocolate, both mood and your energy levels can be enhanced. I highly suggest dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa solids (60-90% dark). Dark chocolate is rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc. It also contains antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.

5. Nuts

Nuts are rich in magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy. They are also full of healthy fiber and fats that will keep you full for longer. A handful of nuts, including almonds, cashews and hazelnuts, each day will provide you with important vitamins, minerals, and lasting energy.

6. Coconut Oil

This oil is a great energy booster thanks to its unique fatty acid composition, which includes medium-chain fatty acids. These types of fatty acids are easily converted into energy and less likely to get stored as fat. You can mix or blend the coconut oil into your tea or smoothie for maximum benefits, or you can use it in place of other cooking oils.

7. Eggs

Eggs contain energy-enhancing minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and chromium. The high protein content contributes to fullness. Eat one or two eggs for breakfast to get rid of the mid-morning hunger pangs.

8. Citrus Fruits

Fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines are rich in vitamin C. This vitamin acts as an immune system enhancer, an antioxidant, and helps in the absorption of iron. Consuming citrus fruits regularly provides you with enough Vitamin C, which keeps your energy levels in check.

9. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients that increase energy. Chia fiber is uniquely hydrophilic, meaning they soak up a lot of water and form a gel. This gel helps keep you hydrated and provides long lasting energy. The seeds are also high in essential minerals like calcium. Just add a teaspoon of chia to your oatmeal or smoothie to reap all the energy boosting benefits.

10. Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein, Vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and magnesium. All this helps fight fatigue and boosts your energy. Apart from this, seeds help fight hunger, keeping you satisfied for longer.

11. Yogurt

Yogurt is full of Vitamin B, proteins, and other nutrients. This makes it a great energy booster, especially when you need to jump start your morning. It provides your body with energy in a healthy way.

12. Beans

Beans are an excellent example of high-energy foods. They are rich in protein that is responsible for giving you energy, as well as fiber that lowers your cholesterol levels. Beans also go with almost everything and they last forever. Stock up!

13. Green Leafy Vegetables

Vegetables like spinach, kale, tomatoes and broccoli are low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, folic acids, carotenoids and other nutrients. All these contribute to higher energy levels. Leafy greens also contain folate, which helps with detoxification. Leafy greens are absolutely incredible for your health in so many ways. I highly recommend making sure you get at least one serving of them (ideally more) every day.


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