It seems like there is an excess of powders and drinks on the market today claiming to burn fat and boost your metabolism. The true potency of any of these magical products leaves us a little skeptical. When it comes to making a lasting impact on your metabolic rate through your diet, nothing leaves as permanent of a mark as eating fresh.
This likely comes as no surprise, but many of the best metabolism-boosting foods come from simple produce. Brightly colored fruits and vibrant greens are an easy way to spot the most nutrient-rich items at the grocery store. They're filled with key vitamins and nutrients that boost your metabolism and give your body the sustenance it needs. At the end of the day, eating good, real food is the truest and simplest way to maintain a healthy weight, so we're rounding up 15 of the best metabolism-boosting foods. Add these foods to your grocery cart.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain three essential nutrients that power your metabolism: B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin C. They also have high water and fiber content, a combination that increases your body’s ability to burn fat.
Beans (think red and black, not refried) are one of the best metabolism-boosting foods. They're loaded with fiber, which lowers insulin levels after eating and improves insulin sensitivity over time. The result? Your body stores less fat. The B vitamins and zinc in beans boost testosterone, which helps increase energy and build calorie-burning muscle.
Your body works harder when digesting protein than when it’s digesting fat or carbohydrates. Eating good lean meats like white meat chicken and turkey helps speed up your metabolism simply because they require so much energy to fully digest. Plus, all that protein helps preserve your muscle mass to keep your metabolism at its peak.
Are you getting enough iron? Over 20% of women are not, and your body needs iron to carry out its calorie-burning processes effectively. Iron facilitates the flow of oxygen throughout the body, which helps increase energy and your metabolism. Just one cup of lentils provides 35% of your daily iron needs, plus protein and fiber, which aid in digestion.
Oats not only keep your insulin levels low after you eat them, preventing blood sugar spikes that signal your body to store fat, but they also have plenty of fiber. As your body breaks down that fiber, it burns calories.
Spicy foods have natural chemicals in them that fire up your metabolism. Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot, is also precisely what helps your body burn more energy. Can’t handle red peppers? Even just a pinch of cayenne has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 25% for three hours after you eat while also curbing hunger.
Several spices (like cayenne pepper, as you just learned) are known to rev up metabolism, but cinnamon also curbs your sweet tooth, helps balance your blood sugar, and improves insulin sensitivity. Add it to your dessert to help thwart post-meal blood sugar spikes.
Garlic supports a balanced blood sugar and a healthy metabolism. Studies have also shown that eating garlic can increase the number of calories burned throughout the day while decreasing the body’s production of fat.
Citrus fruits, especially lemons and grapefruits, are great for digestion. They’re low in sugar and contain an antioxidant that can help lower your blood sugar response after meals—and the vitamin C helps your body metabolize fat faster.
Oily fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce resistance to leptin, a hormone that plays an important role in determining how fast fat is burned. They also balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, both of which help to regulate metabolism.
The short-chain fatty acids in whole grains trigger the release of leptin, the satiety hormone, helping you eat less. The high levels of fiber also slow down the blood sugar release and even out insulin spikes, which means extra energy is used for digestion.
The high-protein content of nuts makes your body burn more fat in order to digest them. They’re also a low-glycemic food, which means eating them keeps your blood sugar stable.
Hemp seeds and flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to your muscles to kick your metabolism into high gear, making them one of the best metabolism-boosting foods.
Both anti-viral and antibacterial, coconut oil works to keep a healthy balance of good bacteria in your gut, which is necessary for efficient digestion. And its high fat content (good fats) works to give your metabolism a boost. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fats, a type of fat that speeds up your metabolism more than the long-chain fats found in substances like butter.
Make sure to add these metabolism-boosting foods to your shopping list to keep you looking and feeling your best.
This post was originally published on Byrdie on March 19, 2015, and has since been updated.