The Top Five Foods to Kick-Start Your Metabolism
Believe it or not, living a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard as it seems. Whether you’re currently attempting to lose those extra kilos ahead of summer, or simply trying to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle, it can help to know what kinds of foods will give you a helping hand and get you on the road to kick-starting your metabolism.
What many people aren’t aware of is that our metabolism does a lot more than just burn calories. In reality, it’s a complicated system that involves almost every chemical reaction that takes place within your cells, and provides energy for most of your body’s vital processes.
Your metabolism’s efficiency, or “speed,” is reliant on many different factors - from the types of food you eat, to the amount of sleep that you get each night.
And yes, we’re all that little bit jealous of those friends who have “speedier” metabolisms than us. However, there are some foods that you can try to make yours work a little more quickly.
So, after much thought, here’s our pick - the top 5 foods to kick-start your metabolism.
1. Citrus Fix - Lemons
Our favourite citrus fruit, the humble lemon, is absolutely amazing for your health. Why? Lemons are packed with vitamin C, an essential nutrient that protects the body against immune system deficiencies. Vitamin C also creates collagen synthesis, which is wonderful for those wanting to keep those pesky wrinkles at bay. Lemons also aid digestion by having a positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Lemon juice cleanses the bowel by flushing out waste and stimulating the release of gastric juices.
Bonus round! Did you know that lemon juice can also relieve bloating, indigestion and heartburn!
So, how do lemons aid your metabolism?
Lemons can help to increase your metabolic rate by allowing you to burn more calories and store less fat. They slow down the rate of starch digestion, and keep your blood sugar levels balanced. This actually prevents spikes in insulin, and reduces your fat storage.
Lemons also reduce your appetite. Lemons contain a fibre called Pectin, a soluble fibre commonly found in citrus fruits. Pectin can help stave off hunger, as the fibre will leave you feeling fuller, for longer. And, if you’re feeling full, you’re less likely to snack or make poor meal choices.
Try squeezing lemon juice onto your salad instead of dressing, or start your day with a big glass of water with half a lemon.
2. H20 (by the gallon!)
We all know how important water is, for both weight loss and your overall health. Without chemicals, added sugars or unnatural additives water will improve your energy, boost your brain power, increase your physical performance, keep your skin healthy and glowing, and cleanse your body of toxins and other waste.
So, what benefits does water carry for your metabolism? Well, the metabolic process would not take place without water! The metabolic process consists of many chemical reactions. For chemicals to come into contact and react (and metabolise), they need to be dissolved in a solvent substance, and surprise, water is a great solvent! Once they’re dissolved, chemicals have the ability to move around more freely, which creates energy in our cells.
Studies have shown that drinking a glass of ice water in the morning, before your coffee, can boost your metabolic rate by around 30% in healthy men and women. Water helps to flush toxins and fat from the cells in your body, which in turn can aid the weight loss process. When we drink cold water, our metabolism spikes as it enters the body. In order to be absorbed, the cold water must be warmed up in the stomach – it is this warming process that causes the metabolism to skyrocket.
So tomorrow morning, switch up your routine and down a big glass of iced water before you get your caffeine cravings hit. You never know, you might find that it will wake you up even more than the coffee would. And, of course, water will rehydrate you from the night before (we lose water through respiration while sleeping), which can also have a positive effect on metabolism.
3. Green Tea
Tea lovers - good news for you! Green Tea is proven to work wonders for your metabolism, and health in general. Packed with antioxidants and nutrients, green tea has been proven to improve cardiovascular health, reduce risk of certain cancers, prevent tooth decay and help with weight loss.
Why green, and not black tea? This comes down to the way tea is processed. Black teas go through an oxidising process, whilst green teas do not, meaning that they can retain key non-oxidised phenolic compounds. It’s these compounds that play a role in cancer, and other disease prevention treatment.
So, how can green tea increase your metabolic rate? Green tea contains compounds called polyphenols, which are found in a variety of natural plant food sources that have antioxidant properties - including wine, chocolate and vegetables. The polyphenols in green tea work to intensify levels of fat oxidation and the rate at which your body turns food into calories.
This powerful tea has also been shown to suppress fat absorption, support healthy glucose levels after meals, prevent spikes in insulin to lessen fat storage, and reduce overall appetite.
Our tip for getting that green tea fix? Try it iced, add lemon or lime or even try it with soda water to make a healthy, sugar-free soft drink!
4. Spice it Up - Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is used in a variety of ways, for both medicinal and cooking purposes, around the world. It’s one of the hotter spices, but besides from simply firing up the palette, studies show that cayenne pepper can help to speed up metabolism and suppress your appetite.
How can it boost your metabolism? Cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaicin, which is found in many hot peppers. Capsaicin is known to boost metabolism an extra 15 to 20% after eating it.
When we eat excessively spicy foods, such as cayenne peppers, our body temperature rises. To combat our rising temperature, our body attempts to cool itself. When this cooling process happens, we burn calories! Of course, you need to moderate the amount of spice you intake for the calorie burning to be effective. Let’s just say we wouldn’t recommend cayenne peppers for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Another benefit of this spicy pepper is that it can help to suppress your appetite, and reduce your cravings for salty, fatty or super sweet foods.
If you’re not a spice fan, start small, try sprinkling some cayenne pepper powder on your next meal.
5. Omega 3 Fix - Salmon
Not only is Salmon a great source lean protein, but it also is a big metabolism booster!
Whilst it may be higher in calories than most whitefish, salmon is low in saturated fat and the omega-3 essential fatty acid. Omega-3 fats are a healthy fat that the body does not produce on its on. They have a broad array of benefits - from improving cardiovascular (heart) health, lowering and balancing cholesterol levels, and preventing clogged arteries.
How does salmon boost your metabolism?
Omega-3 fatty acids help support healthy leptin levels. Leptin is a master hormone in the body that controls hunger and feelings of fullness. High levels of leptin are most commonly associated with slow metabolisms and with weight gain. Eating salmon is known to reduce the body’s level of leptin, which can in turn promote calorie burning.
So why not put a fillet of salmon on the pan this evening, as an added bonus, eating plenty of salmon can work wonders for your hair, skin and nails!
Adding these simple ingredients into your diet is sure to give your metabolism just the kickstart it needs to get you on the road to a healthy lifestyle.
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