Boost Your Metabolism With Food

“Geez! How can she eat so much fast food and still be so slim? She must have a pretty fast metabolism, huh?”

Does this sound vaguely familiar? I hear lines like these all the time – the infamous metabolism. Metabolism is the process of breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins to yield the energy your body needs to maintain itself. Most people are looking to increase their metabolic performance for weight loss but the practices of keeping your metabolism on the higher end of the performance chart happens to place your general health up on that end too!

“You’re young so you have a faster metabolism than me. No wonder you can eat all that stuff.”

Many factors determine the speed of your metabolism. Factors like sex, age and genetics are unchangeable but they only have a small role to play. If you have a slow metabolism, by adding and/or adjusting your lifestyle, you can have your metabolism revving and rearing to go no matter your age or sex!

Here are some foods which can help increase your metabolism:

Calcium, Complex Carbohydrates & Fibre

I mentioned before that calcium is the best way to lower acidity of the body. It helps keep the body’s pH close to it’s normal range of 7.35-7.45. The more acidic your body is, the slower your metabolism is going to be since more of your cells will not be working as they should, using less calories than they would if they were functioning at the optimum pH.

Foods high in fibre like whole grains and cereals and foods loaded with complex carbohydrates like apples, grapefruits, spinach, broccoli, beans, and other lovely leafy vegetables increase metabolism simply because it takes a lot of energy to digest them. More energy used = faster metabolism.

Calcium, complex carbohydrates and fibre are all substances that help keep the levels of insulin low after a meal. A spike in insulin level is a signal to the body that there are loads of carbohydrates floating around so it’s time to store it all away as fat. When your body starts to stock up on fats, the metabolism slows down so that you use fewer calories. Using fat for energy is, after all, a secondary mechanism…not primary. Of course, eating your low glycemic index foods help keep your insulin levels low too!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fishy foods like salmon and tuna are filled with the goodness of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids help by increasing the levels of a hormone called leptin which pretty much determines whether energy will be stored as fat or used up by the body. The higher your leptin levels, the faster your metabolism.

If you’re not big on eating fish, a good omega-3 supplement will do as well.

Protein from meat

Meaty foods like beef, pork, chicken and turkey help increase metabolism because the body requires a large amount of energy to digest proteins in comparison to fats and carbohydrates. The fact that we can feel fuller longer after eating a meal with protein, shows that the body not only takes longer but will use more energy to digest it.

Capsaicin in Peppers

Peppers like jalapeno, habanero and cayenne contain a chemical called capsaicin which helps to generate heat within the body and increases the heart rate, both of which boosts the metabolism as they cause more energy to be used by the body.

Caffeine & EGCG

Caffeine increases your heart rate but at the same time robs your heart’s stores of potassium and magnesium. You’re heart muscles won’t work well without these so I’d try to stay away from caffeine.

EGCG is a substance found in green tea which enhances the functioning of the brain and central nervous system, utilising more energy while helping you become more alert.

Other things you can add to your dieting lifestyle that may also help increase metabolism

  • Taking digestive enzymes with food. The more energy we can acquire from our food, the faster our metabolism will be (assuming we use the energy we acquire sufficiently).
  • Drink 3 glasses of chilled water a day: in the morning, and between meals (at least 1 hour after meals so that you don’t interrupt digestion). It robs the body of its heat and triggers your body’s homeostatic function to keep the body temperature warm. More energy is used for heat, increasing metabolism. All other glasses of water should be room-temperature. You don’t want to overwork your hypothalamus.
  • Eat smaller meals and more often throughout the day. Smaller meals means less excess energy to be stored as fat. Three full meals are a must with healthy snacks in between each meal. This works well in maintaining body weight so long as your meals are healthy and balanced and your snacks aren’t junk food but healthy snacks like fruits.

Other lifestyle enhancements for increasing metabolic performance

  • Natural metabolic enhancement supplements (I’ll post about these later on…)
  • Exercise (I’ll post about this later on…)

“Food is the best nutraceutical. The best doctor is in your kitchen. You just need to eat the right foods.”

~ Laurens Maas

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