Metabolism is defined as the process through which chemical changes in living cells create energy. Basically, metabolism is the rate at which your body converts the foods you eat into fuel. This fuel is then used for everything from the heart pumping blood throughout the body, to taking a shower, to your digestive system breaking down food for more energy.
If you want to maximize your metabolism there are foods (and drinks) that can help. You may be eating some of these foods already, not even knowing they are metabolism boosters!
One huge way to positively impact metabolism is to cut out the foods that slow it down. Processed foods and foods high in sugar and empty calories do nothing to fuel the body. They drag you down and can interfere with the body’s function in both the short-term and long-term.
Learn more in this article about avoiding processed foods.
Replacing these foods with nutrient-rich choices will not just increase your metabolism, you will be able to see and feel the improvements they make in your body.
The first major metabolism booster is readily available everywhere and best of all – it’s free. It’s water!
Researchers in Germany found that by drinking 48 ounces of cold water daily, metabolism can be increased by as much as 50 calories per day. This means your body will naturally burn 50 more calories per day simply by drinking water. This is thought to be due to the effort it takes to bring the cold water up to body temperature.
According to studies conducted by the University of Wisconsin and by the Mayo Clinic, you can also help boost metabolism by consuming omega-3 fatty acids.
University of Wisconsin researchers found that omega-3’s help to reduce the amount of a hormone called leptin. In the study, when leptin levels decreased, metabolism increased.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic also noted that a diet high in omega-3’s had similar positive effects on metabolism—again due to lower leptin levels in the body. Salmon, mackerel, walnuts, even fresh basil are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Looking to spice things up? Raw and cooked hot peppers— like jalapeno and habanero—can spike metabolism naturally. This also goes for chili powder, cayenne pepper, even black pepper.
Have you ever experienced sweating while eating spicy foods? The capsaicin (what we perceive as the “heat” in a pepper) causes this reaction when it speeds up blood circulation and metabolic rate. As a bonus, hot peppers have also been found to reduce cravings.
Green tea has been touted as a health improver for many years. Its antioxidant properties help protect the body against free radical damage. This reduces risk for all sorts of illnesses, from heart disease to cancer.
Research has also shown that green tea increases thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the rate at which the body burns calories while digesting food. An increase in this rate can improve metabolic rate, as well.
Metabolism tanks with processed foods that are high in refined sugar, but whole grains can help improve metabolism. The carbohydrates in whole grain foods (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) are released more slowly into the blood stream, preventing blood sugar spikes and stabilizing insulin levels.
Speaking of insulin levels, a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research found that Type II diabetes patients who took a 1,000 milligram Vitamin C supplement experienced fewer blood sugar spikes over a 6 week period. Other studies have also shown that diets rich in Vitamin C reduce insulin spikes while also increasing metabolism.
Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes are all rich in vitamin C, but should be enjoyed in moderation as they are high glycemic. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are lower glycemic options that still pack a nutritious punch.
Check out this Diabetic Kitchen recipe for Raspberry Slushie Two Ways!
Starting your day off with a good breakfast is key to revving your metabolism. When you eat a nutrient-rich breakfast that’s high in protein and fiber, it gets your body going and keeps it going. This morning kick-start is crucial to a healthy metabolism.
Lastly, some may think that by cutting calories, you will improve metabolism and lose weight. In reality, the opposite will occur. When you don’t consume enough calories, your metabolism actually slows down.
The body can go into “starvation-survival mode” and tries to hold on to fat cells in an attempt to fuel itself. This is a huge reason why you’ve heard the term “yo-yo diets” – your body weight will go down then back up, over and over.
The moral of the metabolism story is to eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients, antioxidants, protein and fiber. Drink plenty of water, reduce processed foods, and be physically active. Enjoy these metabolism boosting foods and tips, as well, for a maximized metabolism.