True or false: We all have metabolism that we’re born with. Some people can eat anything they want and still stay rail thin, and others can take a sip of water and gain weight.
The answer? Of course, our metabolic rate varies from individual to individual. I was a plump kid; I pretty much grew up with a medium-tall stature and medium-athletic sort of build from baby to adult. But even if you are not be blessed with metabolism of an Olympic swimmer, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a variance *within* an individual. Given your genetic metabolic predisposition, you could even calibrate it a little higher or a little lower.
A lot of that has to do with exercise. The more you keep moving, the more you will signal toward your body to keep burning fuel to sustain your activity level. Some of it also has to do with eating the right kind of foods. Maintaining a healthy, whole plant-based diet will send your metabolism humming. Could you use a little more of a boost? Here are some tried and tested metabolism boosting foods.
1. Grapefruit: This is one fruit that is scientifically proven to help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism (woohooo!!). According to a 2006 study, subjects who took grapefruit (in fresh, capsule, or juice form) lost significantly more weight than those who took placebo. For the best metabolism boosting effect, eat a whole fresh grapefruit (followed by juice and capsule–in case you have grapefruit capsules hanging out for some reason 😉 ).
2. Asparagus: The taste alone would make asparagus a super food, but it’s slimming, too. A favorite of figure competitors and fitness models, asparagus is a strong diuretic and de-bloater. It is full of fiber, B1, B2, B3, and B6 vitamins, helps regulate blood sugar levels and stabilizes your metabolism.
3. Berries: Strawberries and raspberries are naturally sweet, but they’re actually amazing for stabilizing your blood sugar levels. Their anthocyanins help reverse leptin and insulin resistance, which is one of the metabolic causes of fatigue and weight gain. And don’t forget about blueberries! According to a 2011 study, polyphenols in blueberries may inhibit fat cell growth, and induce the breakdown of lipids and fats.
4. Celery: We’ve all heard before the celery expends more calories (for digestion), than it contributes toward your body. It’s also full of water (one of the most important components of keeping your metabolism humming), and fiber, which keeps you full. Don’t like celery all that much? Good news is that you can get pretty much the same benefits from any number of fresh green vegetables. Try broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens (another diuretic), etc.
5. Coffee: Caffeine in coffee is a metabolism booster. Studies show that energized feeling you get after drinking java translates directly to your body, which works harder and faster, and consequently, burns more fuel. Some athletes in fact use this to their advantage. I remember reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit and noting that she just has black coffee before starting her morning workout session in the gym (that’s pre-rehearsal!). (Great book, people). If you can’t stand the jitteriness, however, read on…
6. Green Tea: According to studies, green tea has thermogenic effect of raising your metabolic rate and oxidizing fat at a higher rate–by 4-5%. Added to your diet on a daily basis, that can really add up! And it’s not just the caffeine, either–a recent study by Penn State College shows that decaffeinated green tea also leads to weight loss and especially abdominal fat loss, and lower glucose levels. Green tea also contains high levels of antioxidants to reduce inflammation and keep you feeling young, so drink up!
7. Avocado: Avocado is high in fat, so it feels like something that shouldn’t be on this list and yet…it is. Why? Its fat is monounsaturated fatty acid, which turns off the body’s signal to store fat. It is also an extremely nutrient-dense fruit (it’s a fruit, people!). It contains Omega 3 fatty acid, mood boosting vitamin B and folate, potassium, and vitamin E for healthy, glowing skin and hair.
Zoodles with Creamy Herbed Avocado Dressing
8. Chili pepper: Chili peppers of all kinds contain capsaicin, the compound responsible for spicy taste. According to studies, a spicy meal can provide a metabolic boost of up to 8% compared with a bland meal. Furthermore, spicy foods actually suppress your appetite, leading you to eat less overall. Try adding a bit of fresh jalapenos to your guacamole and salsa–or even sprinkle some red pepper flakes or cayenne to your green juice for a savory rather than sweet option!
9. Warming spices: That warming feeling you get from ginger doesn’t just affect your taste buds (or mood)–ginger is another thermogenic food that actually increases your metabolic rate. It also suppresses your appetite, leading you to eat less. Cinnamon on the other hand will fight insulin resistance, making your fat cells more sensitive to sugar and stabilizing blood glucose levels, and help regulate fat metabolism.
And last but not least–keep hydrating! From personal experience, I can guarantee that increasing your water intake can instantly increase your energy and really do help you reach and maintain your happy weight, whatever that is. Just do it 🙂
What foods make you feel at high metabolism, like a little engine that could? (for me, grapefruit!)
Related: 15 Best Healing Foods
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Photo: Beum Gallery via Flickr; Peaceful Dumpling; Kristen Lawrence; Kate Coffey