Metabolism is defined as the process by which your body converts the foods that you eat and drink into energy.
It’s a complicated process that’s impacted by a variety of factors such as body size, body composition, gender, and age. Individuals with larger bodies, and greater ratios of muscle to fat, burn more calories. Men usually have less body fat than women of the same age so they burn more calories. And because the amount of muscle mass decreases with age, while fat mass increases, your metabolism slows down as you get older.
Most of us would probably love to have a speedy metabolism where we could eat as much as we want without experiencing any negative impacts to our waistlines. Unfortunately, this isn’t reality despite what all the television commercials tell us. But there are some foods you can eat to help boost your metabolism. The foods discussed below have been proven to give your metabolism a jumpstart.
For good reason, every nutrition 101 course teaches you that water is an important part of a healthy diet. A 2003 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that in 14 healthy, normal-weight subjects, drinking 500 mL of water increased their metabolic rate by 30%. The increased metabolism occurred within 10 minutes of drinking the water and reached a maximum after 30 to 40 minutes of water consumption.
While this study is beneficial for reaffirming the goodness of water, there are some obvious shortcomings to note. For one, the study had an incredibly small sample size of 7 men and 7 women. So while the metabolisms of the participants increased by 30%, we can’t say with certainty that this would happen for a majority of the population. But that doesn’t mean that water is useless.
In fact, water is so important that it’s needed in order to carry out almost every cellular process in your body. Water aids in digestion, absorption, circulation, saliva creation, nutrient transportation, and body temperature maintenance. It also energizes your muscles by helping your cells maintain their fluid and electrolyte balance during exercise thereby preventing fatigue. It also helps your skin look good, assists in proper kidney function, and helps form bowel movements. Therefore, dehydration impairs your body’s ability to carry out all of these processes. As a result, your metabolism is impacted. So drink up for a boosted metabolism and improved health!
In general, research has shown that meals containing spicy dishes boost metabolism. This is because of capsaicin, the phytochemical that’s responsible for the spiciness of the peppers that are often incorporated into these types of dishes. Capsaicin can be found in jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne peppers, and a majority of other chili peppers.
The temporary rise in metabolism after eating spicy dishes is the result of increases in body heat. Other studies, however, speculate that it isn’t the actual act of eating spicy foods that increases your metabolic rate. Instead, they hypothesize that spicy foods make you feel fuller sooner which is why you lose weight. Less caloric intake means better weight maintenance and even weight loss.
Research demonstrates that the effects of spicy food on metabolism is the strongest for individuals who don’t normally eat spicy foods. Of equal note is that you would have to eat a lot of capsaicin in order for it to have a meaningful impact on your metabolism. So capsaicin consumption may not be the full proof plan towards a boosted metabolism. Regardless, capsaicin is good for other things. It can actually cause the blood vessels to dilate thereby having a blood pressure lowering effect. So even if you don’t see the benefit of capsaicin in your waistline, you may just reap the benefits in terms of heart health!
Although it’s a type of pepper, black pepper doesn’t contain any capsaicin in it. Instead, black pepper contains the active ingredient piperine which is responsible for giving it its flavor. A 2012 study published in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that piperine actually prevented the formation of new fat cells. The only caveat is that the effect has only been studied in mouse and rat cells, not human cells. Therefore, there’s no direct proof that it will also inhibit fat cell creation in people.
Protein has been shown to have a metabolic boosting effect because it requires your body to burn more calories while digesting it versus other types of food, like carbohydrates. In other words, protein requires more energy for digestion compared to other food groups. From this perspective, eating protein can also boost your metabolism.
But protein does far more than simply boost your metabolism. It’s used as the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, enzymes, hormones and vitamins. Protein also provides iron which is used to carry oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body. So eat protein not just for a boosted metabolism, but also for better health!
We all know that the ingredient responsible for giving you energy when you drink coffee is caffeine. Not only does caffeine help you stay awake when you’re tired but it can also help you maintain a healthy weight. A 2011 meta-analysis found that caffeine supplementation significantly increased the body’s energy expenditure over a period of 24 hours due to its ability to boost energy and decrease the individual’s perceived physical exertion.
Although caffeine is known for its benefits as a form of energy, it does have its drawbacks. For one, caffeine is an addictive substance and individuals who have given up caffeine have reported experiencing withdrawal including cramping and headaches. It has also been linked to learning deficits, anxiety, panic attacks and even hallucinations if doses greater than 300 mg are taken a day. So while caffeine may potentially help your waistline, it isn’t wise to go overboard with it.
Catechin rich teas, such as green tea, have been found to aid in weight loss and boost energy expenditure. In particular, the catechin-caffeine combination in green tea has been found to be most beneficial in weight maintenance. In the same meta-analysis referenced under the benefits of caffeine, the catechin-caffeine mixture not only increased energy expenditure significantly but it also increased fat metabolism. Additionally, teas may alter gut bacteria and gene expression to help reduce fat absorption.
Based on current research, the aforementioned foods have all been shown to boost metabolism to some extent. But it’s important to note that while all of these foods have been proven to increase metabolism, in most cases, the boost is too minimal to have a meaningful impact on weight. In other words, it’s not likely that eating all of these foods alone will make you skinny or help you drop weight.
That isn’t to say that these foods aren’t part of a healthy diet. Most of us could benefit from drinking more water and incorporating a wider variety of foods and spices into our dishes. But the factors that will have the greatest impact on our metabolism are eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality protein coupled with adequate amounts of sleep and regular exercise.
I hope you liked the article. How you take care of your metabolism? Share in the comments.
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