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Thermogenic means tending to produce heat, and the term is commonly applied to drugs which increase heat through metabolic stimulation,[1] or to microorganisms which create heat within organic waste. Approximately all enzymatic reaction in the human body is thermogenic, which gives rise to the basal metabolic rate.[2]

In bodybuilding, athletes wishing to lose fat purportedly use thermogenics to increase their basal metabolic rate, thereby increasing their energy expenditure. Caffeine and ephedrine are commonly used for this purpose. 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) is a very strong thermogenic drug used for fat loss; it will give a dose-dependent increase in body temperature, to the point where it can induce death by hyperthermia. It works as a mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation uncoupler, disrupting the mitochondrial electron transport chain. This stops the mitochondria from producing adenosine triphosphate, releasing energy as heat.


  1. ^ Clapham, J. C.; Arch, J.R.S (2007). "Thermogenic and metabolic antiobesity drugs: rationale and opportunities". Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism. 9 (3): 259–275. doi:10.1111/j.1463-1326.2006.00608.x.
  2. ^ Yu‑Hua Tseng, Aaron M. Cypess and C. Ronald Kahn. Cellular bioenergetics as a target for obesity therapy. Reviews. Vol. 9. 2010: 465-81.