If you are someone trying to lose weight, you may have heard this term thrown around quite a lot: Metabolism.
To many people, metabolism is almost like a miraculous machine that can be hacked and manipulated to help lose weight. While genetics plays a big part in our metabolism and therefore out of our control, there are foods that can boost our metabolism (but not to the extent that you will see significant weight loss). But before we get anyone’s hopes up, let’s understand what metabolism is (and the myth many fall prey to).
What Is Metabolism?
Metabolism is defined as the process by which the body changes food and drink into energy. Think of it as an engine in which we need to add fuel to keep it rolling. We rely on our metabolism to get us through everyday activities, especially breathing, thinking, digesting, circulating blood and regulating temperature. It also plays role in maintaining a healthy weight after weight loss.
Having a slow or fast metabolism relates a lot to how someone loses weight. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn. By burning more energy, you can increase your metabolic rate which helps you burn more fat and as a result, lose or maintain weight. However, what people don’t realize is that your metabolism doesn’t have a direct relationship to weight loss. There are many variables that affect our metabolic rate, such as our age, gender and genetics.
You should be boosting your metabolism not for the sake of weight loss, but to stay healthy and functional on the inside, so you can digest food and absorb nutrients without having issues like inflammation or high blood pressure. There is no shortcut to losing weight.
With that being said, let’s get into the foods that boost your metabolism and keep you feeling healthy and functional on the inside. Again, these should be eaten in moderation.
Citrus foods such as oranges, lemons, strawberries, pineapple, mango and papaya are best for metabolic health because they are full of antioxidants (molecules that neutralize free radicals). They are also a rich source of vitamin c, which aids in the absorption of Iron (which is important for healthy metabolism).
If you love eating spicy food, you’ll be glad to hear that they also boost your metabolic rate. They contain a compound called capsaicin which not only gives you a tasty kick in your food but also boosts beneficial effects for heart function and overall inflammation, protecting you from disease as well as regulating your insulin levels.
High fiber foods
While fiber is commonly known to help promote a healthy digestive system, increasing your overall intake of fiber also boosts your metabolic health. High fiber foods, such as broccoli, apples and nuts take much longer to chew and keeps you feeling full for longer. This prevents you from overeating, which puts stress on your system, causes inflammation and makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight for your body.
Because fiber takes a long time to digest, your body has to work harder to break it down. Oats are another great source of fiber and essential vitamins/minerals. They keep your insulin levels low after eating, preventing blood sugar spikes which signals the body to store fat. By managing inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and gut health, this all supports your metabolism.
Legumes and beans, such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, black beans and peanuts, are particularly high in protein, making them a great alternative to meat and chicken. Their high protein content makes your body burn more calories to digest them. They also contain a dietary fiber which your body can use as a prebiotic to feed the good bacteria living in your large intestine. In doing so, that friendly bacteria uses stored fat as energy and maintains normal blood sugar levels.
Iron is also a key component when it comes to the calorie-burning process. By facilitating the flow of oxygen throughout the body, this helps increase energy and metabolism. According to health experts, including one cup of lentils into your diet provides 35% of your daily iron needs, protein and fiber.
If you can’t quite say no to chicken and lean meats, you don’t have to. Eating good lean meats like white meat chicken and turkey also requires more energy to fully digest. All that protein helps preserve your muscle mass to keep your metabolism at its peak.
Oily fish is also a great protein source but has a bonus beneficial effect. Whether you eat salmon or tuna, they contain omega-3 fatty acid, which is said to drastically decrease inflammation, increase HDL cholesterol (the good type) and helps maintain brain function.
Many spices are known to rev up your metabolism, including cinnamon. Cinnamon reduces sugar cravings which helps balance your blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Yogurt is a great source of good gut bacteria which encourages better digestion. It also controls your appetite and regulates your blood glucose levels, so that your cells can function at optimum levels and boost your metabolism.
Bonus: Drinks that boost your metabolism
Nothing like a cup of non-caffeinated tea to boost your metabolism. Green tea is rich with antioxidants, which protect your cells and keep your metabolism going.
While coffee works as a great stimulant to get you through the day, it’s also great for boosting your metabolism (even if it’s a small increase). Every little helps.
There are many factors that affect our metabolism, but there’s no harm in helping the process along. While there are many myths circulating around metabolism (such as eating late slows down your metabolism or eating small meals boosts your metabolism), a helpful tip would be to stay balanced in both your exercise and food.
Remove anything in your lifestyle that could affecting you negatively.
Whether you are at a desired weight or not, you should focus primarily on improving your nutrition and adding in exercise to your daily routine rather than the need to lose weight fast.
No matter how many new crash diets or hacks are spread across the internet, there is no shortcut or quick fix. You will only end up losing more energy with reduced calories and compensating for it with your muscles. It’s up to you to keep a healthy mindset and body.