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The 12 Best Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

Certain foods can increase your metabolism.

The higher your metabolism, the more calories
you burn and the easier it is to maintain your weight or get
rid of unwanted body fat.

Here are 12 foods that rev up your metabolism, which may help
you lose weight.

Young Woman Drinking Tea

1. Protein-Rich Foods


Protein-rich foods
, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy,
legumes, nuts and seeds, could help increase your metabolism
for a few hours.

They do so by requiring your body to use more energy to digest
them.

This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF refers to
the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb
and process the nutrients in your meals.

Research shows that protein-rich foods increase TEF the most.
For example, they increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%,
compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats (1).

Protein-rich diets also reduce the drop in metabolism often
seen during weight loss by helping your body hold on to its
muscle mass (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

What’s more, protein
may also help keep you fuller for longer, which can prevent
overeating (8, 9, 10, 11).

Bottom Line: Protein-rich foods can help
boost your metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent you
from overeating.

2. Iron, Zinc and Selenium-Rich Foods

Tuna Fish in a Can

Iron, zinc and selenium each play different but equally
important roles in the proper function of your body.

However, they do have one thing in common: all three are
required for the proper function of your thyroid gland, which
regulates your metabolism (12).

Research shows that a diet too low in iron, zinc or selenium
may reduce the ability of your thyroid gland to produce
sufficient amounts of hormones. This can
slow down
your metabolism (13, 14, 15).

To help your thyroid function to the best of its ability,
include zinc, selenium and iron-rich
foods
like meat, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds in your
daily menu.

Bottom Line: Foods rich in iron, zinc and
selenium promote the proper function of your thyroid, which
helps maintain a healthy metabolism.

3. Chili Peppers

Capsaicin, a chemical found in chili
peppers
, may boost your metabolism by increasing the number
of calories and fat you burn.

In fact, a review of 20 research studies reports that capsaicin
can help your body burn around 50 extra calories per day
(16).

This effect was initially observed after taking 135–150 mg of
capsaicin per day, but some studies report similar benefits
with doses as low as 9–10 mg per day (17, 18, 19, 20).

Moreover, capsaicin may have appetite-reducing properties.

According to a recent study, consuming 2 mg of capsaicin
directly before each meal seems to reduce the number of
calories consumed, especially from carbs
(21).

That said, not all studies agree on capsaicin’s
metabolism-boosting abilities (22, 23).

Bottom Line: Capsaicin, a compound found in
chili peppers, may help slightly increase metabolism and fat
oxidation.

4. Coffee

Coffee in a Red Cup

Studies report that the caffeine found in
coffee
can help
increase metabolic rate
by up to 11% (24, 25).

In fact, six different studies found that people who consume at
least 270 mg of caffeine daily, or the equivalent of about
three cups of coffee, burn an extra 100 calories per day
(26).

Furthermore, caffeine may also help your body burn fat for
energy and seems especially effective at boosting
your workout performance
(27, 28, 29, 30).

However, its effects seem to vary from person to person, based
on individual characteristics such as body weight and age
(31, 32).

Bottom Line: The caffeine found in coffee
may help boost the amount of calories and fat your body
burns. However, its effects may vary by individual.

5. Tea

According to research, the combination of caffeine and catechins that’s found in tea may work to boost
your metabolism.

In particular, both oolong
and
green tea
may increase metabolism by 4–10%. This could add
up to burning an extra 100 calories per day (26, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38).

In addition, oolong and green teas may help your body use
stored fat for energy more effectively, increasing your
fat-burning ability by up to 17% (35, 36, 37, 38, 39).

Nevertheless, as is the case with coffee, effects may vary from
person to person.

Bottom Line: The combination of caffeine and
catechins found in tea may help your body burn slightly more
calories and fat each day.

6. Legumes and Pulses

Variation of Legumes

Legumes
and pulses, such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and
peanuts, are particularly high in protein compared to other
plant foods.

Studies suggest that their high protein content requires your
body to burn a greater number of calories to digest them,
compared to lower-protein foods (40, 41).

Legumes also contain a good amount of dietary fiber,
such as resistant
starch
and soluble fiber, which your body can use to feed
the good bacteria living in your intestines (42, 43, 44).

In turn, these friendly bacteria produce short-chain
fatty acids
, which may help your body use stored fat as
energy and maintain normal blood sugar levels (45, 46, 47).

In one study, humans consuming a legume-rich diet for eight
weeks experienced beneficial changes in metabolism and lost 1.5
times more weight than the control group (48).

Legumes are also high in arginine, an amino acid that may
increase the amount of carbs and fat your body can burn for
energy (49).

In addition, peas, faba beans and lentils also contain
substantial amounts of the amino acid glutamine, which may help
increase the number of calories burned during digestion
(50, 51).

Bottom Line: Legumes and pulses are high in
protein, fiber and certain amino acids, which are thought to
have metabolism-boosting properties.

7. Metabolism-Boosting Spices

Certain spices are thought to have particularly beneficial
metabolism-boosting properties.

For instance, research shows that dissolving 2 grams of

ginger
powder in hot water and drinking it with a meal may
help you burn up to 43 more calories than drinking hot water
alone (52).

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This hot ginger drink also seems to decrease levels of hunger
and enhance feelings of satiety (53).

Grains of paradise, another spice in the
ginger family, may have similar effects.

A recent study reported that participants given a 40-mg extract
of grains of paradise burned 43 more calories in the following
two hours than those given a placebo (54).

That said, researchers also noted that part of the participants
were non-responders, so the effects may vary from one person to
another.

Similarly, adding cayenne pepper to your meal may increase the
amount of fat your body burns for energy, especially following
a high-fat meal (55, 56).

However, this fat-burning effect may only apply to people
unaccustomed to consuming spicy foods (56).

Bottom Line: Ginger, grains of paradise and
cayenne pepper may help your body burn more calories or fat.
However, effects can vary from one individual to another.

8. Cacao

Cacao Beans and Cocoa Powder

Cacao and cocoa are tasty treats that may also benefit your
metabolism.

For instance, studies in mice found that cocoa and cocoa
extracts may promote the expression of genes that stimulate the
use of fat for energy. This seems especially true in mice fed
high-fat or high-calorie diets (57, 58, 59).

Interestingly, one study suggests that cocoa may prevent the
action of enzymes necessary to break down fat and carbs during
digestion (60).

In doing so, cocoa could theoretically play a role in
preventing weight gain by reducing the absorption of some
calories (60).

However, human studies examining the effects of cocoa, cacao or
cacao products such as dark chocolate are rare. More studies
are needed before strong conclusions can be made (61).

If you’d like to give cacao a try, opt for raw versions, as
processing tends to reduce the amounts of beneficial compounds
(62).

Bottom Line: Cacao may have certain
metabolism-boosting properties, especially for those
consuming high-calorie, high-fat diets.

9. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar and Apples


Apple cider vinegar
may increase your metabolism.

Several animal studies have shown vinegar to be particularly
helpful in increasing the amount of fat burned for energy.

In one study, mice given vinegar experienced an increase in the
AMPK enzyme, which prompts the body to
decrease fat storage and increase fat burning (63).

In another study, obese rats treated with vinegar experienced
an increase in the expression of certain genes, leading to
reduced liver fat and belly
fat
storage (64, 65).

Apple cider vinegar is often claimed to boost metabolism in
humans, but few studies have investigated the matter directly.

Nevertheless, apple cider vinegar may still
help you lose weight
in other ways, such as slowing stomach
emptying and enhancing feelings of fullness (66, 67, 68, 69).

One study in humans even showed that participants given four
teaspoons (20 ml) of apple cider vinegar ate up to 275 fewer
calories over the rest of the day (70).

If you’d like to give apple cider vinegar a try, be careful to
limit your daily consumption to two tablespoons (30 ml).

Also, make sure to
read this article
to reduce the risk of negative side
effects.

Bottom Line: More studies are needed to
confirm apple cider vinegar’s metabolism-boosting properties
in humans. That being said, it may aid weight loss in other
ways.

10. Coconut Oil


Coconut oil
is experiencing a surge in popularity.

That may be partly because coconut oil is high in medium-chain
triglycerides
(MCTs). This is contrary to most other types
of fats, which usually contain higher amounts of long-chain
fatty acids.

Unlike long-chain fats, once MCTs are absorbed, they go
directly to the liver to be turned into energy. This makes them
less likely to be stored as fat.

Interestingly, several studies show that MCTs can increase
metabolic rate more than longer-chain fats (71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76).

In addition, researchers report that a daily intake of 30 ml of
coconut oil may successfully reduce waist size in obese
individuals (77, 78).

Bottom Line: Replacing other fats with a
small amount of coconut oil may boost your metabolism and
help your body get rid of belly fat.

11. Water

Small Glass of Water

Drinking enough
water
is a great way to stay hydrated.

Additionally, it seems that drinking water may also temporarily
boost metabolism by 24–30% (79, 80, 81, 82).

Researchers note that about 40% of that increase is explained
by the additional calories needed to heat the water to body
temperature (82).

Yet, the effects only seem to last for 60–90 minutes after
drinking it and may vary from one person to another (83).

Bottom Line: Drinking water may temporarily
increase your metabolism. However, effects are temporary and
may vary between individuals.

12. Seaweed

Dried Seaweed Sheets

Seaweed is a great source of iodine, a mineral required for the
production of thyroid hormones and proper function of your
thyroid gland (84).

Thyroid hormones have various functions, one of which is to
regulate your metabolic rate (12).

Regularly consuming seaweed can help you meet your iodine needs
and keep your metabolism running at a high rate.

The reference daily intake of iodine for adults is 150 mcg per
day. This can be met by consuming several servings of seaweed
per week.

Although, some types of seaweed such as kelp are extremely high
in iodine and should not be consumed in large amounts.

Fucoxanthin is another compound found in some
varieties of seaweed that may help with metabolism.

It’s primarily found in brown seaweed varieties and may have
anti-obesity effects by increasing the amount of calories you
burn (85).

Bottom Line: Certain compounds in seaweed
may help prevent your metabolism from slowing down.

13. Anything Else?

Certain foods may help slightly increase your metabolism.
Therefore, consuming them regularly may help you lose weight
and keep it off in the long term.

However, foods are not the only way to boost your metabolism.
Check out this
article here
for additional ways to help your body burn
more calories each day.

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