Certain foods contain specific nutrients that increase the body’s metabolism. Metabolism is the rate at which the body burns calories and carries out other processes.
By boosting their metabolic rate, people may be able to shed excess weight and reduce their risk of obesity and related health issues.
Read on to discover 10 of the best metabolism boosting foods, along with some other ways to increase metabolic function.
Protein-rich foods are amongst the best options for boosting metabolism.
Eggs are rich in protein, with each large, hard-boiled egg containing 6.29 grams (g), making them an ideal choice for people who want to speed up their metabolism.
Protein is one of the most effective nutrients for increasing metabolic rate because the body needs to use more energy to digest it than it does for fats or carbohydrates. Scientists call this energy expenditure the thermic effect of food (TEF), or diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT).
Flaxseeds are seeds that contain protein, vitamins, and other key nutrients. Some people consider flaxseeds a “functional food,” which means that people eat them for their health benefits.
Eating flaxseeds could help boost metabolism and improve metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions that contribute to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
At present, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is funding research into the role of flaxseeds for metabolic syndrome.
A 2019 study on mice indicates that flaxseeds may boost metabolism. This is probably because they contain good amounts of fiber and protein, along with essential omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients.
The fiber in flaxseeds ferments in the gut to improve the gut’s bacterial profile. This process aids metabolic health, and it may protect against obesity.
Studies suggest that flaxseeds and their nutrients may also help treat or protect against:
Lentils are another functional food that may reduce the effects of metabolic syndrome.
A 2016 review of 41 animal studies reports that eating lentils and other legumes, such as beans and peas, can play a central role in preventing and treating metabolic syndrome.
Lentils may also increase metabolism because they are rich in protein. They also contain good amounts of fiber to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Spicy meals that contain fresh or dried chili peppers can increase metabolism and a feeling of fullness. A compound in peppers, called capsaicin, is responsible for these health benefits and more.
A 2015 study reports that eating capsaicin boosts metabolic rate modestly.
The research also suggests that the compound can contribute to weight management in other ways by increasing the speed at which the body burns fat and reducing appetite.
This builds on existing research, published in 2012, which indicates that capsaicin helps the body to burn approximately 50 extra calories each day.
Capsaicin may also reduce pain and inflammation, act as an anticancer agent, and provide antioxidant benefits. As a result, some researchers suggest that the compound may help treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Adding ginger to meals could increase body temperature and metabolic rate, and help control appetite.
A 2018 review of studies evaluated ginger’s effects on weight loss and metabolic profiles in people who were overweight. It found that the spice may help to reduce body weight and fasting glucose levels while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
Green tea has received plenty of attention in recent years as researchers have shed light on its potential health benefits.
Several studies suggest that green tea extract (GTE) may increase fat metabolism both at rest and during exercise. However, other research reports no notable effects. Furthermore, scientists cannot guarantee that drinking green tea would have the same results as taking GTE.
A small-scale 2013 study involving 63 people with type 2 diabetes suggests that drinking 4 cups of green tea daily can significantly reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist size, and systolic blood pressure.
Other proposed health benefits of green tea include:
- anti-inflammatory effects
- antioxidant properties
- antimicrobial activity
- anticancer effects
- benefits for heart and oral health
Coffee can stimulate metabolism thanks to its caffeine content.
Research reports that caffeine intake has a stimulating effect on energy expenditure and can lead to increased metabolism. However, it is essential to be mindful of total consumption. Learn about how much caffeine is too much, here.
Decaffeinated coffee does not have the same metabolism boosting benefits. Also, adding cream or sugar will increase its calorie content, which may work against the caffeine’s beneficial effects on metabolism.
Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium, a mineral that is essential for metabolism, reproduction, and immune function. They also contain protein and healthful fats to make people feel fuller.
Selenium is especially important for the thyroid gland, a gland that regulates metabolic function and produces several vital hormones.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), each Brazil nut provides 68 to 91 micrograms (mcg) of selenium, which is more than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 55 mcg per day.
People should avoid eating too many nuts, however, as this can cause selenium toxicity. The NIH set upper limits of selenium intake at 400 mcg.
Research also suggests that Brazil nuts can improve the cholesterol levels of healthy people. Abnormal cholesterol levels are a marker of metabolic syndrome.
Broccoli may benefit metabolism because it contains a substance called glucoraphanin.
Glucoraphanin helps to “retune” metabolism, lower blood fat levels, and reduce the risk of many age-related diseases. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may also prevent or slow down several forms of cancer.
For more significant metabolism enhancing effects, look for Beneforte broccoli, which contains high levels of glucoraphanin.
Spinach, kale, and other leafy green vegetables may boost metabolism thanks to their iron content. Iron is an essential mineral for metabolism, growth, and development.
Leafy greens are a source of non-heme, or non-animal, iron. Try pairing leafy greens with a source of vitamin C — such as lemon, tomatoes, or winter squash — to increase the body’s absorption of this type of iron.
Eating a healthful diet is essential for regulating metabolism. Other ways to boost metabolic function include:
According to one small-scale study, drinking an extra 1,500 milliliters (ml) of water daily can decrease body weight and BMI in some people who are overweight. Participants drank 500 ml before each meal.
The researchers suggest that this is due to water-induced thermogenesis, where water increases metabolism.
Getting enough sleep is essential for metabolism and overall health.
Research suggests that a lack of sleep may be contributing to the trend of increasing obesity and diabetes, which are consequences of metabolic syndrome.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night. To improve sleep patterns, try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Strength and resistance training
Lifting weights regularly allows people to gain and retain muscle mass and to burn fat. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults should perform strengthening exercises 2 or more days each week.
A 2018 study on sedentary women found that resistance training increased the overall basal metabolic rate (BMR) for up to 48 hours. BMR refers to the number of calories that the body burns while resting.
Many foods, including green vegetables, chili peppers, and protein sources, can boost metabolism and help people achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
For optimum results, eat these foods as part of a balanced diet.
Other lifestyle changes that improve metabolic health include drinking enough water, getting adequate sleep, and exercise activities.