10 Nutritious Foods That Will Seriously Boost Your Metabolism

The days of eating everything in sight without fear of gaining an ounce eventually come to an end. Once your metabolism slows, you find yourself counting every morsel of food and trying to burn more calories at the gym. Instead of resigning yourself to eating an ever-shrinking entrée, try going for foods that work in your favor. Opt for these 10 eats to rocket your metabolism back to full speed.

1. Chicken breast

Grilled Chicken Breast and salad

Go for delicious grilled chicken. | iStock.com

One of the most appealing ways to speed up your metabolism is by adding muscle mass, but few understand exactly why. Men’s Fitness explains muscle is made from a highly active type of tissue that requires much more energy to sustain than fat. Though hitting the weight room is part of the muscle-building equation, so is eating plenty of protein. Chicken breast is great for this because it’s also low in fat and, according to Muscle & Fitness, contains key nutrients to help you recover faster between gym sessions.

2. Coffee

man cupping a mug of coffee

Drink your morning cup of coffee. | iStock.com

This morning brew helps most of us wake up, and it might even do the same for your metabolism. One 2004 study reported consuming caffeine can increase your body’s ability to burn fat, but also noted the effect is rather small. Coffee may help you shed pounds in a more round-about way as well. Recent research published in Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging found subjects who combined coffee consumption with periods of low-intensity exercise burned more fat following the activity than the control group.

3. Brown rice

cooked brown rice in a blue bowl

Cooked brown rice will give your metabolism a boost. | iStock.com

Swapping regular white rice for its whole-grain counterpart is one of the easiest ways you can rev your body’s metabolism. Eat This, Not That! explains your body has to work harder to break down whole grains during the digestion process, which keeps your metabolism elevated. Go for other whole grains, such as oatmeal and barley, to keep the effect going without sacrificing variety.

4. Spinach

fresh spinach leaves in a bowl

Add spinach to your meals. | iStock.com

Like whole grains, spinach is loaded with good-for-you fiber. This green boasts some other key nutrients that can help increase your calorie burn as well, especially iron. This mineral fuels oxygen transport via blood cells, so it’s crucial for fueling metabolism. One small study from 2014 illustrated the point by treating iron-deficient women with a supplement. At the end of the period, subjects lost weight and had lower BMIs, which the researchers attributed this partially to iron’s effect on metabolism.

5. Greek yogurt

blue ramekin filled with Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt should be a staple in your diet. | iStock.com

Another winner in the protein department, Greek yogurt is a phenomenal food for torching calories. Some of this has to do with the whey found in milk products. One 2011 study found men who consumed whey protein burned more calories in the digestion process compared to two other types of protein. The probiotics boost the calorie-blasting effect even more. According to Eating Well, these active cultures may help to increase metabolism by supporting the good bacteria in our guts.

6. Spicy chilies

bowl filled with spicy Thai chilies

Thai chilies are great for weight loss. | iStock.com

Those who like heat might want to add another chili or two to their meals. The compound behind the spicy sensation is called capsaicin, and it can boost your burn. According to a 2012 review, consuming foods rich in capsaicin can both increase your metabolism and reduce your appetite. Don’t think you can just down a few chilies and then eat whatever you want, though, because the researchers emphasized the effects are relatively small.

7. Fish

grilled tuna steak with vegetables

Eat fish for a protein boost. | iStock.com

Fish are among the best sources of lean protein out there, yet many of us are still falling short of the recommendation to eat two servings every week. If it’s a more robust metabolism you’re after, you might want to start adding more seafood to your menu. SFGate explains fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon and mackerel, boost your body’s levels of fat-burning enzymes while simultaneously decreasing the ones that store fat.

8. Bell peppers

strips of red bell pepper being sliced

Snack on some bell peppers. | iStock.com

Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to supporting a healthy metabolism. In fact, research published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported folks with adequate levels of the nutrient oxidize as much as 30% more fat during moderate exercise than those who don’t consume enough. While most people think citrus when it comes to vitamin C, bell peppers are the real winners. Just one cup of chopped red peppers contains more than three times your daily recommended serving.

9. Olive oil

flask filled with olive oil

You can’t go wrong with olive oil. | iStock.com

The original healthy fat is still one of the smartest choices to benefit your heart, and it can do wonders for your metabolism as well. Though many simply think of oils as being healthy if they’re unsaturated, the specific type of fat also matters. One 2008 study compared the effects of eating a breakfast rich in three different types of oil, finding those who consumed olive oil burned more calories later in the day.

10. Garlic

close-up of an unpeeled garlic clove

Garlic will rev your metabolism. | iStock.com

This pungent ingredient is one of our favorites for adding a huge dose of flavor to your food without tacking on a lot of calories. It might also be an effective way to burn fat. While most research concerning the allium has involved animals, there are some human examples. One study published in Nutrition Research and Practice found women given a garlic extract experienced both fat and weight loss, particularly when combined with exercise. Sounds like a good excuse to add a few cloves to your next stir-fry.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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