5 Metabolism-Boosting Foods
A strong metabolism helps keep weight off, but it also maintains health, supports immunity and prevents premature ageing. Here are five foods to include in your diet to give you a metabolism boost.
Metabolism is the process of turning calories from the foods you eat into useable energy for all the chemical reactions that take place in your body. You depend on your metabolism for vital bodily functions like breathing, digesting foods, regulating your body temperature and circulating blood around the body.
A lot of people associate the benefits of having a fast or strong metabolism with being slim. While a strong metabolism is important for maintaining a healthy weight, it is needed for so much more. You need a strong metabolism for a healthy immune system to support brain function and mood, for optimal energy levels, to improve fertility and to promote longevity. Boosting your metabolism can also help prevent premature ageing and protect your body from chronic disease.
How strong your metabolism is depends on a number of different factors. Genetics plays a big role, along with your body composition (muscle to fat ratio). Muscle burns more calories than fat so if you increase your muscle mass through exercise and weight training, you will help increase your metabolism. Age, gender and how active you are also affect your metabolism. It naturally starts slowing down around the age of 40, so it is recommended to start incorporating certain metabolism-boosting foods and lifestyle habits into your daily life for optimal health and longevity.
Eating a nutritious healthy diet is important for regulating metabolism, along with drinking enough water, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and reducing alcohol and processed foods with refined sugars and oils. Eating the following five foods can also help give your metabolism a boost.
Including ginger in the diet can help rev up your metabolism. Studies have shown that ginger has a thermogenic effect, which means the body must burn kilojoules to digest and absorb it. Ginger is a warming spice that has a characteristic burning sensation when consumed, similar to other pungent spices. These pungent compounds are what give ginger its thermogenic effect.
Studies have also suggested that consuming ginger can help control appetite, improve blood sugar levels and assist with weight loss in overweight people.
One of the best ways to enjoy ginger is as a herbal tea, hot or iced with some fresh lemon. Ginger is a staple in Indian and Thai dishes such as curries, soups and stir-fries. Try adding some fresh ginger to veggie juices and smoothies. Ginger gives a delicious zing to your morning porridge or Bircher muesli, or baked goods and raw desserts.
Green tea has been shown to increase metabolism and fat burning and can help encourage weight loss. Green tea’s positive effect on metabolism and weight loss is due to its combination of a powerful antioxidant unique to green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and its moderate caffeine content.
Green tea has been found to have an anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effect. One study found that drinking four cups of green tea daily can lead to significant weight reduction in people with type-2 diabetes.
Always choose a good-quality organic green tea to enjoy hot or iced.
Chilli contains an active compound called capsaicin that gives chilli its intense pungency and heat, along with its many health benefits. The amount of capsaicin varies among the different varieties of chilli. The smallest chilli peppers are generally the hottest. Jalapeno, serrano and chipotle have a medium heat, and cayenne and Thai chillies are very hot.
Adding chilli to meals can help you burn more calories. The hotter the chilli, the better. Chilli is considered a thermogenic spice that will give your metabolism a boost. This warming spice can raise your internal body temperature and increase fat burning for energy, which is desirable for weight loss.
A study found that when participants consumed capsaicin in chilli, their metabolic rates immediately increased by 20 per cent and were sustained for 30 minutes.
Capsaicin is also a potent anti-inflammatory compound that can help support healthy thyroid function, and it helps stimulate digestive juices to aid the digestive process.
Try making a delicious cleansing chilli tonic to give you a digestion and metabolism boost. In a teapot add hot water, 2 tbsp apple-cider vinegar, the juice of ½ a lemon, a slice of fresh ginger, 1 tsp raw honey and a pinch of cayenne powder. Let your tonic brew for 5 mins then enjoy. Apple-cider vinegar is also considered a metabolism booster.
Add some spice and flavour to pasta dishes, nachos, Thai and Indian curries, lentil dahls, dips, salad dressings, soups, and fish, meat and chicken dishes. Chilli also pairs well with dark chocolate, so try adding a pinch to your next hot cocoa.
Foods rich in protein can help with a metabolism boost and make the body use up more calories during digestion compared to eating foods rich in carbohydrates. Protein also helps to keep blood sugar levels and energy levels balanced, and it helps keep you satisfied and full for longer. Protein also provides vital amino acids which are needed for building lean muscle mass that helps burn calories.
Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of the trace mineral selenium. This important mineral is crucial for healthy thyroid function and for making thyroid hormones. One of the major roles of the thyroid gland is to control metabolism. If the thyroid gland in not working optimally, metabolism will be affected. Making sure your diet contains the right amount of selenium is critical for a healthy metabolism. You only need two Brazil nuts a day to get your daily dose of selenium. Try adding them to a trail mix, natural muesli, granola, protein balls or smoothies.
Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine. This is another important trace mineral essential for healthy thyroid function and production of thyroid hormones, which is required for healthy metabolism.
Studies have shown that certain types of seaweed have anti-obesity effects as they increase the amount of kilojoules you burn. Seaweed contains a brown pigment called fucoxanthin, which has been found to promote weight loss by stimulating a protein that causes the breakdown of fat and conversion of energy to heat.
There’s a wide variety of seaweeds available including kelp, kombu, wakame, nori and dulse that can easily be incorporated into meals. Try kelp noodles, a seaweed salad, miso soup or brown-rice nori rolls. Sprinkle seaweed flakes onto oven-baked chips, homemade chicken nuggets or tacos, or use it to season meats, chicken and fish. You can also add a little kelp powder to your morning green smoothie.
References available on request