For a long time, I knew proteins as the knight in shining armor when it comes to metabolism-boosting foods that support fat burning.
But one conversation with a renowned nutritionist changed my perception.
The nutritionist mentioned a variety of foods and drinks like chili pepper that improve gut health, carry fat-burning benefits, and help individuals lose weight and change their body composition.
With her help, I decided to do comprehensive research on foods that boost metabolism as well as those that don't.
Here’s what I found.
- Drinking coffee, tea, and cold water boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss.
- Alcohol, sugary drinks, and refined grains are examples of foods and drinks that slow down your metabolism.
- Fatigue, severe migraines, and headaches are signs of slow metabolism.
- For faster results, I recommend trying fat burner supplements.
11 Foods That Boost Metabolism
If you're looking to increase your metabolism to lose weight and promote fat burning, fill your kitchen with these 13 metabolism boosting foods.
Incorporating these nutrient-dense options into your diet can help rev up your metabolic rate, allowing your body to efficiently burn calories and shed unwanted pounds.
From spicy peppers that contain capsaicin, known for its thermogenic properties, to green tea, which is rich in catechins that promote fat oxidation, these foods can give your weight loss efforts an extra edge.
Other metabolism-boosting options include lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocados and nuts.
By making these foods a regular part of your diet, you can support your body's fat-burning processes and achieve your weight loss goals more effectively.
1. Protein-Rich Foods
High protein meals for muscle gain are the go-to foods when it comes to boosting metabolism. To boost metabolism, make sure to include foods such as eggs, meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Why proteins? Because the human body needs more energy to digest foods rich in protein. Proteins like lean meat, dairy, eggs, and fish generally have a high thermic effect on food (TEF).
A high TEF means that your body burns more calories when digesting proteins than, say, carbs.
Studies show that proteins increase TEF significantly compared to other foods. Statistically, proteins boost metabolic rate by 15-30%, fats by 0-3%, and carbs by 5-10% .
In addition, proteins keep you satisfied for longer and prevent overeating .
2. Mineral-Rich Foods
Mineral iron and selenium-rich foods such as meat, legumes, seafood, nuts, and seeds are essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which, as we’ve seen, regulates metabolism .
Needless to say, a diet low in iron or selenium reduces the thyroid’s ability, therefore slowing down metabolism.
3. Chili Peppers
Spices that help lose belly fat like chili peppers have capsaicin, a mineral that boosts metabolism by increasing the rate of calories your body burns.
Experts studying the subject found that capsaicin enhances metabolism .
What's more? Capsaicin also has appetite-reducing properties.
The same was proven by a study that subjected over 200 people to the chemical. The results showed a significant reduction in the consumption of calories .
Caffeine is another metabolism booster. This can be backed by multiple studies that discovered that people who consume three cups of coffee burn an extra 100 calories daily .
Tea contains catechins, a health-boosting compound that works hand in hand with caffeine to increase your metabolic rate, thus boosting metabolism to promote weight loss.
Our research also found that green tea and oolong are particularly helpful in increasing fat oxidation, which helps burn more calories when exercising. But this may also vary from person to person .
6. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes such as peas, chickpeas, lentils, and even peanuts are protein-high plant foods.
And as we’ve seen, foods rich in protein have a high TEF. In addition, proteins make your body burn more fat to digest.
Ginger is a spice with metabolism-boosting abilities.
A study investigating its properties found drinking hot water containing ginger powder could burn up to 43 calories more than hot water alone.
Moreover, the hot water ginger was found to enhance satiety .
I incorporated this as part of my diet and have evaluated the best ginger supplements on the market that you might want to try.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Researchers who ran tests on animals found the effects of apple cider vinegar helpful in enhancing fat-burning for energy .
Although there are no similar studies with humans as the subjects, experts claim a human-animal equivalence.
There are additional claims that apple cider also enhances satiety .
Multiple studies claim drinking water boosts metabolism by 24-30% .
According to the experts, about 40% of the increase can be attributed to the calories needed to heat water to body temperatures in what is known as water-induced thermogenesis .
That said, the effect only lasts 40-90 minutes. In addition, it may vary from one person to another.
Avocado is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated healthy fats. Not only does eating avocado for weight loss good, but it also promotes satiety.
A 2013 study found that half an avocado at lunch was enough to aid overweight people in feeling satisfied. It also reduced their desire to eat more in the following hours .
11. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
Kale, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables that burn fat can boost metabolism because their iron-rich content is essential for growth, development, and metabolism .
In addition, greens have healthy amounts of magnesium and other minerals that support metabolism .
Related: Best Metabolism Booster Pills
5 Foods That Slow It Down
As much as there are foods that boost metabolism, there are others that slow it down. Below are the foods to avoid:
1. Refined Grains
Avoid refined grains found in packaged and processed foods. Avoid white bread, rice, and pasta.
You see, refined grains lack fiber, contain empty calories, cause blood sugar spikes and hinder weight loss .
In addition, they are not filling, and you end up taking in more calories, making you feel tired and sluggish.
A study published in 2011 associated weight gain with refined grains .
2. Sugary Beverages
Sweet beverages also slow down your metabolism. That includes anything with added sugars and high in calories.
Fruit juice also falls into this category because it has many calories.
Consuming a high sugar concentration increases blood sugar and stimulates hunger shortly after drinking. To make it even worse, the fiber content in fruit juice is stripped off.
A 2017 study found that consuming high protein meals accompanied by sugar-sweetened drinks not only hurts your energy balance but also reduces fat metabolism and results in the accumulation of fat .
Alcohol is another lousy actor when it comes to your metabolism. First of all, it comes loaded with calories. And when you take it, you tend to make poor food choices.
Alcohol also harms blood sugar levels. It leaves you craving sugary foods after a few glasses. What's more? You wake up the next day exhausted and unmotivated to work out.
Some sources purport granola as healthy; most granolas have high sugar, fat, and calorie content and cause spikes in blood sugar. Plus, the consumer ends up feeling hungrier.
But that doesn't mean you can't find healthy granola. If you must take granola, look for one with 100% whole grain and a limited amount of dry fruit and nuts. Stay away from granola with added sugar and oil.
“Granola is one of those mythical health foods that have a lot of calories and can have a lot of sugar,”
-Lisa Moskovitz, CEO, New York Nutrition Group.
5. Soybean Oil
According to a 2016 study, the rising cases of obesity in America can be tied to soybean oil’s increase in American foods over the past century .
Soybean oil is high in calories and omega-6 fatty acids, which promote weight gain and inflammation. Omega 6 fatty acids are responsible for insulin and leptin resistance .
Instead of soybean oil, use olive oil, flaxseed oil, or fatty fish like salmon. Also, avoid processed foods altogether because they contain soybean oils.
How Does Eating Certain Foods Help Boost Your Metabolism?
Eating foods that boost your metabolism helps improve your metabolic rate and makes it easier to lose body fat and prevent gaining weight.
And in case you’re wondering, metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories .
Foods like protein and healthy fats promote satiety. Meaning you’re less likely to eat much afterward, which is an advantage for your weight loss ambitions .
We’ll get to see examples of these foods shortly.
While no food significantly affects metabolism for long periods, experts agree that there are foods that certainly rev up your metabolism.
At the same time, there are others that you should avoid altogether if your goal is to improve your metabolism. We’ll also look at that later in this article.
For now, let's take a quick dive into what affects metabolism.
What Affects It?
Muscle mass, age, and gender affect metabolism. More muscle mass means a faster metabolism and an increase in the resting metabolic rate.
Age is a major factor when it comes to your metabolic health.
See, as you get older, you lose muscle, thereby slowing metabolism. Muscle is a major factor when it comes to metabolism, as you will see.
Males have a faster metabolism than females. Guess why? You’re right. Because males generally have more lean muscle mass than females.
They also have large bones and less body fat which are critical metabolism factors .
Genes decide your muscle size and body’s ability to bulk lean muscle mass . So they also play a role in metabolism
Other factors that affect metabolism include physical activities like walking, running, and playing. These activities aid the body in burning extra calories.
What Are the Signs of Slow Metabolism?
Signs of slow metabolism include feeling fatigued even after a good night's sleep, having severe migraines, continuous headaches, thin hair, dry skin, and brittle nails.
Most of these issues are caused by an inactive thyroid gland, a critical organ that produces triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), hormones that control metabolism .
Even with frequent physical activity and a healthy diet, you may still gain weight if your metabolism is slow.
The most probable cause of this is hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is when there’s insufficient thyroid hormone in your bloodstream, resulting in slow metabolism.
Another common sign is constipation which is the apparent result of your body taking its time to process food.
And when the problem gets into your mind, it impacts your mood and may result in depression .
If you’re experiencing these signs, you can still reverse your fate. This takes us to our next topic.
What Drinks Increase Metabolism?
Drinks like water, green tea, coffee, and high-protein beverages increase metabolism. They promote satiety, and people who drink them end up consuming fewer calories.
Other drinks include apple cider vinegar, vegetable juice, and ginger tea.
Does Cold Water Increase Metabolism?
Yes, cold water increases metabolism. Recent studies have revealed that drinking half a liter of water increases metabolism by 10-30% for an hour.
Additional research proved that cold water's calorie-burning effect was even more remarkable since the body uses energy to heat it to average body temperature .
Does Lemon Water Burn Fat?
Yes, lemon water promotes fat burning. It boosts metabolism, promotes fullness, supports hydration, and helps in weight management.
Is Guava Good for Weight Loss?
Guava is one of the best fruits for weight loss because it's packed with fiber, which can induce the feeling of fullness. Guava contains vitamin C, which plays an important role in fat oxidation.
Is Tomato Juice Good for Weight Loss?
Tomato juice can be good for weight loss. Tomato juice is low in calories and can aid in weight loss when consumed in moderation, but watch out for added sugars and sodium in store-bought versions.
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