Eating a healthy, balanced diet and just the right number of calories is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. But there are certain foods that can boost your metabolism and kickstart your weight loss, including:
Rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, avocados help you feel fuller for longer. In fact, one study found that eating half of an avocado at lunch helped people feel satisfied for longer and reduced the desire to eat hours after a meal (1).
Avocado also has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can interfere with metabolism. Just mind your portions when eating this nutrient-dense food. Avocados have 80 calories and 8 grams of fat in one quarter of an avocado.
2. Chili Pepper
Consuming spicy foods like chili peppers can help rev up your metabolism. Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers, boosts metabolism and can help with weight loss (2) because it helps the body burn fat more quickly while reducing appetite.
Other research from 2012 found that capsaicin alone can help the body burn an additional 50 calories per day (3).
Many people consider eggs to be the perfect food because they contain a healthy dose of protein and fat while being low in calories. Eggs also contain B vitamins, which help speed up metabolism. B vitamins play an important role in converting food into energy.
In one study, participants ate the same number of calories each day. One group ate eggs for breakfast while the other ate bagels. The group that ate eggs lost 65% more body weight, had a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference and saw a 61% greater loss in body mass index (4).
Asparagus is rich in carnitine, a nutrient that affects your body’s metabolism of fatty acids and energy production.
Like other green vegetables, asparagus is rich in nutrients. It’s an excellent source of:
- Vitamins A, C, E and K
- Trace minerals
One cup of cooked asparagus has 4 grams of protein, 40 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 404 mg of potassium.
5. Whole Grains
Loaded with fiber and other nutrients, whole grains can boost your metabolism. Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, and the anti-inflammatory properties can help with weight management.
One study from 2017 found that replacing refined grains with whole grains resulted in a moderate increase in metabolic rate (5).
Examples of whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat bread
Legumes are a great source of plant protein and fiber. They keep you fuller for longer. The amino acids in beans also play an important role in muscle-building. The greater your muscle mass, the more calories your body burns at rest.
Eating about a cup of beans each day can result in a half a pound of weight loss over six weeks (6).
Try adding these beans and legumes to your diet to realize their metabolism-boosting benefits:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Split peas
Although not technically a food, it’s hard not to include coffee on a list of metabolism-boosting foods. Caffeine’s ability to increase metabolism is well-known and well-documented.
Studies show that caffeine can speed up metabolism by as much as 11% (7).
Excess caffeine consumption can be detrimental to your health, but a few cups a day should be fine. Be mindful of the sweeteners and creamers that you add, as they add calories to the drink and may offset caffeine’s metabolism-boosting properties.
Cacao is the seed that’s used to make chocolate, and it has metabolism-boosting properties. Studies in mice found that cacao extracts aid in the expression of genes that help the body use fat for energy (8).
Other research suggests that cocoa may play reduce the number of calories the body absorbs (9).
Cacao can be purchased in supplement form or as a powder. To maximize the benefits of this food, opt for the raw version. Processing cacao can reduce the number of beneficial compounds.
Seaweed is a rich source of iodine, which plays an essential role in the production of thyroid hormones and the function of your thyroid gland.
The thyroid also plays a significant role in metabolism regulation. Making seaweed a part of your diet can help meet your iodine needs and keep your metabolism working properly.
Some varieties of seaweed also contain a compound called fucoxanthin, which can help speed up metabolism. This compound is mostly found in brown seaweeds, and it works to increase the number of calories you burn.
10. Green Tea
Green tea’s health-promoting properties are well-known, but this tea can also rev up your metabolism.
One smaller study from 2013 found that drinking 4 cups of green tea per day can significantly reduce waist size, body mass index (BMI), body weight and systolic blood pressure (10).
Green tea offers other benefits, too, such as:
- Antioxidant properties
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Anti-cancer effects
- Antimicrobial properties
- Heart and oral health benefits
Green vegetables in general can give your metabolism a boost, but broccoli contains a special substance known as glucoraphanin.
Glucoraphanin can help balance your metabolism while reducing blood fat and the risk of disease.
To maximize the metabolism-enhancing benefits of broccoli, look for varieties that have even higher levels of glucoraphanin, such as Beneforte broccoli.
12. Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard can also increase your metabolism because they are rich in non-heme iron. Iron plays an important role in metabolism.
Pair your leafy greens with lemon or bell pepper, which are rich in vitamin C and will increase the body’s absorption of non-heme iron.
Many varieties of leafy greens also contain magnesium, which also improves metabolic function.
The foods that you eat play an important role in your health and how your body functions, including your metabolism. Some foods have special compounds that help rev up your metabolism, making it easier to burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight. Try adding these 12 foods into your diet to give your metabolism a kickstart.
1. Wien, M., Haddad, E., Oda, K. et al. A randomized 3×3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Nutr J 12, 155 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-155
2. Zheng, J., Zheng, S., Feng, Q., Zhang, Q., & Xiao, X. (2017). Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications. Bioscience reports, 37(3), BSR20170286. https://doi.org/10.1042/BSR20170286
3. Whiting, S., Derbyshire, E., & Tiwari, B. K. (2012). Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite, 59(2), 341–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2012.05.015
4. Vander Wal, J. S., Gupta, A., Khosla, P., & Dhurandhar, N. V. (2008). Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International journal of obesity (2005), 32(10), 1545–1551. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2008.130
5. Karl, J. P., Meydani, M., Barnett, J. B., Vanegas, S. M., Goldin, B., Kane, A., Rasmussen, H., Saltzman, E., Vangay, P., Knights, D., Chen, C. O., Das, S. K., Jonnalagadda, S. S., Meydani, S. N., & Roberts, S. B. (2017). Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 105(3), 589–599. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.139683
6. Shana J Kim, Russell J de Souza, Vivian L Choo, Vanessa Ha, Adrian I Cozma, Laura Chiavaroli, Arash Mirrahimi, Sonia Blanco Mejia, Marco Di Buono, Adam M Bernstein, Lawrence A Leiter, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Vladimir Vuksan, Joseph Beyene, Cyril WC Kendall, David JA Jenkins, John L Sievenpiper, Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 5, May 2016, Pages 1213–1223, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.124677
7. Koot, P., & Deurenberg, P. (1995). Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 39(3), 135–142. https://doi.org/10.1159/000177854
8. Matsui, N., Ito, R., Nishimura, E., Yoshikawa, M., Kato, M., Kamei, M., Shibata, H., Matsumoto, I., Abe, K., & Hashizume, S. (2005). Ingested cocoa can prevent high-fat diet-induced obesity by regulating the expression of genes for fatty acid metabolism. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 21(5), 594–601. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2004.10.008
9. Gu, Y., Hurst, W. J., Stuart, D. A., & Lambert, J. D. (2011). Inhibition of key digestive enzymes by cocoa extracts and procyanidins. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 59(10), 5305–5311. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf200180n
10. Mousavi, A., Vafa, M., Neyestani, T., Khamseh, M., & Hoseini, F. (2013). The effects of green tea consumption on metabolic and anthropometric indices in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 18(12), 1080–1086.