What is the best thing for me to eat to boost my metabolism?

I get this question all the time. Let’s start out by discussing what exactly “metabolism” (or otherwise called “metabolic rate”) means. Metabolism is the amount of calories that you expend each day to keep your body functioning (heart beating, lungs breathing, etc.). We want our metabolism to be as revved up as possible to burn calories and help prevent us from gaining weight. Many things can influence how high your metabolism is including genetics, gender, age, and muscle mass. Men tend to have higher metabolisms then women. People with more muscle not only burn more total calories but they burn these calories more efficiently. And, unfortunately, the aging process can slow metabolism and we tend to lose approximately 2-8% muscle mass per decade!

Our metabolism is also impacted by the food we eat. For example, some people believe that foods like green tea and hot chilies will increase metabolism and help us lose weight. However, research shows that, while these foods may boost metabolism temporarily, the lift is not enough to make a difference in total calories burned or lead to sustainable weight loss. Other people believe that skipping meals or drastically reducing calorie intake will help jump start their weight loss. One may initially lose some weight from the calorie deficit, but our bodies are very smart and will begin to do more with fewer calories. “Your body adapts to the restricted calorie intake, and it will begin using fewer calories to perform the same tasks” Wendy Marcason, RD, LDN. Also, our bodies will begin to think that they are starving and then work to protect fat stores by shedding lean body mass. And, as previously mentioned, we want as much lean body mass as possible to keep our metabolism kicking.

To keep your metabolism moving, I suggest eating smaller amounts and often throughout the day. Choose foods that are great for your metabolism like complex carbohydrates (whole wheat bread, whole grains, high fiber cereal), fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna). Some foods are not good for your overall health and may negatively impact metabolism. Examples include highly processed foods (white bread, potato chips, candy, ice cream), processed meats (bacon, sausage, bologna), and fried foods (doughnuts, French fries, etc..

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