7 Metabolism-Boosting Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

If you suspect a sluggish metabolism is the cause of your inability to lose weight, there’s a good chance you’re right.

December 5, 2016
turmeric latte

Adapted from The All-Day Fat-Burning Cookbook

What you eat can have a profound impact on your metabolism—good and bad. Keeping your thyroid healthy and building and pre-serving your muscles are the most important things you can do to ensure a healthy metabolism for as long as possible.

More: 5 Metabolic Myths Holding You Back from Fat Loss

However, there are some foods that can help as well. Some of these help your metabolism indirectly by lowering inflammation, while others have a more direct impact by increasing what's called thermogenesis (or the production of heat), which directly contributes to burning more fat. What follows is a list of many of the foods you should be enjoying and how they benefit your metabolism and ability to lose weight.

1/7 Shutterstock

Not only is it an anti-inflammatory spice full of antioxidant properties, ginger is also one of the most amazing metabolism-boosting foods there is. Its metabolism-boosting traits are due to the unique compounds it contains, most notably gingerol. Gingerol not only aids in digestion but increases body temperature and metabolic rates as much as 20 percent after eating.

More: 6 Healthy Ways to Use Ginger

Cayenne pepper
2/7 Shutterstock
Cayenne pepper

Cayenne is practically bursting with a compound called capsaicin. It will supercharge your metabolism. Capsaicin mildly increases your body temperature, thereby increasing your metabolism and burning fats in the process. Capsaicin also releases endorphins from the brain. These morphinelike molecules naturally occur in the body and create a major feel-good factor once they're released from the brain.

Not only is cayenne one of the best metabolism-boosting foods you can keep around, it also reduces the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in your blood, thereby lessening your chances of cardiovascular problems. 

3/7 Shutterstock

Cinnamon isn't just a great topping for apple pie or hot chocolate. It's also an amazing metabolism-boosting food. It contains a generous amount of coumarin, a substance that regulates carbohydrate metabolism in the body. Coumarin also enhances the effects of insulin, thereby increasing the glucose uptake by the tissues in your body. And cinnamon helps in thinning the blood by decreasing its coagulation profile.

More: 7 Fat-Burning Foods to Add to Your Real-Food Diet

Those properties alone make cinnamon one of the best metabolism-boosting foods there is, but there's still more: It's also a well-known appetite suppressant, which makes it a tremendous help when it comes to weight management. It's not only amazing for your health and fat-loss efforts but adds such a wonderful flavor to so many different dishes.

4/7 Shutterstock

In certain systems of medicine like Ayurveda, turmeric is considered a wonder food, thanks to its abundant anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antipyretic properties. A very flavorful spice, turmeric is one of the main ingredients in traditional Indian curry recipes. It is rich in curcumin, which is the most potent inflammation-fighting compound in our food supply. Since inflammation is a big health problem and part of the reason why so many cannot lose weight, reducing inflammation inside your body is a big deal. That's why you'll find this spice in many weight loss dishes, including this turmeric latte that'll replace your PSLs

Cruciferous vegetables
5/7 Shutterstock
Cruciferous vegetables

Although most of the research on cruciferous vegetables like kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli tends to highlight their amazing cancer-fighting properties, they also indirectly help you keep the weight off.

More: The Biggest Healthy Eating Myths You Keep Falling For

First, these fibrous veggies are loaded with fiber, which keeps you full longer and prevents you from overeating. Second, they contain sulforaphanes (and other similar compounds) that are vital for your body's detoxification process. This is important because if your body cannot detoxify properly, it will have trouble regulating energy metabolism and blood sugar and removing toxins and excess hormones that build up within it. This toxicity issue is one of the six fat triggers that halt your weight loss

Coconut oil
6/7 Shutterstock
Coconut oil

Coconut oil has some unique metabolism-revving properties. That's because it's predominantly made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), whereas other oils are rich in long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which are more readily stored than burned. The medium-chain fatty acids have a different metabolic pathway compared to the long-chain fats. Basically, MCTs are more rapidly absorbed by the body and more quickly metabolized (burned) as fuel. The result of this accelerated metabolic conversion is that instead of being stored as fat, the calories contained in MCTs are very efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by your organs and muscles.

More: 5 Ways to Use Coconut Oil (Other Than Cooking)

Interestingly, MCTs have a slightly lower caloric content than long-chain fats (8.3 calories per gram versus 9 calories per gram, respectively). In addition to their lower caloric content, MCTs are not stored in fat deposits in the body as much as LCTs. Furthermore, MCTs have been shown to enhance thermogenesis (fat burning). So coconut oil and its MCTs seem to offer a triple approach to weight loss: (1) They have a lower calorie content than other fats; (2) they are less likely to be stored as fat; and (3) they contribute to an enhanced metabolism, which burns even more calories.

Protein foods
7/7 Shutterstock

Okay, this is more of a food group than an actual food, but protein's role in helping you lose weight and keeping your metabolic rate up cannot be overlooked. 

It's the most important food group you need to know about for this purpose. When it comes to losing weight, curbing cravings, and preserving precious muscle mass, there's one consistent finding in the literature: Protein intake is crucial.

More: Your Best Sources of Protein

For lasting leanness, starting your day with 20 to 30 grams of protein is one of the simplest and most important things you can do, and that's why many of the breakfast and smoothie recipes in this book incorporate a variety of protein sources. Why? Because protein keeps you full longer, which decreases cravings and your desire to eat. Plus it increases your metabolic rate (far more than carbs or fat), which helps you burn more calories.

As important as protein is, it's also important not to obsess about it. If, for whatever reason, you don't get enough protein on a particular day, don't worry—you'll be fine. In fact, your liver and muscles have amino acid pools from which they can create complete proteins in times of need or when protein intake is a little lower. What matters most is that your average protein intake over time is adequate: not too much, not too little. 

See Next