We all want to lose weight quickly, maybe by this weekend or by that wedding in two weeks? Being patient with losing weight can be hard, right? It can seem like you are in a fight with your “slow” metabolism, it is the only thing holding you back between you and the body of your dreams. But, let’s take a step back and learn a little bit about what your metabolism is and what foods can help give it a little boost.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is simply a collection of chemical processes that help you stay alive, grow, repair any damaged tissues, keep your heart beating and your brain working. All of these processes require calories, but the number of calories required can vary from person to person. A few variables that can give you a “fast” or “slow” metabolism including age, sex, and body size. Men have faster metabolisms due to greater muscle mass, whereas older people have slower metabolisms. There is nothing you can really do to control these factors, to some extent your body burns what it burns.
But, there are two parts of your metabolism that you do have control over. The first is physical activity, which can help you burn more calories. But, there is a limit to how much activity one can do in a day. The second has to do with digestion, called the thermic effect of food (1). Certain foods give your body a calorie burning “boost” after eating, speeding up your metabolism for a short amount of time. This doesn’t mean these foods should be consumed in unlimited quantities, too much of a good thing can also cause you to gain weight, but they can help.
Foods that Speed up Metabolism
These seven foods have been shown to speed up metabolism and may help you lose weight quickly:
Spicy food is well known for its metabolism boosting properties. Hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin that increases body temperature when eaten, boosting metabolism. A 2012 study found that a 2.56 mg dose of capsaicin increased metabolism by 20.5% (2). The main problem with this study is that the dosage used is way more than what a normal person would tolerate in terms of spiciness. Regardless, try to add a little bit of spice to your diet because even a little can speed things up.
Starting your day with a cup of coffee can also give your metabolism a boost. The effects are probably related to the caffeine, so other caffeine-containing foods can also provide the same effect. Research has shown that metabolism increases for 24 hours after drinking a cup of coffee and the remains elevated overnight. It also increases fat burn over a 24 hour period (3). But, don’t drink a ton of coffee to try to speed up your metabolism. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety and elevated blood pressure. A cup or two is probably all you need to prevent side effects and still speed up your metabolism.
The type of fat and protein found in milk has been shown to boost metabolism. Milk primarily contains medium chain fatty acids, a type of fat that is easily burned off as energy and increases metabolism. These fats have also been shown to help the body use carbohydrates more effectively and prevents them from being stored as fat (4). Whey, one of the proteins in milk, also improves insulin sensitivity and metabolism, due to its amino acid profile (5).
Beans contain a specific type of fiber called resistant starch. Once this fiber reaches the large intestine, it is fermented by bacteria in the colon, a process which has been shown to increase metabolism, decrease fat storage, and increase the feeling of fullness after meals (6).
Coconut oil is also an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids, similar to the type of metabolism-boosting fat found in milk (7). These types of fats are more likely to be used for energy, instead of being stored as fat, increasing calorie burn and metabolism. Remember, that coconut oil is still a fat, so eating huge quantities of it won’t result in weight loss. But, using it as a fat for cooking may give your metabolism the boost it needs.
Cinnamon doesn’t directly boost metabolism, but instead improves how carbohydrates are used in the body by helping maintain a stable blood sugar. When blood sugar levels are stable, this prevents the body from storing extra carbs as fat. A study by the American Diabetes Association found that cinnamon helped lower blood sugar by 30% (8). To get the most benefit, start your day with a dash of cinnamon in your coffee for a delicious, metabolism boosting treat.
A 2003 study found that drinking 16 ounces of water sped up metabolism by about 30% and kept it elevated for 40 minutes (9). If you drank your required eight 8 ounce glasses a day, this would result in 100 extra calories burned per day. These additional calories could add up to a 12 pound weight loss over a one year period without changing anything else.
How to Lose Weight Quickly
Unfortunately, even eating these metabolism “boosting” foods won’t help you lose 20 pounds by tomorrow. We wish we had the secret to losing weight quickly, but it is about time and consistent effort. It’s also about understanding how YOUR body works! Regardless, adding a few of these foods into your diet can give you the boost you need to help make losing weight a little easier.
To find out how to discover what YOUR body needs, check out the 131 Method.