Everywhere you look people are writing articles claiming to have discovered the latest “miracle food” that will burn off the pounds while you sit on your butt and eat. Well, sadly, we all know that is not true. Without regular exercise, a decent night’s sleep and a thought-out meal plan, your metabolic rate is going to be dragging. However, there are some things you can eat that’ll move the needle into the fat-burning zone. And all of these foods are delicious, nutritious, or both!
So why not? Here are some of the best ones:
Fish: Most of us have read about the benefits of fish oil, which is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Found in many common oily fish, like mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, tuna and salmon, it can also be taken in capsules (at least 300 mg/day) by those who are averse to seafood. Fish consumption has been found to boost your calorie burn by as much as 400 calories a day. Fish is also full of great, low-fat, muscle-building protein, which requires your body to burn more calories to digest it.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: These include arugula, chard, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens and spinach. They are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and lots of fiber. While the vitamins are great antioxidants and very healthy for you, the fiber is where the rubber really meets the road as far as your metabolism goes. Your body expends a lot more calories digesting fiber and protein than it does simply digesting carbohydrates. This is called the thermic effect — the amount of calories required to digest food can sometimes be almost as much as the number of calories in the food itself. Dark leafies also contain many B vitamins, which are necessary to produce the enzymes for metabolism. Most other vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories and can boost your burn, but the cream of the crop, nutritionally speaking, are the dark green leafy vegetables. So listen to Popeye and eat your spinach!
Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been proven to have several anticarcinogenic properties. And like the dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes are a good source of fiber. But tomatoes can also work overtime
to flusj fat, as they contain citric, malic and oxalic acids, which support your body’s kid ney functions, helping your body eliminate more waste and fat.
Blueberries: Blueberries contain lots of fiber, and many contain so much, they can be said to have “negative calories,” meaning your body burns more calories digesting them than it stores. One cup of blue berries only has about 80 calories, but it has 4 whole grams of fiber. Your body will expend much of those 80 calories digesting those 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries also contain lots of antioxidants and are believed to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Plus they taste great! Try adding them to a high-fiber un-sweetened cereal or oatmeal in the morning to get your metabolism up and running at the start of your day.
Whole Grains: Well, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably gotten that fiber is key to keeping the metabolic fires burning. Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. This is where careful label reading comes in. Lots of items that are purported to contain whole grains only have just enough to make the claim truthful, and may be full of insulin-spiking carbohydrates or sugars, which will take your metabolism in the wrong direction. Check the ingredient list of your breads and cereals carefully and make sure the lion’s share of the ingredients is whole grains.
Chilies, Curries and Other Spices: Ever eaten a particularly spicy meal and felt your heart race a bit faster and your forehead start to perspire? The capsaicin found in many hot peppers and other spices can fire up your metabolism while it fires up your mouth. In fact, some studies have shown a 50% increase in metabolism for 3 hours after eating capsaicin. So, it helps to keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand at mealtimes. You can also use spices to add flavor to recipes instead of salty or fatty ingredients to help kick your metabolism into a higher gear.
Green Tea: Researchers have found that green tea consumption can increase calorie-burning by up to 4%. It’s believed that green tea accomplishes this by helping to increase metabolic rates, as well as fat oxidation. Studies have also shown that green tea can reduce sugar cravings and help inhibit enzymes that slow digestion, thus raising metabolic rates. In addition to its metabolic properties, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, making it one of the most healthful beverage choices around.
Ice Water: Almost every nutritionist will recommend drinking 8 eight-ounce glasses of water every day, but did you know that if you drink ice water (instead of room-temperature water) your body will burn an extra nine calories per glass? Drinking room-temperature water can burn about 16 calories per glass — that’s 25 calories per glass for ice water. So eight glasses of cold water a day can be responsible for burning 200 calories! Besides, water is necessary for all your bodily processes, including the ones that control your metabolism. If you’re underhydrated, your body will underperform. Water also flushes out fat deposits and toxins, which can hamper your energy.
Remember, a good night’s sleep and smaller, more evenly spaced meals can be your best metabolic friends. And the best thing to really get your metabolism going is exercise. Stress has been found to produce cortisol , a steroid that inhibits the metabolism. I recommend that you try to relax…and have a blueberry or a piece of fish!