Chili peppers contain capsaicin - a spicy, metabolism-boosting compound. eleonora galli/Getty Images
Foods that boost your metabolism include chili peppers, coffee, tea, ginger, high-protein foods, and legumes.
Coffee and tea contain caffeine, which boosts metabolism by increasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline.
Since eating protein increases your metabolic rate, consuming high-protein foods like legumes or meats can help you burn more calories and feel more full.
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Losing weight isn't just about what you don't put in your body. In fact, the foods that you eat may help your body burn calories. If your doctor says that losing weight may benefit your health, then you may want to find ways to speed up your metabolism.
One way to boost your metabolism is by making changes to your diet and consuming foods that are proven to positively affect metabolism. Though eating these foods alone won't make or break your weight loss journey, they may be able to help you shed pounds.
Here are six foods and drinks that can help boost your metabolism.
The metabolism-boosting properties of chili peppers are due to a compound called capsaicin, says Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and director of the Center for Human Nutrition. This compound is also what's responsible for giving chili peppers their spicy flavor.
A 2017 review reported that capsaicin activates the TRPV1 receptor, which is involved in metabolism and body weight, by being involved in energy homeostasis and energy expenditure.
As an added bonus, chili peppers may also suppress appetite, which is useful in weight loss. A small 2014 study found that consuming a dose of capsaicin with every meal resulted in greater satiety, or feelings of fullness.
How to add it to your diet: Li suggests adding chili to your vegetable and meat dishes to reap the benefits. If you don't like spicy food, you can opt for capsaicin supplements.
Coffee and caffeine are associated with weight loss and may assist in weight loss maintenance by increasing metabolic rate and decreasing appetite. Li says caffeine increases dopamine and noradrenaline, two neurotransmitters that may increase metabolism
"A moderate consumption of coffee may have some beneficial effects on weight loss and calorie intake," says Roberta Anding, RD, registered dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine.
For example, a 2020 study found that drinking four cups of coffee a day was associated with a modest loss of fat mass.
How to add it to your diet: Li says drinking black coffee is the best way to get metabolic benefits.
If you don't like coffee, Li says that a great alternative is tea, since it still has the caffeine content, although less caffeine than coffee. A 2016 study found that people who maintain weight loss reported consuming significantly more caffeinated beverages. Additionally, a small 2012 study found that green tea specifically was able to boost resting metabolic rate in overweight and obese women.
Plus, different kinds of tea such as green tea contain compounds called catechins which are believed to boost metabolism, as well.
How to add it to your diet: Consume your tea without anything added to it for the best results.
Ginger has various properties involving weight management. Anding says ginger contains compounds called shogaols which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and weight loss properties. Li adds that ginger intake has been reported to improve metabolic profiles through increased insulin receptors, elevated pancreatic beta cells' functions, and modifying the adipokines concentrations. Additionally, ginger can help you lose weight by stimulating digestion, decreasing inflammation, and suppressing appetite.
A small 2012 study showed that drinking hot water with two grams of ginger powder dissolved in it was associated with lower hunger and greater feelings of fullness.
How to add it to your diet: Make ginger tea or add ginger to meat or vegetable dishes, says Li. Additionally, Anding says you can take ginger supplements.
Anding says dietary protein promotes satiety, or a sense of fullness. Additionally, she says it takes more energy to metabolize protein, so there is an increase in metabolic rate when you consume high-protein foods.
This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF), or diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). A 2014 study noted that DIT produced by protein results in a 15% to 30% increase in metabolic rate.
How to add it to your diet: Incorporate high-protein foods like meats into your meals throughout the day.
Legumes - which are a family of plants that includes chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils -are great for boosting metabolism since they are very high in protein. In addition to the metabolism boost caused by the protein, Anding says legumes can also help to promote fullness, since they are high in fiber.
A small 2009 study found that obese men who ate a high-protein diet or a legume diet were more likely to lose weight than people on a control diet.
How to add it to your diet: Li recommends consuming legumes as your protein and starch source in your meal. Don't consume legumes with more starch if you're looking to lose weight. She suggests a meal of legumes cooked with spices along with lean meat.
While these foods and drinks may help boost your metabolism, it's important that you make further changes if you want to lose weight effectively.
"Body fat loss is a complex process and most of the compounds or foods associated with an increase in metabolic rate and increased protein and water intake need to be part of an overall calorically restricted meal plan," says Anding.
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