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Happy Monday! Today we’re diving into the world of metabolism and how we can boost metabolism through food.
Metabolism is the combination of biological processes that our bodies use to live. It’s pretty amazing when you stop to think about everything we do in a day. Sleeping, breathing, eating and digesting food, turning food into energy, and using that energy – all of it is tied to our metabolism.
We mostly think of metabolism in terms of calories burned and weight loss. The rate at which we burn calories is known as the metabolic rate. Our basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories we need per day to fuel our most basic functions, like breathing.
The basal metabolic rate is important when you’re trying to lose weight. Why? Because we burn calories just by being alive. Everything we do – breathing, sitting, walking across the room, lifting a coffee cup, bingeing Netflix – burns some calories. BMR is calculated as the energy needed to keep those most basic functions working. In order to lose weight, our daily calorie intake needs to be less than our BMR.
You can calculate your BMR using an online calculator. Or you calculate it on your own if you’re interested in these kinds of things. I’m a nerd, so I am. Here’s the formula to manually calculate your BMR.
- Men: BMR = 66+(6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
- Women: BMR = 655+(4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
To find your basic daily calorie intake, multiply your BMR from above by one of the following based on your activity level:
- Sedentary: BMR * 1.2
- Light activity: BMR * 1.375
- Moderate activity: BMR * 1.55
- Highly active: BMR * 1.725
- Extreme activity: BMR * 1.9
Most of us will fall into one of the first 3 categories. The last two would apply to athletes or those with very physically demanding jobs.
The calorie intake you end up with is considered what you need to maintain your current weight. If you’re looking to lose weight, you need to reduce the number of calories you’re consuming in a day. A deficit of 500 calories will roughly translate into losing a pound a week.
There are many factors that contribute to your metabolism. Genes, age, weight, even environmental factors can have an impact on it. While you can’t change your age or your genes, there are changes you can make to help boost metabolism and help your body to work more efficiently.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, getting exercise, and drinking plenty of water will help too.
Certain foods have been shown to help boost metabolism. Many of these foods are high in fiber and low in calories, which helps to kickstart fat burning. These foods also have other amazing health benefits that help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, boost the effectiveness of your immune system, and improve bone and muscle health. If you’re following the keto diet, these are all foods that you will want to incorporate into your meal planning too.
Here are 15 foods to boost metabolism and help you feel better!
15 Foods to Boost Metabolism
Cucumbers have a high water content and almost no calories. They’re also a good source of antioxidants. Cucumbers are a natural detoxifier which helps flush out toxins from your system and improve liver function. Add cucumbers to salads, sandwiches or wraps. You can also add sliced cucumbers to water for a refreshing and hydrating drink.
Avocados are considered a “superfood” because of all the benefits packed into it. They’re a great source of protein, are high in fiber, and contain the good fats which help to reduce cholesterol. Avocados aren’t just for guacamole anymore! Put them in salads, sandwiches, wraps or blend avocados to make an awesome dipping sauce.
Spinach and other leafy greens are great to boost metabolism. In addition to a high fiber content, spinach is a good source of iron which promotes bone and muscle health. To get more spinach in your diet, add a handful or two to eggs, stir-fry, soups, and casseroles!
Broccoli is another green vegetable packed with fiber and antioxidants. It’s also a good source of calcium and Vitamin C which help improve immune system function. Broccoli makes a great snack raw because the fiber helps you feel full for longer. Or combine broccoli with other healthy vegetables in a veggie stir-fry.
Ginger has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. It contains anti-inflammatory properties, aids with digestion and is a great immune booster too. Ginger is also considered to be a thermogenic food which causes the body to naturally produce heat which in turn burns calories! Put some freshly grated ginger in a smoothie to add an immune boost. Or add it to stir-fry, salads or soups!
Green tea also has amazing properties that help to boost metabolism, decrease heart disease risk, and improve immune system function. The caffeine in green tea can help burn energy and calories too. Green tea has thermogenic properties to help burn even more calories.
If you like to spice things up, you’ll be happy to know that spicy peppers like jalapenos or habaneros are great to boost metabolism. Yep, this is another one with thermogenic properties. That heat from the peppers actually helps you burn calories. You can add jalapenos to just about anything to give it a kick. Or if you’re really brave, eat ’em raw!
Salmon and other types of fish like tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease the risk of heart disease and can help lower blood pressure. And it’s just good! Salmon is probably my favorite fish. A nice grilled salmon with herbs and olive oil is a super easy weeknight dinner for me. It’s also good in salads, especially served with a light vinaigrette or oil-based dressing.
Almonds are high in fiber and protein but also in calories. You’ll want to carefully watch your intake of almonds, which is hard because they’re so yummy. The good fats found in almonds will get your body fired up to burn some fat. You can add sliced almonds to salads, veggie dishes, or even blend them to make a butter.
Carrots have historically been a good healthy choice. They’re high in fiber and antioxidants, improve your vision, and can even reduce the signs of premature aging! Carrots are readily available and are easy on the budget. Keep baby carrots or sliced carrot sticks around for a quick and easy snack. They’re also great in salads or a veggie mix.
Like cucumbers, lemons are a natural way to detox. Improving liver function also helps metabolism since your liver won’t have to work so hard to break down fats and release those ketones needed for energy. Add a few slices of lemon to water and drink daily. Or double-up on the detox benefit and mix cucumbers and lemons with your water.
Egg whites contain no carbs, fat or calories but they are packed with protein and amino acids. They have also been shown to decrease the risk of heart-related disease, help build healthy muscles and even improve skin health! My favorite way to eat egg whites is to scramble them with spinach and feta cheese. It makes a great breakfast or light dinner.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a cabbage fan so this one is a little tough for me. But cabbage is another great source of fiber, healthy B-Vitamins, and Vitamin C. It’s also been shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties that aid digestion. To get more cabbage in your diet, add shredded cabbage to salads or soups. You could also coat slices of cabbage with olive oil, herbs, and spices for a roasted cabbage steak.
I think celery has been a staple in most modern diets for decades. Why? Celery has almost no calories so it’s the perfect food to nosh on as a snack when you’re dieting. It’s high-water content also helps combat dehydration. But celery is also an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help lower high cholesterol, fight high blood pressure, promote liver health and prevent ulcers! Add celery to smoothies or just cut into sticks for an easy on-the-go snack.
Eat Good Food
Simply eating the foods on this list won’t guarantee a radical change to your metabolism overnight. But focusing on the quality of foods you eat, making healthy lifestyle choices like drinking water and exercising, will help regulate your metabolism and make it easier to drop extra pounds and help you to feel your best every day.