In our look at how to boost metabolism, we examined the link between daily behavioral patterns and metabolism. This shows how the application of straightforward biochemical processes can be harnessed as a metabolism booster to help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals. But, as we’ve shown before, simply attempting to achieve weight loss by physical activity isn’t enough. It’s also imperative to the proper fuel metabolism boosters, to achieve those goals. Adding natural, healthy metabolism boosters to your diet can play a significant part in achieving those goals.
8 Natural Metabolism Boosters For Weight Loss
1. Coffee – Coffee antioxidants, in addition to its stimulant properties, make it one of nature’s best metabolism boosters. Studies have repeatedly shown enhancements in athletic performance for elite runners who consume coffee, but there exists some debate about the exact mechanism of action. Certainly caffeine is considered to play a role, but contrary to the alertness theory, the more favored explanation for why coffee boosts metabolism so effectively is its ability to increase free fatty acid circulation in the bloodstream. The increased availability of free fatty acids for metabolism avoids the fatigue that occurs during exercise when glycogen stores are exhausted. Expect a boost in metabolism from coffee consumption lasts approximately 4 hours for healthy adults.
2. Lean Protein — Lean protein is more difficult for the body to digest, and provides the essential building blocks to increase muscle mass, which is one of the greatest metabolism boosters you’re going to find. The purpose behind strength training is to tear muscle fibers, which will then be built up larger than before. To fuel this process, aim to consume 10-35% of your daily calories from lean protein sources, such as tilapia, salmon, chicken, and lean cuts of red meat.
3. Green Tea — Long lauded as a rich source of powerful antioxidants, green tea has also been shown to boost metabolism in men. In one Swiss study, men who drank green tea with meals experienced a boost in metabolism that lasted for 24 hours. Subsequent research has shown that consuming of 3-6 cups of green each day has the cumulative effect of burning an additional 60-80 calories per day. On average this is the equivalent of 6 minutes per day spent jogging.
4. Dairy — Science has repeatedly shown that getting enough calcium in your diet reduces your risk of obesity, which on the surface at least, makes sense. Calcium plays a huge role in generalized health, brain function, and metabolism. However, when it comes to calcium, not all sources are created equal. Leafy greens and American persimmon are high in calcium, but the effect of calcium oxalate in your diet is different than dairy sources. For instance, in one research study, participants who consumed at least 580-mg of dairy calcium daily (12 ounces of milk) lost 12 pounds over a 2-year period.
5. Grapefruit – A study by the Scripps Institute on grapefruit verified its place as one of the top metabolism boosteing foods. In this study, participants who at a half a grapefruit at each meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds over a 12-week period. Drinking a serving of grapefruit juice with each meal conferred a weight loss of 3.3-pounds. Scientists attribute the majority of the effect to the flavanoid compound naringin, which is believed to suppress insulin response.
7. Spinach (and other leafy greens) – A study conducted at the Swedish Karolinska Institute showed the impact of nitrates on metabolism. Subjects given a nitrate supplement experienced an overall increase in metabolic activity, as measured by mitochondrial efficiency. Their work has shown that dietary nitrates, which are present in high levels in most leafy greens, are metabolized into nitric oxide by oral bacteria. Nitric oxide has the effect of lowering blood pressure, reducing the amount of oxygen required for muscle function, and possibly mediating insulin response.
8. Peppers and other “hot” foods – Capsaicin, the ingredient responsible for “hotness” in peppers and other spicy foods, have been shown to increase metabolism by about 8% for several hours after consumption. Additionally, they contribute to feelings of fullness, and have been shown to reduce blood lipid levels in some studies. Other dishes from the Far East, most notably those containing curry, have been reported to impart similar effects. This has lead to the use of spices such as capsaicin, turmeric, and coriander in many herbal metabolism boosters.
Understanding how to harness your metabolism for weight loss is one step in the process of changing your life. Replacing empty calories with nutrient dense metabolism boosters is key to provide the fuel for weight loss, and the satiety to stave off food cravings throughout the day.
Published July 2011. Updated November 2011.