The One Food Scientifically Proven to Boost Metabolism

Healthy, gluten-free grains collection (quinoa, brown rice, millet, amaranth, teff, buckwheat, sorghum), top view of small round bowls against rustic wood.
Whole grains have been scientifically proven to aid in weight loss. (Image: marekuliasz/iStock/Getty Images)

There’s no shortage of things we’re willing to do to keep our metabolism revving, from increased exercise to ditching refined grains. But did you know you could actually boost your metabolism and burn more calories just by eating one amazingly healthy food? Yup! Say hello to your new best friend: whole grains.

We’ve always known that whole grains are healthier than their refined versions because they provide you with a much-needed dose of fiber.

And, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, whole grains have an unexpectedly awesome capability to increase metabolism. That’s right, trading refined grains for whole grains can increase your overall calorie loss by reducing the calories retained during digestion and increasing metabolism.

Oatmeal for the win!

This has to do with the fact that whole grains (like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice) aid with fiber absorption, enabling the body to speed up metabolism and ultimately burn calories.

“Many previous studies have suggested benefits of whole grains and dietary fiber on chronic disease risk. This study helps to quantify how whole grains and fiber work to benefit weight management, and lends credibility to previously reported associations between increased whole grains and fiber consumption, lower body weight and better health,” explained first author of the study Phil J. Karl, Ph.D.

Organic whole grain bread from the bakery
The extra calories lost by people who eat whole grains was the equivalent of a brisk, 30-minute walk. (Image: Paul Williams - Funkystock/imageBROKER/Getty Images)

Researchers provided all the food to the 81 men and women who participated in the study, ensuring that the only discrepancy in the different group’s diets was the source of grains. Compared to individuals who ate refined grains without much fiber, those maintaining a diet rich in whole grains while matching the recommended dietary allowance for fiber based on age and sex lost an additional 100 calories per day due to a combination of increased resting metabolic rate and greater fecal loss.

“The extra calories lost by those who ate whole grains was the equivalent of a brisk, 30-minute walk or enjoying an extra small cookie every day, in terms of its impact,” Tufts University’s Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., senior author of the study, told Tufts Now.

If you want to reap the benefits of this new study, remember that it isn’t enough to just toss a little quinoa in your salad. In addition to maintaining a high-fiber diet overall, the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA recommend a minimum of three ounces of whole grains for women and four ounces for men per day, which is around one-and-a-half to two cups of brown rice or oatmeal per day.

Need ideas for some nutritiously delicious whole-grain foods? Check out this list of fiber-rich whole grains and get your metabolism going.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you believe whole grains actually speed up metabolism? Do you eat enough whole grains every day? Will you change your eating habits due to the findings of this study?

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