Food That Could Boost Your Metabolism
Metabolism is largely controlled by genetics, which is why some lucky people can eat whatever they want and not gain a pound while others have to be careful about what they put in their salads to avoid gaining weight. Luckily for the latter group, genetics aren’t the only factor. There are certain foods that could lead to temporary increases in your resting metabolism.
SPINACH & KALE
Spinach, but also any leafy green, is a great metabolism booster. This is in part due to the high fiber content of leafy greens, according to Farley. High fiber foods like leafy greens can increase your fat burn by 30%, recommending a minimum of 3 servings per day for maximum results. Organic dark leafy greens like spinach and kale provide iron to support healthy blood, which is key to optimal cellular metabolism energy, and calcium to support muscle performance. All the more reason to stock up on leafy greens.
Eating food can temporarily increase your metabolism for a few hours, which is why skipping meals is such a big weight loss no-no. This temporary spike is called the thermic effect of food, or TEF. A study from the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that protein causes the largest rise in TEF, meaning you should load up on foods like chicken, beef and turkey (or meat sources like chicken, beef and turkey) if you’re looking to boost your resting metabolic rate.
They’re not just delicious—berries like strawberries and blackberries are also high in dietary fiber. A study in the journal Nutrients found that high-fiber diets are inversely related to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and might improve carbohydrate metabolism (aka the way you digest and process foods like sugar and grains). That’s largely because fiber is hard to digest. The body tries to digest it anyway, though, and burns more calories in the process. This calls for a trip to the farmers’ market.
Not necessarily a food, but still. A study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that caffeine can temporarily increase resting metabolic rates by three to 11 percent. One caveat: Coffee’s fat-burning effects are dependent on your weight. A study in the American Journal of Physiology found that coffee increased fat-burning by 29 percent for lean women, but only 10 percent for obese women. If you want to drink coffee every day, I highly recommend you organic coffee because of the taste and the better ingredients.
Spicy foods like hot peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that studies (like this one from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Food Research Centre) have found kick metabolism into higher gear, helping your body burn around 50 extra calories per day. Hey, every little bit helps, people.
In addition to its many beauty uses, coconut oil is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. That’s because it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat. According to a study at McGill University’s School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, diets high in MCTs result in greater loss of fat. So start cooking veggies in coconut oil instead of butter or olive oil. There, that was easy.
While chia seeds have lots of different characteristics, metabolism-wise, chia seeds offer a few specific benefits. Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and healthy omega 3 fats. When you have all three together, it is very powerful.
This is probably good news for a lot of you out there – dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao) can help boost your metabolism. Raw cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium, and magnesium helps to support healthy glucose levels. Magnesium also stimulates the fat-burning hormone adiponectin. As with all sweets, less is better, but a bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt your efforts towards a better metabolism and might even give you the boost — emotional and physical — that you need.
Cinnamon is a fairly unanimous metabolism booster. Cinnamon contains thermogenic properties, which means when you consume it, your body automatically starts to burn more calories throughout the day for minimum 30 days. I recommend organic Ceylon cinnamon over organic cassia cinnamon and about ¼ teaspoon per day. Important Differences: Ceylon cinnamon has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than cassia does, which may make it preferable for flavoring desserts and lighter dishes. But the more important distinction may be the presence of a chemical called coumarin, a natural plant chemical that acts as a blood thinner. This chemical is present in much higher concentrations in cassia than in Ceylon cinnamon. It is contraindicated for anyone taking prescription blood thinners. Coumarin has also been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys, and it may also be carcinogenic, which can negate any health benefits of cinnamon.
Grapefruit has long been linked to weight loss because it has been proven to lower insulin levels. Its fiber contents are also helpful in boosting metabolism, and its vitamin C content helps your body stay healthy and your immune system work the way it should, both of which are essential to boosting your metabolism.
It is simply the answer to all the questions – there is nothing more healthy than curcuma.
Epigallocatechin gallate is the form of catechin found in green tea and a substance that has been proven to enhance the fat burning process, according to Davidson. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found green tea-extract boosted the metabolism by 4 percent over a 24 hour period.
Last but really not least is water. In fact, it is the starting point for a boosted metabolism, citing a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that found that drinking water increases metabolic rate by 30 percent. Increasing your fluid intake may help your body to more effectively break down fat. In addition, even slight dehydration can slow metabolism.
Add to that its natural appetite suppression, and water may be your metabolism’s new best friend. But how much water should you be drinking? You’ve likely heard 8 glasses a day, but it’s never a good idea to trust a catch-all solution when it comes to your health, as the amount you should be consuming of anything depends largely on your weight and calorie expenditure. Any amount is a good idea; a German study that showed that even 2 extra glasses was helpful. But what should you be aiming for?
Lifestyle Solutions for Boosting Your Metabolism
There are a few things that you can do to make sure that the food choices you’re making are supported by your lifestyle choices.
- Make sure your calories come from a good source.
For instance, ingesting 300 calories from a bowl of fruit will provide a boost of beneficial vitamins and antioxidants, while 300 calories from a sugary dessert can negatively impact blood sugar regulation and contribute to obesity. 50% of your plate needs to be filled with green vegetables, 20-30% is protein, 10% is healthy oil and 10-20% should be nuts, seeds, beans, fruit, quinoa or sweet potato.” In other words, take this food list and incorporate it into a generally healthy diet of whole plant foods and proteins.
- Focus on low-glycemic, high-protein foods.
Low-glycemic foods are foods that keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady. When concentrating on your low-glycemic foods, you’ll naturally find yourself gravitating towards protein sources, something that’s very important for boosting your metabolism.
- See the sun.
It doesn’t just make you feel better, it’s better for you. Getting exposure to sunlight in the morning can help boost metabolism. Sunlight sets your body clock, which is important is regulating metabolism.
Sleep is an important way for your body to recharge and repair itself. Chronic lack of sleep can slow metabolism, so aim to get 7-8 hours per night.
- Choose organic.
The benefits of organic foods just keep on coming. The best way to make sure that the foods you choose are actually doing their job is to choose organic whenever possible. Our bodies need regular clean up of the dirt (free radicals) that accumulates every day from what we eat, from stress and from exposure to toxins. Your body’s clean-up team comes from all the different fruits and veggies (aim for a rainbow), but if those are ‘dirty’ (contain lots of pesticide residues), it makes the clean up team less efficient – it’s like mopping your floor wearing dirty shoes. Keep your food clean, and your metabolism will be that much more efficiently boosted.
- Lower your stress.
Stress of any kind can actually hinder your metabolism. Pick a more active activity to de-stress than vegging in front of the TV. Any activity that lowers stress, like meditation or yoga, will help regulate metabolism.
- Work out.
Not only is this an additional way to reduce your stress, but working out is key to boosting your metabolism. One of the most effective ways to boost metabolism is to do 10 minutes of burst training 3 to 4 times a week. Bursting consists of 30 seconds maximal exertion followed by 30 seconds on minimal exertion for a total of 10 minutes.
Overall, it’s important to remember that every small step counts, but none of these steps is a magic formula. The journey towards healthy living is just that, a journey.
Featured image by @the_sunkissed_kitchen
Spinach & Kale image by @AlfonsoCenname
Lean protein image by @JamesSutton
Berries image by @JeremyRicketts
Coffee image by @MerleneGoulet
Chili image by @JonathanNiederhoffer