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Definition of Thermogenic

author image Allison Adams
Allison Adams has worked as a registered dietitian since 1996. She began writing professionally in 2000, with work featured in a variety of medical publications such as "Women's Health Magazine" and the "New England Journal of Medicine." Adams holds a Master of Science in nutrition and food sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thermogenics is an increased production of heat in your body, usually accomplished by taking supplements. According to the Food and Drug Administration and many medical professionals, achieving thermogenesis through supplementation is not safe. You can also achieve thermogenesis through diet-induced thermogenesis, exercise-associated thermogenesis and non-exercise-associated thermogenesis. You should speak with a medical professional before using any thermogenic supplements.

The Basics

Thermogenic supplements use different stimulants to increase your energy levels and suppress your appetite. Manufacturers generally market these supplements for weight loss. Many of these products use herbs and stimulants such as guaraná, kola, yerba mate, garcinia cambogia, bitter orange and pyruvate to achieve the thermogenic effect. These products are natural versions of thermogenic supplements that use caffeine and ephedra to produce the same thermogenic effect. Because these products increase your heart rate, you should not use thermogenic supplements if you suffer from any heart condition.

Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia cambogia is an appetite suppressant commonly used in thermogenic supplements that manufacturers say will also lower your cholesterol levels. The active ingredient in garcinia cambogia is hydroxycitric acid. No evidence supports the claim that garcinia cambogia can lower your cholesterol or help you lose weight.

Bitter Orange and Pyruvate

Manufacturers say bitter orange can mimic the effects of ephedrine. The Food and Drug Administration banned manufacturers from using ephedrine in health supplements. Bitter orange contains synephrine, which is similar to ephedrine. Clinical studies have examined the effects of bitter orange in humans. Older individuals and those with a heart condition, however, should not take supplements with bitter orange. Pyruvate is another substance used in thermogenic supplements that manufacturers say will help you lose weight. However, scientific evidence has not substantiated these weight loss claims.

Ways to Achieve Thermogenics

Some foods naturally have thermogenic properties, such as hot peppers. These foods can achieve some of the alleged thermogenic effects as thermogenic supplements, without many of the side effects associated with these products. You can also achieve thermogenesis through exercise, which increases your metabolic rate by increasing heat in your body. Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, suggests that thermogenic products do not have long-term effectiveness and can lead to long-term health problems. Instead of using thermogenic supplements, Weil recommends physical activity and a low-calorie diet for healthy weight loss.

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