Your metabolism is like a furnace.
It’s your body’s way of converting food into the energy you need to do everything. Fast metabolism is like a hot furnace; it burns through food quickly to help keep the body running. The opposite is true for slow metabolism. Slow metabolism doesn’t require as much food for fuel because the body isn’t using that much energy.
I think it’s safe to say we all wish we could have the metabolism of a teenage boy who can eat two hamburgers, fries, and a milkshake without putting on a pound. But the reality is once you’re an adult, your metabolism starts to decline. (#Adulting strikes again!) So it’s no surprise that we’re always looking for ways to boost our metabolism.
There are so many factors that determine the efficiency of our metabolism. Sleep, hormones, genetics, and muscle mass are all key players. But how about the food we eat? Here are the top 10 foods that can rev up your metabolism and get it burning at an optimal level.
Top 10 Metabolism-Boosting Foods
Fish, eggs, lean meat, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all protein-rich foods that can help boost your metabolism. Protein is a good aid since your body naturally requires more energy to digest protein in comparison to carbohydrates and fats. In fact, research shows that protein-rich foods increase your body’s metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats.
Aim for a protein source at each meal. An average portion size is four to six ounces. Remember to balance out your meal with complex carbs, veggies, and healthy fats.
2. Chili Peppers
Spice up your life! Capsaicin, an antioxidant in chili peppers, may boost your metabolism and help curb your appetite. Red chili flakes are easy to add to almost anything: avocado toast, eggs, salad, soup… The possibilities are endless. Sprinkle that stuff like confetti!
That’s right: I’m giving you permission to pour yourself another cup of coffee. Caffeine found in coffee can help increase your metabolic rate. Research shows consuming 100 milligrams of caffeine can increase metabolism up to 11%. Just remember that some individuals are able to tolerate caffeine better than others. If you’re prone to getting the jitters, it may be best to opt for decaf. Also, be cautious of sugar levels in coffee drinks. Your best option is black coffee, or mixing a cup with milk or creamer with minimal ingredients.
Celery has the reputation of having negative calories. While that’s not exactly true, celery is low in calories and high in fiber. It takes a lot of work for your body to process all that fiber. The entire digestive process raises your metabolic rate as it efficiently tries to absorb, store, and eliminate. As it happens, celery makes for the ultimate vessel for delicious dips and spread. Get creative by spreading them with nut or seed butters, or enjoy some stalks with your favorite hummus.
Grapefruit is high in both vitamin C and fiber, both of which play important roles in metabolism. Research shows grapefruit can even help with weight loss and lowering insulin levels. One intriguing study in particular reports that those who eat half a grapefruit with each meal can lose up to 3.6 pounds, while those who drink a serving of grapefruit juice three times a day can lose 3.3 pounds. Bonus: These results don’t require making any other dietary changes. Impressive!
Grapefruits are more bitter than other citrus fruits, but this trick might help! Slice them in half and rub the surface with a little coconut oil before sprinkling with cinnamon. Then, place them under the broiler for two to four minutes until slightly golden.
6. Green Tea
Catechins are the antioxidants in green tea to thank for boosting metabolism and helping with weight loss. Paired with the caffeine in green tea, this duo can rev up your metabolism and help your body burn stored fat for energy. You can try swapping out your morning coffee for matcha green tea. If that’s not an option, try having a cup of green tea after lunch. It’s a nice alternative to an afternoon coffee to help get you through the workday.
Cinnamon has the ability to stabilize blood sugar, but new research suggests it can also help improve metabolism. The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon boosts the body’s thermogenesis (aka the burn from the digestion process). I suggest incorporating at least a quarter teaspoon per day. Sprinkle cinnamon in your oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, or on an apple when that 3 p.m. hunger hits.
Seaweed is rich in iodine, which indirectly boosts your metabolism by supporting your thyroid. The thyroid is responsible for producing the hormones that regulate your metabolism. When your thyroid isn’t functioning at an optimal level, it can cause your metabolism to slow down. Along with zinc and selenium, iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid support.
Seaweed is a bit difficult to incorporate daily, but it can be done. Sprinkle dulse flakes on your salad, eggs, or avocado toast. Otherwise, add kombu to your grains or beans while they’re cooking. Every once in a while, order a seaweed salad with your sushi.
9. Coconut Oil
What can’t coconut oil do? Coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The liver takes these fatty acids to use as energy rather than storing them away for fat. MCTs are able to increase the metabolic rate more so than long-chain fatty acids. It’s best to replace some of the oil you already consume—especially vegetable oils—with MCT oil. It’s easy to overdo it, so aim for just one to three tablespoons per day.
Okay, so water technically isn’t a food, but it’s immensely important for optimally functioning metabolism. When you’re dehydrated, your metabolism can slow by 3%. Additionally, drinking cold water may also temporarily boost metabolism by 24–30%. This benefit is partly due to your body working to heat up the cold liquid to body temperature.
Aim for half of your body weight in ounces of water per day as a minimum. This measure will vary from person to person and increase if you’re active, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
While these foods can help rev up your metabolism, it’s important to remember that there’s more to the equation. Adding these foods throughout your day is a great way to get an extra boost while also getting in a variety of healthy foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When it comes to having an efficient metabolism, getting enough sleep, balancing your hormones, and increasing your muscle mass also play crucial roles. It’s important to address these areas if you want an optimally functioning metabolism. But in the meantime, don’t shy away from adding those chili flakes to your avocado toast.