The metabolism is a very important bodily process. It is tasked with turning the calories a person takes in from food and beverages into energy. It does this by converting sustenance into specific nutrients that are then used in different ways. The calories that are consumed are combined with oxygen and released as energy into the body. That energy is required for every other process – which is what makes the metabolism so vital.
Even when the body is doing nothing at all, it needs energy. Everything from breathing and blood circulation to hormone levels and cell growth and repair all rely heavily on how much energy is within the body. The basic functioning carried out while the body is completely at rest is called the basal metabolic rate.
When a person is active, the level of required energy changes. This is why those who move more often require more calories to function. There are varying degrees of metabolic function, too; those with a higher-level metabolism burn more calories at rest than those with a low metabolism. But can you boost your metabolism yourself? And if so, what foods can you eat to do this?
The rate of your metabolism is genetic, so what you’re born with is generally what you’re stuck with. Of course, there are some caveats, such as age. As people get older, their metabolism tends to slow down. This can be attributed to some factors such as less activity, muscle loss, and certain cellular processes that lose efficiency as you age, thus slowing down your metabolism.
However, there are certain ways the metabolism can be manipulated into switching into a higher gear. Metabolism is greatly affected by exercise levels, so by moving more, you can increase your metabolic rate. Research has shown that exercises such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a great metabolism booster. You can also use the food you eat for energy as a way to boost your metabolism.
Not all calories are created equally; some can help to keep your metabolism burning at a higher rate. If you’re wondering what foods can speed up your metabolism, you have to look at the key nutrients and vitamins in each type of food. These play a vital role in all bodily processes, and can help to determine the difference between a slow or fast metabolic process.
Foods that are high in protein are a great addition to the diet if you’re looking to boost your metabolism. Foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts and seeds are all great sources of protein. The reason protein is so important for metabolism is because it uses more of the body’s energy to digest. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Studies have found that when the body digests protein and uses that additional energy, it can raise the metabolic rate by 15–30%.
These essential minerals play vital roles in many processes, but they are particularly great aids in speeding up the metabolism. This is because they all contribute to the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Since the thyroid gland regulates metabolism, foods such as meat, seafood, legumes, and nuts and seeds can all aid in boosting metabolic function.
Capsaicin is a chemical compound found in chili peppers. Research has found that the compound can lead to an increased metabolism by increasing the amount of calories the body burns per day.
Caffeine can be found in many beverages, such as tea and coffee, as well as chocolate. Research has shown that consuming 270 mg or more of caffeine per day can lead to an extra 100 calories burned. When it comes to tea, the best kinds to choose from for metabolism-boosting effects are oolong and green tea. Research has shown that both of those teas can lead to a 4–10% increase in metabolism.
Ginger is a spice that is well-known for its effects in soothing nausea, but it can also help to boost metabolism. Other spices that have been shown to help boost metabolism include grains of paradise and cayenne pepper.
Coconut oil has been used widely in recent years because of the many health claims surrounding it. It can be used topically (i.e. on the skin) or with food. When consumed, it can help to speed up the metabolism because of its high level of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Research has shown that MCTs increase metabolic rate.
Water may not seem like a metabolism-boosting food, but research has found that staying hydrated with H20 can actually increase metabolic rates by 24–30%. This is likely due to the fact that the body needs to use energy to heat the water to body temperature. However, the effects of water on the metabolism are typically temporary.
Avocado is considered a “superfruit” because of its many health benefits. It can also help to boost metabolism because of its high content of healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats are burned at a higher rate than other types of fats, thus speeding up the metabolism.
Boosting the metabolism isn’t always easy, especially considering the complex nature of the process. However, consuming certain foods can be a helpful aid in increasing the rate at which the body burns calories, particularly when combined with other lifestyle factors such as exercising.