The Best Foods to Boost Your Metabolism
Besides being dull and labour-intensive, meticulously counting calories is pretty out-dated weight loss approach. Your body is an intricate chemistry lab, after all – not a bank account. Different foods trigger a range of metabolic responses in your body. While the wrong food choices can make your metabolism lethargic and sluggish, the right foods can actually rev it up, helping you maintain a happy, healthy weight. Here are some of our top picks to boost your metabolism.
Not just a staple of beauty buffs, green tea boasts impressive weight-loss credentials. This warming beverage is rich in antioxidants called ‘catechins’ – potent compounds that may reduce inflammation associated with weight loss resistance and weight gain i. That’s not all, though – green tea supercharges your primary fat-burning hormone, too ii. Sip on it hot or cold – and hold back on the sweeter and switch to decaf in the afternoon, so the caffeine doesn’t disrupt your quest for rest.
This versatile condiment is really having its moment in the health and wellness world of late – and rightly so. Aside from doubling up as sun protection, dental support, and an ultra-soothing moisturiser, coconut oil also wields the power to boost your metabolism. Comprised of healthy fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), coconut oil doesn’t only help your body burn fat, but it also supports blood sugar control, and thereby naturally curbs your cravings iii iv. Adding a dollop to dishes can help to banish those in-between-meal-munchies and save you from loading up on extra calories. Smoothies and protein shakes are a perfect canvas for a spoonful of coconut oil. Oh, and save the extra virgin for salads – coconut oil is brilliant for cooking with at high temperatures because it retains its goodness.
That morning cuppa java won’t just wake you up; it will increase your metabolic rate by 11%, too v. In fact, six different studies discovered that individuals who drank around 3 cups of coffee daily burned an extra 100 calories vi. Can’t seem to muster the motivation for that last 10 minutes of your workout? Have a cup of joe. Studies suggest caffeine is also effective at boosting exercise endurance, helping your body burn fat for energy vii. Sadly, this isn’t permission to indulge in that caramel cocoa cluster frappuccino blended coffee, though. Drinking straight-up, quality coffee is the best way to reap its fat-burning fruits. Pass on the artificial sweeteners and cream.
Can you handle the heat? It’s time to spice things up, then! Besides giving food a sharp kick, the capsaicin in chilli peppers has been shown to increase metabolic function and dampen appetite viii. A review of 20 investigations found that capsaicin consumption could help your body zap an additional 50 calories per day ix. When in doubt, add a sprinkling of cayenne pepper – it always makes for a distinctively delicious component of meals. And next time you’re perusing the chocolate aisle, why not go for dark chilli chocolate instead of the traditional kind? It’s a truly explosive flavour combination.
Want another reason to douse your morning porridge in cinnamon? Listen up. This sensational ‘spice of life’ serves up a slew of delicious health benefits, including improving insulin sensitivity, which can prevent your body from storing fat x. Better still, this store-cupboard essential is brimming with manganese – a powerful weapon for metabolising carbs and fat xi. Cinnamon is a perfect partner for smoothies, stewed fruit, baked goods or simply sprinkled on your cappuccino.
Salmon is an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are nature’s best anti-inflammatories. A raft of scientific research suggests our fishy friend can increase metabolic rate, promote weight loss, and even reduce belly fat xii. Plus, this lean, clean protein supports satiety, meaning it will keep you feeling fuller for longer, as well as helping you maintain muscle as you zap fat xiii. Wondering what to look for on the fish counter? Go for wild over farmed salmon where possible. It’s much better for you and the environment.
Fibrous and filling, lentils might just be the best legume going, especially when it comes to weight loss and metabolic function. A recent study highlighted a daily serving of lentils can result in both lower cholesterol levels and weight loss xiv. Alongside its all-star health credentials – its nine essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins – the rich fibre content in lentils helps you feel satisfied and full. So you can say goodbye cravings and hello to effortless weight management! Lentils are oh-so-versatile, complementing soups, stews and dahls wonderfully.
Chock-full of protein, healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and fibre, avocados are a tried-and-tested superfood. You see, the humble avo won’t just crank up the nutritional value of meals; it’s thought to combat metabolic syndrome, too, thanks to its far-reaching anti-obesity properties xv. That’s not all – this butter berry also delivers a healthy hit of satiating fat, meaning you’ll feel full and satisfied after one serving. Add a spoonful to your morning smoothie, slice on wholegrain toast, or smash into guacamole with a good squeeze of lime – whatever you fancy, the avocado never fails to impress.
We’ve all heard the rumours about calorie-busting celery, haven’t we? This verdant veggie is so low in calories it requires a lot of noshing for your body to digest it, slashing calories in the process. But its fat-burning credentials don’t end there; these tall, regal stalks are also jam-packed with fibre and water, which help shift your metabolism into a higher gear. Enjoy these crunchy fellas with a dollop of hummus, chopped into salads, or stuffed with cream cheese.
Water really is the secret to optimal health – and your waistline isn’t exempt. Even mild dehydration can make your metabolism sluggish. According to a study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, drinking cold water compels your body to use more calories in order to heat it up xvi. If straight-up H20 isn’t your thing, add sliced lemon, mint or cucumber to encourage you to guzzle more (plus, it feels fancy, right?). Upping your aqua intake isn’t a huge step, but it all counts.
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Keri Filtness has worked in the Nutrition Industry for 19 years. She is regularly called upon for her professional comments on health and nutrition related news. Her opinions have been featured by BBC3, Prima, Vitality, The Mirror, Woman’s Own and Cycling Weekly, amongst others. She has also worked one to one with journalists, analysing their diets and health concerns and recommending changes and additions, where appropriate.