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15 Best Healthy Foods To Boost Your Metabolism Naturally

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sarah Brewer, MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC
by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
15 Best Healthy Foods To Boost Your Metabolism Naturally October 8, 2018

Consuming healthy foods is one popular way to boost metabolism. Metabolic slow down may occur due to poor diet, lifestyle, genetics, age, a medical condition, etc. It may lead to weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes type 2 and other obesity-related diseases (1). To kick-start weight loss and improve your overall health, you MUST pay attention to your diet. In this article, we have listed 15 foods that can give your metabolism the much-needed boost. Read on to get healthy and feel great again. Swipe up!

1. Green Tea

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Green tea remains the unchallenged winner in the best natural weight loss drink category. The catechins in green tea – epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epicatechins (EC), and epigallocatechin (EGC) – are antioxidants (2). These help scavenge harmful oxygen radicals and prevent oxidative damage to the cells, DNA, and cellular functions.

When you prepare green tea the right way, the antioxidants help protect the cells, which function normally, suppress formation of fat cells and deposition of fat, and stimulate fat burning, thereby keeping your metabolism going (3).

Drink 3-4 cups of green tea per day to boost your metabolism, energy levels, and weight loss.

2. Protein-rich Foods

Protein-rich foods increase thermogenic effect in the body (4), (5). Proteins also take longer to digest, thereby increasing your satiety levels (6). So, consume protein-rich foods like lean meat (chicken breast, fish, scallops, etc.), legumes and beans, tofu, mushroom, and soy. They keep your hunger in control and prevent you from consuming too much food. And when you consume less amount of food, you will naturally stop storing fat, reduce inflammation and stress, and support your cells to carry out their functions.

Consume a source of protein with every meal to keep your metabolism firing. You can also take protein powders if you do not get to consume enough protein (0.8 g protein per kg body weight/day) from whole foods.

3. Chili

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Believe it or not, chilies are great for weight loss. Why? Scientists have found that they accelerate metabolic rate, increase thermogenesis (heat generation in the body which helps to burn the fat), and improve energy expenditure. The main weight loss phytonutrient, capsaicin, increases energy expenditure of the fat tissues and helps regulate insulin levels (7).

4. Fenugreek Seeds

If there’s one magic ingredient that can speed up your metabolism and help you lose fat, it is fenugreek. The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology published a study conducted on high-fat-fed obese rats. Fenugreek seed extract helped improve metabolism by decreasing adipose tissue in the body and increasing digestive enzymes, antioxidants, blood glucose levels, and insulin sensitivity (8).

You can add fenugreek seeds to curries or detox water and notice great results in just a few weeks’ time.

5. Broccoli

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Talking about healthy foods, and broccoli not on the list? That just cannot happen! And there’s a good reason for it. This lush green vegetable, no matter how much you hate it, has innumerable health benefits. It is loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and numerous phytonutrients that help fight various types of cancers and metabolic syndromes. Scientists have found that broccoli extract can help decrease blood sugar levels and improve abnormal metabolism (9).

Consume blanched broccoli in salads or vegetable quinoa or make broccoli soup for dinner or lunch. You can also have broccoli fritters instead of munching on a bag of chips.

[ Read: Top 30 Fat Burning Foods To Include In Your Diet ]

6. Water

Staying hydrated is the key to good health. You must consume a total of 3 liters of water (from fluids and foods) or eight 8-oz glasses per day (about 2 liters). Increase the quantity if you work out regularly. Drinking adequate water will help flush out toxins from your colon, improve gut health, and help lower inflammation levels. German scientists have found that drinking 500 mL water increased the metabolic rate by a whopping 30% and increased energy expenditure by 100 kJ (10).

Drink a glass or two of water every hour. But make sure you do not go overboard and drink too much water as it can lead to water intoxication.

7. Yerba Mate Tea

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Delicious yerba mate tea is another popular metabolism boosting and weight loss promoting agent. Scientists found that consuming yerba mate 120 minutes before workout improved satiety levels and increased the energy levels, mood, and metabolism (11).

Drink yerba mate tea twice a day to kick-start your metabolism and lose a few extra pounds.

8. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is just not a spice you use to enhance the taste of cakes and pancakes. This unassuming spice is a natural weight loss agent that works by increasing insulin sensitivity and enhancing body composition (12). Insulin is the hormone that aids glucose uptake and regulates lipid, carb, and protein metabolism.

The body becomes insulin resistant when the insulin levels are constantly high, preventing the cells from recognizing insulin-bound glucose molecules (13). Cinnamon consumption improves insulin sensitivity, thereby boosting your metabolism.

The best way to consume cinnamon is to buy Ceylon cinnamon and powder it as needed. Use this powder in your teas, salads, and soups.

9. Whole Eggs

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Many think that egg yolks are the reason their cholesterol levels are high. But here’s the truth. Your cholesterol levels increase when you consume too many trans fats, unhealthy fats, and refined sugar from various food sources like fried foods, takeaways, pizza, burger, wafers, soda, packaged fruit juices, etc.

Egg yolks are rich in water-soluble (B and C) and fat-soluble (A, E, D, K) vitamins, which are needed for proper growth and body function, including metabolism (14), (15). Eggs are also rich in proteins, which include essential amino acids that help improve stamina and exercise performance (16).

Consuming 1-2 whole eggs per day will do you more good than harm. So, the next time, think about the benefits you are losing before tossing the egg yolk away.

[ Read: 12 Best Diets That Work For Weight Loss ]

10. Garlic

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Garlic is the queen of herb spices, according to me. It not only enhances the taste of any dish but also has many health benefits. Allicin is an active biocompound found in garlic that helps fight many types of cancer, reduces blood pressure, and protects you from the common cold. Research shows that garlic helps inhibit the fat synthesis genes and increases thermogenesis (17). It also helps improve insulin sensitivity (18).

Add garlic to your salad dressing, soup, grilled chicken/fish, sautéed mushrooms, or lentils.

11. Coffee

Coffee is a great beverage to improve your metabolism. This dark, aromatic, and mood-boosting drink aids fat oxidation by increasing your body’s metabolic rate. In fact, scientists found that caffeinated coffee works better in obese individuals (19). Decaffeinated coffee is not as effective.

Drink two cups of black coffee per day. But avoid it if you cannot tolerate caffeine.

12. Goji Berries

Goji berries are loaded with nutrients that help balance your body’s pH, induce thermogenesis, flush out toxins, and increase fat oxidation. American scientists conducted an experiment on rodents to see the effect of goji berry juice supplementation and concluded that goji berry might help increase metabolic rate and reduce waist circumference (20).

Add these to your breakfasts, smoothies, or eat them as a snack. But do not go overboard and over consume them as that can lead to a spike in glucose levels.

13. Citrus Fruits

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Has anyone ever told you to drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a whole lime or half a lemon? Those who do it regularly know that this has an immense benefit for their overall health. Lime and lemons are a good source of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that boosts your immunity and regulates the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism (21).

The flavonoids present in citrus fruits like tangeretin, nobiletin, naringenin, and hesperidin help treat metabolic dysregulation, lower lipid and inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity (22).

Consume oranges, tangerine, kiwi, lemon, and pineapple in salads, salad dressings, marinades, detox water, juices or as they are.

14. Herbs

Most herbs that we use in foods, like cilantro, oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill, and fennel, are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help improve the metabolic rate by nullifying the harmful effects of free oxygen radicals. So, when it comes to adding a lot of dried or fresh herbs to your food, don’t be shy. They add the perfect aroma that will soothe you and help you become slim again.

15. Ginger

Ginger has also been found to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce hunger in men (23). Insulin is an important hormone that plays a crucial role in carb metabolism, glucose transport, glycogen synthesis, lipolysis, fatty acid oxidation, etc. (24). Scientists also found that ginger supplementation helped reduce fasting glucose levels in diabetes type 2 patients (25).

Add ginger to your salad dressing, curries, and stew. You can also have ½ an inch of raw ginger along with a glass of lime water in the morning to jazz up your morning health routine.

These are the 15 metabolism boosting foods you should include in your diet. But there are a few other things that you should do to lose weight. Here’s a checklist.

Other Things You Should You Do To Boost Metabolism

  1. Drink 500 mL of water first thing in the morning.
  2. Or drink a glass of fenugreek soaked water or lime juice water first thing in the morning.
  3. Workout regularly.
  4. Take less stress.
  5. Do not starve yourself. Eat every 2-3 hours.
  6. Eat healthy, even when you eat out.
  7. Learn to say NO to foods that will make you step back in your weight loss journey.
  8. Build your social support by interacting with people with similar fitness goals.
  9. Sleep for 7 hours.
  10. No late night snacking.

Well, it may seem tough to follow all these steps in the beginning. But be persistent. Adhere to healthy eating habits, include metabolism boosting foods in your diet, and lead a healthy lifestyle. And the rest is up to you how you imagine yourself to be in two weeks. Get going and stay focused. Cheers!

References

  1. HEALTH RISKS OF OBESITY” Annals of Ibadan postgraduate medicine, US National Library of Medicine
  2. Green Tea Catechins and Sport Performance” Ewa Jówko, Antioxidants in Sport Nutrition,
  3. Novel insights of dietary polyphenols and obesity.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, US National Library of Medicine
  4. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Changes in energy expenditure associated with ingestion of high protein, high fat versus high protein, low fat meals among underweight, normal weight, and overweight females” Nutrition Journal, BMC.
  6. Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  7. Chili pepper as a body weight-loss food.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  8. Fenugreek Seed Extract Inhibit Fat Accumulation and Ameliorates Dyslipidemia in High Fat Diet-Induced Obese Rats” BioMed Research International, US National Library of Medicine
  9. Protective effects of broccoli (Brassica oleracea) against oxidative damage in vitro and in vivo.” Journal of Nutritional Science And Vitaminology, US National Library of Medicine
  10. Water-induced thermogenesis.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine
  11. Yerba Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) Metabolic, Satiety, and Mood State Effects at Rest and during Prolonged Exercise” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine
  12. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and alters the body composition in an animal model of the metabolic syndrome.” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, US National Library of Medicine
  13. “Insulin and Insulin Resistance” The Clinical Biochemist Reviews, US National Library of Medicine
  14. Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity.” Medical hypotheses, US National Library of Medicine
  15. Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome.” Metabolism: clinical and experimental, US National Library of Medicine
  16. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  17. Reduction of body weight by dietary garlic is associated with an increase in uncoupling protein mRNA expression and activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in diet-induced obese mice.” The Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  18. Garlic improves insulin sensitivity and associated metabolic syndromes in fructose fed rats” Nutrition & metabolism, US National Library of Medicine
  19. Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  20. Lycium barbarum increases caloric expenditure and decreases waist circumference in healthy overweight men and women: pilot study.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  21. Lemon Polyphenols Suppress Diet-induced Obesity by Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in β-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition, US National Library of Medicine
  22. Citrus flavonoids and lipid metabolism.” Current opinion in lipidology, US National Library of Medicine
  23. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study” Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine
  24. Integration of biochemical and physiologic effects of insulin on glucose metabolism.” Exp. Clin. Endocrinol. Diabetes, US National Library of Medicine
  25. The Effects of Ginger on Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I and Malondialdehyde in Type 2 Diabetic Patients” Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, US National Library of Medicine

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