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Foods That Speed Up Your Metabolism & Help You Lose Weight

author image Jennifer Andrews
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Foods That Speed Up Your Metabolism & Help You Lose Weight
Protein may assist in boosting metabolism. Photo Credit Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images


Metabolism refers to the process by which the food you eat is converted into energy required by the body to perform necessary functions. A higher metabolic rate can benefit weight-loss efforts by helping you to burn off more calories than what you take in. Although exercise is one of the most effective methods to boost metabolism, there are also several foods that can help you burn fat and lose weight.


High protein foods have a greater thermic effect than carbohdyrate-rich foods, according to a study in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." The thermic effect refers to the energy required for digestion, absorption, and elimination of nutrients. Protein's general thermic effect is 20 to 35 percent of the energy/food consumed whereas carbohydrates varies between 5 and 15 percent. A study in the journal showed that higher protein meals may also increase satiety levels, or the feeling of fullness, versus lower protein meals. Theoretically, this would reduce total caloric intake, which could result in weight loss. Common protein-rich foods include lean beef, chicken, turkey and pork, as well as dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Vegetarian or vegan sources include tofu, tempeh, seeds and nuts.

Green Tea

Green tea is often referred to as a metabolism booster. This is supported by a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" that showed a green tea-caffeine combination may stimulate both thermogenesis and fat oxidation in the short term. Increased fat oxidation results in more oxygen being delivered to the muscles for physical activity and subsequent fat-burning. Furthermore, green tea--caffeine mixtures contain large amounts of tea catechins, such as EGCG, that inhibit enzymes that degrade norepinephrine. This process may speed up the nervous system and brain activities, thereby increasing physical activity level and ultimately fat-burning potential.


Capsaicin is a chemical found in many hot peppers and chilis that gives them their spice. Capsaicin has been shown to increase both energy expenditure and fat burning levels. A study performed on rats showed that the consumption of chili decreased fat levels by increasing energy and lipid metabolism. Common foods containing capsaicin include jalapenos, habaneros and cayenne peppers.

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