Burn More Calories Faster: Maximizing Your Workout in a Thermogenic State
What if you could burn calories while doing nothing? That's the promise of many too-good-to-be-true supplements and diet plans, but a growing body of research shows that this isn't a weight-loss pipe dream. In fact, through the science of thermogenesis, you can actually increase your resting metabolic rate and burn more calories both inside and outside of the gym.
The Science of Thermogenesis: What Is Thermogenesis?
As the "thermo" in thermogenesis implies, it's all about heat. Namely, your body's ability to generate heat.
Typically, this clinical term refers to how our muscles contract, our blood circulation rises, and we start to shiver when we get cold. The simple act of shivering heats us up, but it also requires calories for fuel.
Outside of when you're in cold weather, thermogenesis also refers to the intentional practice of getting into a thermogenic state and raising your body's internal heat levels for those same calorie-burning benefits. Researchers and fitness experts think that the hotter your body, the more calories you're burning while exercising or even while you're resting.
Getting Into a Thermogenic State: How to Tell If You're in a Thermogenic State
Is it getting hot in here? If you feel like it is, you're likely in a thermogenic state. When in thermogenesis, your body exhibits all the signs and symptoms of being warmer. This typically includes:
- A faster breathing rate
- A quicker heart rate
- Feeling warm or hot to the touch
How to Start (Or Maintain) Thermogenesis
To get into a thermogenic state, or maintain thermogenesis, you can take a series of lifestyle, workout, and dietary approaches.
1. Keep Your Heart Rate Up While Exercising
When people are in the gym, they often take their rest time between sets quite seriously. But instead of scrolling through your phone or talking to a gym partner, kick yourself into thermogenesis by using your rest time to elevate your heart rate.
For example, you could go for a gentle jog between sprints or do perform stretches and/or mobility exercises between sets.
2. Focus on Workouts That Push Your Respiratory Rate and Heart Rate
Don't neglect cardio during your exercise programming. If your heart rate sky rockets as you load plates, there is something wrong.
A subtle way to increase your overall activity is to walk for 10 minutes uphill on a treadmill before and after a lifting session. It will properly activate your lower body musculature and elevate your heart rate. If you lift 4x/week, this is additional 320 minutes of cardio a month!
This revs your metabolism, so it's constantly firing all cylinders in preparation for whatever you might throw at it.
3. Increase Your Brown Fat
Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), is a "good" type of fat. When you shiver, you're actually burning brown fat (and the calories stored in brown fat), making this special type of tissue fundamental for thermogenesis.
Not only is brown fat key for thermogenesis, but it also stores more calories than white fat. The more brown fat you have, the better you're able to get into a thermogenic state, and the more toned and athletic you'll look because of brown fat's more compact calorie storage ratio.
The two best ways to increase your levels of brown fat are through regular exercise and exposing your body to cold temperatures, such as through cold therapy or simply lowering the thermostat.
4. Eat a Thermogenic Diet
Certain foods require more digestion and processing by your body (and thus, more calories and heat to break down) and have been shown to aid thermogenesis. Some of the best foods for getting into a thermogenic state or maintaining thermogenesis include:
- High-protein foods such as eggs, which trigger diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) and raise your metabolism.
- Chili peppers, which literally make you sweat and raise your body heat and metabolic rate.
- Green tea, which boosts your metabolism and helps you to burn more calories when exercising and when in a rested state.
- Magnesium-rich foods, such as kale and other dark green leafy vegetables. Magnesium plays a foundational role in more than 300 metabolism processes.
5. Take Thermogenic Fat Burners
While certain foods have modest thermogenic effects, fat-burning thermogenic supplements take it to a whole other level by delivering a high dose of thermogenic ingredients to immediately raise your body heat and elevate your metabolism.
Not all fat burners are made alike, and some may contain more snake oil than actual research. However, high-quality thermogenic fat burners will include several specific thermogenic ingredients that are well-backed by research.
When you're evaluating fat burning supplements, look for one or more of these substances on the ingredients label:
- Capsaicin: This is the spicy active ingredient that gives chili peppers their trademark heat, and studies show that taking a thermogenic supplement containing capsaicin directly raises your metabolic rate (in some cases, by up to 10%!)
- Ginger: This all-natural herbal supplement has a multitude of benefits, including helping you to burn more fat while also balancing your cholesterol levels.
- Green tea extract: Multiple studies have shown that the antioxidants in green tea increase fat metabolism both while you're working out and while you're resting and also have significant effects on your body mass index.
- Caffeine: It's widely known that caffeine raises your metabolism and causes your body to burn more calories. Common caffeine sources in thermogenic supplements include guarana, yerba mate, coffee, and kola nut.
- Garcinia Cambogia: This tropical fruit contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a compound that may raise your metabolism and actually block your body's ability to form body fat cells.