If you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, metabolic rate is a factor that cannot be ignored. Some common lifestyles and unhealthy habits may slow down your metabolism, making it difficult to lose weight or even cause you to gain weight.
There are some foods that can quickly boost your metabolism, helping you to burn more calories and fat.
What Causes Slow Metabolism?
1. Long-term dieting
The purpose of dieting is to reduce weight by strictly limiting calorie intake.
Although it is said that if you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn, long-term or drastically reducing calorie intake may be counterproductive.
When your body doesn’t get enough calories, in order to survive it will activate a self-protection mode and reduce the burning rate of calories. As a result, metabolism slows down.
Therefore, if you want to lose weight by controlling your diet, don’t restrict your calorie intake for weeks or months.
In fact, appropriate intermittent fasting or carbohydrate cycling methods can not only ensure your body gets enough calories but also speeds up your metabolism, thereby getting a better weight loss result.
2. Not eating enough protein
Sufficient protein intake is important for overall health and weight loss.
In addition to making you feel fuller and reducing hunger, protein can also increase the rate at which your body burns calories.
Food increases metabolism after being digested. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF of protein is much higher than that of carbohydrates or fats.
Studies have shown that eating protein increases metabolism by about 20-30%, while carbohydrates only increase metabolism by 5-10%. Fats only increase metabolism by 3% or less, so getting enough protein is important for keeping up your metabolic rate.
3. Drinking too many sugary beverages
Sugary drinks contain a lot of added sugar or fructose. In addition to causing health problems such as obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, sugary beverages can also reduce your metabolism.
In a 12-week controlled study, overweight and obese people used 25% of the calories in their daily diet, for fructose-containing beverages. As a result, their metabolic rate decreased significantly.
In addition, eating too much fructose can also increase fat in the abdomen and liver. [*]
4. Sedentary lifestyle
Many office workers and students often sit in front of their computers for several hours, which has a negative impact on fat burning, metabolism and overall health.
Even basic physical activities such as standing, walking, cleaning or going up and down stairs can help you burn calories. This type of activity is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
It only takes a few steps a day to increase your NEAT and prevent your metabolism from falling. If you can properly work in some strength training, it will greatly improve your resting metabolic rate and overall metabolic rate.
5. Insufficient sleep
We spend one-third of our lives in bed. One can imagine how important sleep is to health. Getting enough sleep is also important to everyday life.
However, a lack of sleep causes many problems in everyday life. Not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of multiple diseases including heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity.
Insufficient sleep may also reduce your metabolic rate, causing you to gain weight.
A study found that healthy adults who sleep only 4 hours a night, for 5 consecutive nights, have an average resting metabolic rate decrease of 2.6%. After 12 hours of continuous sleep, their metabolic rate returned to normal.
At the same time, poor sleep can also cause a hormonal imbalance in your body, resulting in weight gain. For related information, please refer to How Does A Lack Of Sleep Cause Weight Gain.
10 Foods That Boost Metabolism And Burn Fat
Many common foods can increase your metabolic rate, burn fat and help you to lose weight.
1. Protein-rich foods
Meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts and seeds, are high in protein and can help boost metabolism.
The body burns more calories in the process of breaking down and digesting protein. (Remember the TEF？)
Eating enough protein can help you maintain muscle mass and prolong satiety, which can prevent overeating.
2. Foods rich in iron, zinc and selenium
Iron, zinc and selenium play an important role in maintaining the normal function of the body. Although their respective roles are different, they have one thing in common:
- They are all necessary trace elements to ensure thyroid function.
Normal thyroid function can regulate metabolism.
A study has shown that low levels of iron, zinc or selenium in a diet can reduce the ability of the thyroid to produce sufficient hormones, thereby slowing down metabolism.
Foods rich in iron, zinc and selenium include meat, seafood, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables contain three essential nutrients: B vitamins, vitamin C and calcium, which can promote metabolism.
In addition, they also contain a lot of water and fiber, which can increase the body’s ability to burn fat.
In addition to being rich in protein, legumes are also rich in fiber, which can reduce postprandial insulin levels. Regular consumption can also increase insulin insensitivity and reduce fat storage in the body.
B vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc in legumes, can improve metabolism and promote the formation of testosterone, which helps burn calories and increase energy.
Foods like blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and strawberries have been proven to effectively increase the metabolic rate.
Berries are rich in dietary fibers that are not digested by the body. They do however help break down other foods and burn fat.
Berries also contain antioxidants that can regulate blood sugar and promote heart health.
Garlic is rich in nutrients and has both edible and medicinal value.
Garlic helps to control blood sugar and boost metabolism. In addition, studies have shown that eating garlic can increase calorie burning throughout the day while reducing fat storage.
7. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has antiviral and antibacterial effects. It can also maintain beneficial bacteria in the intestines and the balance of flora, which is very important for the health of the digestive system.
Coconut oil has a high content of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike long-chain fat, once MCT is absorbed, it will go directly to the liver and be converted into energy, instead of being stored as fat.
Some studies have shown that MCT can increase the metabolic rate more than long-chain fats. A daily intake of 30 ml of coconut oil can help reduce waist circumference. [*]
8. Chili pepper
Chili contains a chemical substance called capsaicin, which can promote metabolism by burning calories and fat.
A study has shown that capsaicin can help your body burn approximately 50 extra calories a day. Even a small amount of chili can increase metabolism by 25% within three hours after eating. It, and can also suppress hunger.
Seaweed is rich in iodine, which can promote thyroid health. Thyroid hormones have many functions, one of which is to regulate the metabolic rate. [*]
Therefore, eating kelp and seaweed can provide you with enough iodine, thus helping you maintain a higher level of metabolism.
However, it should be noted that eating too many iodine-rich foods may cause side effects, such as hyperthyroidism.
If you frequently use iodized salt at home, you do not need to supplement iodine.
10. Green tea and coffee
The caffeine and catechins in green tea help promote metabolism, which can increase the metabolic rate by 4-10%. This increase can help you burn an additional 100 calories a day.
The caffeine contained in coffee can also help increase your metabolic rate by 11%. Six different studies have found that people who consume at least 270 mg of caffeine per day (about three cups of coffee) burn an additional 100 calories per day.
It is best to drink coffee without adding sugar and milk. Black coffee is low in carbs and can help you burn fat fast.
However, due to individual differences (such as weight and age), the fat-burning effects of coffee and green tea may also vary from person to person. In addition, do not add too much caffeine to your diet.
Some lifestyles or habits that you take for granted can slow down your metabolism or even may cause weight gain. Therefore, it is best to avoid or change them.
Many foods, including vegetables, protein and chili can boost your metabolism fast, to help you lose or maintain a healthy weight.
In addition, drinking plenty of water, reducing mental stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet are also important for improving metabolism.