Metabolism is a term that describes the chemical processes that occur in our bodies to keep us alive and well. It is the process that converts what we eat and drink into energy.
However, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn. The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off.
Having a high metabolism can also provide you with a steady source of energy and make you feel better. There are certain foods that help to maintain a higher metabolic rate and help manage your body weight.
Here are 11 foods to help boost your metabolism.
Eating food can increase your metabolism for a few hours, this is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). This effect is caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal. Protein causes the largest rise in TEF. It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fat. 1
Eating more protein can also reduce the drop in metabolism often associated with losing fat. This is because it reduces muscle loss, which is a common side effect of dieting.2
2. Chili peppers
Chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin that can boost metabolism and increase the number of calories that burns during the chemical reaction and help in weight reduction.3
3. Legumes and pulses
All the beans (red bean, white beans, black-eyed beans, navy beans) chickpeas, black grains, lentils, and green peas are rich in protein, iron, fiber, resistant starch and some body-friendly trans fats. As they are rich in proteins that ultimately boost the metabolism and help in weight reduction by increasing the number of calories burned during the chemical reaction and help in weight loss.
Coffee is a good source of caffeine, which helps in boosting the metabolic rate.4 Caffeine helps the body burn fat for the energy required for metabolic processes of the body and also enhance our working potential.
Black coffee also contains antioxidants that help in skin repairing and cell damage and also decrease the risk of life danger diseases e.g. heart diseases, hypertension etc.
Tea contains caffeine and catechins, both of which help boost metabolism and increase the rate of burning of fat molecules that provide energy during digestion. While both of these chemicals can facilitate weight loss, green tea in particular appears to have very good efficacy for weight control.5
6. Iron, zinc and selenium-containing foods
Iron, zinc and selenium are present in legumes, lentils, sesame seeds, nuts and seafood. All three of these essential minerals have different functions in the body. Iron helps the body turn food into energy and burn calories by transporting oxygen throughout the whole body. This enables metabolism to occur because oxygen is essential for chemical reactions that burn calories. A function these three minerals share is supporting healthy thyroid gland function, which produces the hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine is required for normal metabolism and helps the body to burns extra calories.6
7. Cold water
Studies show that drinking cold water also helps in boosting metabolism. Our bodies like to maintain a constant temperature internally, so drinking cold water stimulates the body to burn calories in order to heat the water to body temperature. This is a very short-term effect and lasts for only an hour and a half.
8. Vegetables and fruits
Many vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts contain vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, and water. Vitamin B, vitamin C and calcium help to speed up the body’s metabolism while the combination of water and fiber helps to increase the fat-burning process in your body.7
Flax, hemp and sesame seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that lower inflammation and boost the body’s blood flow, hence increasing metabolism.8 Seeds are also a very good source of iron and selenium, which increase the production of thyroxine and ultimately speed up metabolism.
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews and other nuts are rich in protein that helps in boosting the metabolism by enhancing fat burning which is necessary for the complete digestion of protein.
11. Oats and whole grains
Oats and other whole-grain cereals are one of the best options for breakfast. They are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. They also help to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. As they are an excellent source of fiber, the energy used to digest whole grains help to boost metabolism.9
- Pesta, D. H., & Samuel, V. T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & metabolism, 11(1), 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
- Wycherley, T. P., Moran, L. J., Clifton, P. M., Noakes, M., & Brinkworth, G. D. (2012). Effects of energy-restricted high-protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 96(6), 1281–1298. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.044321
- Zheng, J., Zheng, S., Feng, Q., Zhang, Q., & Xiao, X. (2017). Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications. Bioscience reports, 37(3), BSR20170286. https://doi.org/10.1042/BSR20170286
- Acheson, K. J., Zahorska-Markiewicz, B., Pittet, P., Anantharaman, K., & Jéquier, E. (1980). Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 33(5), 989–997.
- Auvichayapat, P., Prapochanung, M., Tunkamnerdthai, O., Sripanidkulchai, B. O., Auvichayapat, N., Thinkhamrop, B., Kunhasura, S., Wongpratoom, S., Sinawat, S., & Hongprapas, P. (2008). Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial. Physiology & behavior, 93(3), 486–491. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.10.009
- Mullur, R., Liu, Y. Y., & Brent, G. A. (2014). Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism. Physiological reviews, 94(2), 355–382. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00030.2013
- Crichton-Stuart, C. (2018, July 31). Vitamins and minerals that boost metabolism. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322644#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
- Simopoulos A. P. (2016). An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients, 8(3), 128. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8030128
- Nichols, H. (2017, Feb 9) Whole grains increase metabolism, may help promote weight loss. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315744