Do certain foods help boost your metabolism?
Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that happen in your body in order to maintain life. We generally refer to metabolism as the rate at which your body burns calories, and there are many different ways you can decrease or boost your metabolism. Many changes in metabolism happen as part of your body’s daily cycle – for instance when you sleep, metabolism decreases. Your environment can have an effect as well – as body temperature increases metabolism revs up. Rigorous exercise can boost your metabolism since your body needs to convert calories to energy in order to keep up with your activity. Fasting can actually decrease your metabolic rate, as your body begins to conserve energy, sometimes by up to 40%.
Some foods that you eat, as well as the time of day you eat them, can also have an effect on your metabolism. As a rule, if you wish to increase the rate at which your body burns calories, try to consume water with every meal as hydration helps stimulate the metabolic process, as does eating small portions frequently through the day. Metabolism decreases while you sleep so its best to avoid heavy meals and excess snacking prior to bedtime if you wish to maintain a high metabolic rate.
Here are Ten Foods to Increase Your Metabolism
1. Green Tea
While drinking tea in general is a great way to increase your metabolism due to its high water content, green teas in particular can help increase metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that few cups of delicious green tea consumed throughout the day can significantly impact your metabolic rate, helping you burn calories more quickly while keeping you hydrated. The antioxidant properties of green tea do more than just boost your metabolism, they can also boost your immune system too.
Overall, green tea has many beneficial effects on your health, ranging from increased brain function, lowering your risk of heart disease, even killing bacterial infection in your gums. Combined with the benefits it has on helping you lose excess weight and keeping that weight off, there are plenty of reasons to included tea in your diet daily. It may seem hard at first, but substituting your regular daytime coffee with tea, especially green tea, can have long lasting implications on your overall health.
Chillies are well known for their spiciness and flavour, but their benefits stretch beyond their tastiness. Chillies contain capsaicin, which makes chill peppers thermogenic – a food which helps heat the body and increase metabolism, like stoking an inner “fire” that can burn more calories. Like green tea, chilies are also a great antioxidant and contain vitamins A and C. This means that chillies no only help increase your metabolism, but they can also help with cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, plus they taste great and provide meals with a delicious heat. If you’re wondering if hotter is better, it should be noted that spiciness doesn’t correlate directly to the increased presence of capsaicin, those looking for the extra boost should instead look to the colour of the chilli. The brighter the colour the more capsaicin it likely contains. There is a wide variety of chillies, so this is not a hard-fast rule, rather a general guide.
We’ve already covered why you should be eating oatmeal in a previous article, but it is worth mentioning again here. Beyond its direct health benefits it is also a food that can help increase your metabolism. Instead of increasing body heat like chillies, oatmeal is a slow-burning food which helps stimulate metabolism over a longer period of time – think of it like a heavy, solid log on a fire that will keep burning all night long as opposed to a few dry leaves that burn quickly and then go out. This means we can convert oatmeal into a powerful and long-lasting energy source which can give us the energy boost we need – try to avoid adding sugar and instead reach for a natural fruit like blueberries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Full disclosure – this one is a little controversial because in and of itself Apple Cider Vinegar doesn’t boost your metabolism, but it does have an effect on calorie consumption and energy by regulating the acidity of the body. Like many processes in our body, metabolism is a complex system, one which can be affected negatively by high acidity in the body. This is where apple cider vinegar comes in. Apple cider vinegar is an alkaline, which helps to regulate the acid content in our bodies and keep our metabolic system balanced. We included it in here because an unregulated system will be less effective in metabolizing any of the foods on this list – thus we can say that ACV is a food which helps (though indirectly) to boost your metabolic system.
Its true that avocados are loaded with fat, but thankfully these are monounsaturated fats – the same great fats you can find in olive oil. While regulating these ‘good fats’ must still be considered when planning your diet, avocados have sometimes gotten a bad rep for their fattiness alone and many avoid what they have mistaken as simply a high-fat food, which means they are missing out on all the amazing nutrients and benefits of these delicious green fruits. Avocados are loaded with proteins, vitamins, and amino acids, all of which help to boost your metabolism while satiating the body. The real key to their metabolic influence though is in the aforementioned monounsaturated fats which activate the metabolic pathways, stimulating metabolism. Thus, adding just a little avocado to snacks will help you stimulating the digestion of other foods, fill you up with nutrients, and help you avoid overeating. What’s not to love about avocados?
While cinnamon is tasty and there are plenty of ways to add it to your diet, only a little is needed to have an effect on your metabolism. Cinnamon’s primary effect is on the blood glucose level, but it also helps stimulate metabolism and best yet, it’s effects can last through the day. Adding a little cinnamon (less than two teaspoons) to your oatmeal, at the beginning of your day, will help keep your digestion ticking away until the evening. Cinnamon also helps regulate insulin levels in the body, thus diabetes sufferers should consult their doctors before adding cinnamon to their diet.
We started this list talking about the benefits of tea and how it can boost your metabolism, and now we’re giving a shout-out to coffees effect on metabolism. Often thought of as a diuretic, coffee can stimulate metabolism. This is mostly through its caffeine content, and while it is certainly effective the downside is that overtime an immunity to these effects can increase. This is partially offset by coffee’s suppressive effect on your appetite, but metabolic rate often declines if we fail to intake food into our system on a regular basis causing the body to go into a sort of conservation mode. Thus the effects of coffee on metabolism have to be consciously regulated (thus appearing seventh on our list instead of first). Switching between coffee and tea throughout the week may help this effort – we’ll leave it to you.
While nuts make a great, healthy snack, almonds are by far the best nuts for helping to get a calorie boost and make your digestion work hard, boosting your metabolism in turn. These dense proteins are loaded with good fats but not a lot of sugar and a handful can provide you with all the energy you need when you’re looking for a quick boost. However, be careful when it comes to consuming nuts – a handful is good but too many will overload your body with calories, and if you’re looking to increase your metabolism and burn fat you don’t want to be stressing out your digestive system which will convert these foods into unused energy (fat deposits) instead.
Celery is a negative-calorie food, as in it takes more energy for the body to digest than it gives back. It is for this reason that celery is great for a boosting metabolism without adding any calories itself. Metabolic processes increase when the body is digesting, and for some time following (which is why several small meals a day keeps the metabolic rate higher than just two or three meals per day). With this in mind, celery is a great way of keeping the body’s metabolic processes working while simultaneously not taking in any large amount of calories. Celery is thus great for a snack, but always remember, if you’re looking for a boost of energy, perhaps before a trip to the gym, you’ll probably want to reach for something more substantial – maybe add some almond butter to your celery. If on the other hand, you’re just looking for a quick snack to satisfy a need to nibble, celery should be high up on that list.
While we started this list with our top choice for metabolic boosting foods and drinks, we will save the best (tasting) for last. Chocolate – dark, pure chocolate – actually has a few benefits going for it if you want to boost your metabolism and promote weight loss. Working on two fronts, consuming chocolate satiates the appetite making you feel full for longer after a meal, thus curbing snacking, and the caffeine and monounsaturated fats content in dark chocolate help boost the metabolism (like avocados and almonds), thus aiding in the burning of fats to fuel our body. As with anything on this list, moderation is the key. The metabolic boost is really only in the domain of the purer, dark chocolates – milk chocolate and certainly anything considered a ‘candy bar’ are so loaded down with added sugar and other fats they more than offset the health benefits of the “good stuff”, even going so far as to make us feel hungrier while our metabolism slows. Nonetheless, a small square of the purest chocolate following a meal may be the best dessert if you’re looking to get a boost of energy and satisfy your cravings.
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There are many other foods that help to boost your metabolism but our list of ten above should get you going. Always remember that metabolism can also be increased with regular exercise, sleeping well, and staying hydrated throughout the day. No singular food or action will be enough alone, but with an overall shift in your diet towards foods that are beneficial and healthier than what we normally consume, the results can be dramatic. Consult your doctor before making any major shift or change to your daily routine as we should never be out to shock the body into change which can cause physical, mental, and emotional stress. Check out our other list of health foods for activity and diets and reaching your goals, and let us know in the comments below if we missed any foods you think should be included.
Eat well and take it one step at a time. Celebrate every ten steps and you’ll be motivated to climb your own mountain no matter the height. Enjoy!