Choosing to eat healthy is probably one of the best things you can do for you health, next to exercising.
Whether you're trying to lose weight or improve your health, a healthy diet is your best chance of getting there.
It’s the truth.
According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of "The Hunger Fix", whole, unrefined foods are your heroes.
Here is why.
Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed foods, so you’re zapping more calories—and storing less fat.
If you pick the right foods, "studies show that you can burn up to additional 300 calories a day," Says Dr. Pamela.
Granted, extra 300 calories a day is nothing to sneeze at, but when combined with regular exercise, you can lose weight quickly.
In today’s post, I’ll share 10 delicious metabolism-boosting foods that’ll double or even triple your calorie and fat burn. All proved by science.
Before we get to these amazing foods, let’s first find out "what is metabolism" and how it works.
What is metabolism?
Every health and fitness magazine talks about metabolism, and how it can influence weight loss or weight gain.
Yet, it’s still not clear what it is to many.
Per "Mayo Clinic", "metabolism definition" is the process by which the body converts the food and water you eat and drink into energy for immediate use or to be stored for later.
This energy isn’t just for your workout—or your muscles.
Your body needs energy even when it is at rest to perform its functions. Functions such as breathing, circulating blood, and maintaining cells may be hidden, but they certain use the energy.
Your heart, lungs, and brain also all require the energy generated in your metabolism powerhouse.
The number calories your body burn or uses to for these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate or BMR—what you might call metabolism.
In fact this ongoing functions of your body (BMR) accounts for about 70 percent of the calories your body burn every day!
Your BMR is mainly influenced by your age, body size, gender, genetics, and lifestyle choices such as eating and exercising.
If you’re eating a balanced diet and working out regularly, but are still not losing weight as quickly as you like, try revving up your metabolism by incorporating the following 10 foods (and drinks!) into your diet.
1. Tart Cherries
And that's tart cherries.
Tart cherry contains a antioxidant compounds called anthocyanin.
And let's not forget this remark from ever famous Dr. Oz.
According to one episode of Dr. Oz, cherry juice made of tart cherry is the ultimate antioxidant powerhouse and the anti-inflammatory properties found in tart cherry can reduce pain, lower your risk of heart disease and more.
Despite all those healthy benefits, tart cherries are often an overlooked super food.
In some research experiments, as part of normal diet, rats were given a high-fat diet with whole powdered tart cherries.
Within 3 months, the rats had lost roughly 17% of their body weight.
It's a significant finding of the fat burning and weight management effects of tart cherries.
Researchers also found that rats with tart cherry induced diet experienced lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than those without the diet.
Tart cherries is also now known to help muscle recover after a hard workout—so if you’re looking for a healthy way to combat post-exercise soreness, tart cherries can be a tremendous help.
According to studies, one cup of tart cherry juice is enough to significantly reduce muscle inflammation and soreness and speed up recovery.
Have you ever heard of the term "to burn fat, eat fat?"
Avocado is that good fat recommended for good health, weight loss and fat loss.
Yes, this fatty fruit has earned the superstar status in the nutritional scene.
And indeed, avocados are incredibly nutritious.
Sadly many people miss on this important nutrient because of the high calorie count and fat content in avocado.
But rest assured; it's a good fat.
It contains heart healthy omega-3s, which have the ability to help improve digestion and the absorption rate of key vitamins and nutrients.
On top of it, avocados have an impressive nutritional profile:
In 1 whole avocado, there is 10-14 g of fiber or about 56% of the daily value of recommended fiber.
Because fiber plays a key role in weight loss, it's a good thing for those trying to reach a healthy weight.
Here is how fiber helps with weight loss.
Fiber provides bulk without adding any calories. Because fiber cannot be digested by your body, it just passes through your system, thus helps in the bathroom as well.
But of course, this is an oversimplified version of why, so for more in-depth explanation, visit my other fiber foods post. It talks more about it in details.
Long story short, upping your fiber intake with fruits like avocado is a great way to feel fuller and improve your digestion, which also helps preventing bloat.
For those looking to lose weight due to diabetes, high fiber foods take particular importance. They not only reduce cravings but also prevents a spike in blood glucose after meal, which leads to fewer carbohydrate cravings and reduced fat storage.
Avocado is also a rich source of healthy fat, 1 cup, sliced ( 146 gram of serving) avocado contains 21 grams of healthy fats.
According to the dietary guidelines 2010, good fats like the one found in avocado are those that can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.
Over 75% of the fats in avocado is unsaturated (the good kind— monounsaturated fat.)
Most women shy away from any source of fat when they begin a weight loss regimen, but the truth is, you need to consume healthy dietary fat in order to burn fat.
Remember "to burn fat, eat good fat!"
According to David Katz, MD, director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center, avocados help burn belly fat because of their high levels of mono-saturated fats."
These 'good' fats seek out and destroy 'bad fats', thus eliminating unsightly belly bulge.
Before wrapping up, here is another research that made avocado an evidently a weight loss food.
One study done by Nutritional Journal evidenced avocado's ability to suppress hunger.
In their study, participants who ate a half fresh avocado in their lunch reported a 40% decrease in their desire to eat for hours after their meal.
This also led to overall reduction in calorie intake.
3. Egg Whites
Egg whites are the ultimate fat burning food, providing a high level of 100% pure protein.
While many believe most of the egg protein comes from the yolk, this cannot be far from the truth.
Out of 6 grams of protein 1 whole egg provides, 4 grams of protein come from the egg white. That makes egg white the 67% of egg protein source.
Egg white has zero carbs and fat and only has 16 calories total.
It's a great source of protein with a very little calorie count.
Egg white from two eggs contain about 8 grams of protein and 18% of your daily recommended value (RDV) of riboflavin and selenium.
Additionally, eggs white is a good source of potassium, an essential mineral most Americans are deficient of. This makes egg white an excellent food choice for DASH diet, a diet that encourages a healthy balance between sodium and potassium.
Being a high protein source, egg white naturally provides satisfaction and suppresses appetite, which have been proven effective in reducing the overall daily caloric intake and aiding weight loss.
Dietary fat is very easy to process and has very little thermic effect, while protein is hard to process and has a much larger thermic effect.
4. Green Tea
Want to live a long life? Swap your coffee for green tea.
That's what I have been telling myself lately...
That's because green tea has an impressive health profile.
Japan has long been known for their residents longevity, and their long life has often been credited to their daily green tea drinking habits.
But that’s not certainly the only 'green tea benefits' we can appreciate.
Green tea has been known as a metabolism booster.
And often labeled as the world's healthiest drink on the planet.
Green tea is also an effective diet drink that increases fat burn.
If you’ve been around the weight loss scene for sometime, I bet you’ve heard green tea weight loss.
Although any weight loss drinks sound gimmicky, weight loss and fat loss 'benefits of green tea' are in fact scientifically proven and evidenced in many lab tests, academic studies, and research.
Here is how green tea helps with fat burn.
For fat to be burned, it first has to be broken down in the fat cell and released into the bloodstream.
The active ingredients found in green tea is found to aid this process by increasing the levels of hormones that tell fat cells to break down fat. The broken down fat is now released into the bloodstream and made available as energy.
Another content of green tea that makes this less processed tea healthier than others is potent antioxidants called catechin.
According to Abdul G. Dulloo, a researcher at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and lead author of the study published in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "green tea's high catechin content promotes fat oxidation and raises metabolic rate."
There are also countless other studies that show catechin in fact does a lot more.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University's study confirms catechin's benefit on cardiovascular health as it fights and may even prevent cell damage.
5. Whole Grains
With the rise in popularity of high protein and low carb diets such as Paleo and "Atkins diet", grains including whole grains have been made a dietary villain.
It's being blamed for anything from adding pounds, expanding waistline to developing diabetes.
Yes, carbs can be bad, if you choose the wrong kinds.
But eating the right kind of carbohydrates in moderation is in fact encouraged and supported by health and medical experts.
Harvard School of Public Health recommends eating carbohydrates from healthy foods than to follow a strict diet limiting or counting the number of grams of carbs consumed.
When it comes to carbohydrates, quality is that important.
According to Harvard's carbohydrate classifications, carbs can generally be divided into healthy and unhealthy carbs.
- The healthiest sources of carbohydrates—unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.
- Unhealthier sources of carbohydrates include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.
And it's the choice of carbohydrate source that can hugely impact your weight, not carbs entirely.
This is evident in a study from the Pennsylvania State University that divided 50 obese individuals into two groups. Both groups were instructed to cut calories for 12 weeks.
One of the group was told to consume only whole grains for their carbs, while the other group diet included refined-grains.
By the end of the study, both groups had lost weight, an average of 8 pounds among the whole-grain base diet group and 11 pounds in the refined-grain group.
Both group experienced a decreased in body fat, but the whole-grain group lost significantly more from the abdominal region that the refined-grain group.
At a glance, it may look as eating refined grains can lead to a greater weight loss, but the number on the scale doesn't tell the whole story.
The significance is in the loss of belly fat, the most dangerous type of fat (visceral fat) in the body.
Because this fat is located so close to the living organs, having excess of it has been linked to anything from type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, stroke and certain types of cancer.
If you find your mid section to be the problem area, it's critical that you take measures to reduce the belly fat.
Not just for the look of it but for your health.
And what the research can teach us is that a diet rich in whole grains can help fight the belly bulge and lose extra weight all while lowering the risk of heart disease.
So how mush whole grains should you eat?
The American Heart Association recommends 6 to 8 servings of grain foods a day from 3 or more whole grain sources.
Here are some examples of whole grains you should add to your diet:
- Whole wheat
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Whole-grain corn
- Brown rice
- Whole rye
- Whole-grain barley
- Wild rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Image credit: food52.com
You can't talk about good whole grain foods without talking about quinoa.
Quinoa is truly a super food loaded with minerals and vitamins, offering numerous health benefits.
To start, quinoa is very high in iron, which is essential for blood health, allowing the formation of hemoglobin, the carrier of oxygen in our bodies.
Iron also assists in the formation of myoglobin, which is an oxygen binding protein required for muscle contraction.
Quinoa is also high in fiber, packing in about 12 grams of fiber in every serving.
According to the UCSF Medical Center, adult needs about 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.
Which means, with one serving of quinoa, you are already half way there!
For those who need to manage blood sugar and lose weight, fiber is one nutrient you cannot miss.
Foods high in fiber are proven over and over again to reduce your risk of stroke and obesity.
According to Mayo Clinic, soluble fiber in particular can slow down the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels - a critical benefit for those with diabetes.
Another aid fiber can offer to diabetics is hunger suppression. It's said to reduce your daily calorie intake by roughly 10% or 240 calories based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD, also points out that high-fiber foods can help reduce calorie intake for up to 18 hours. To get the most of out fiber and its satiety benefit, start your day with a fiber loaded breakfast like quinoa salad.
Like green tea, kombucha is a popular health beverage that’s getting tons of praises in the health community.
To many, it may sound like a health community's latest drink creation, but it's actually as ancient as it can get.
It was originated in the far east around 2, 000 years ago.
But it wasn't till recent that kombucha because a popular hit in the U.S.., says Kathleen M.Zelman, MPH, RD, LD.
So what made kombucha a sensation? Its health benefits, of course.
As the ancient Chinese called this drink, the beverage of the "Immortal Health Elixir", modern frequent drinkers of the tonic claim it aids digestion, weight loss and detoxification, as well as it stimulates the immune system, prevents cancer, stops hair loss and improves liver function.
In short, kombucha seemingly aids in weight loss, fat burn and energy boost.
So what's different about this drink that brings tremendous health benefits?
According to Dr. Axe, this sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as a “SCOBY”, short for (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).
Kombucha is usually made with black tea, but it can also be made with green tea.
Some research showed evidence that kombucha improves metabolism and limits fat accumulation.
Although more studies are needed to confirm how much kombucha can boost metabolism and confirm these results, it does make sense that kombucha tea supports weight loss since it’s high in acetic acids (very similar to apple cider vinegar) and polyphenols, which are proven to help increase weight loss.
According to LiveStrong.com, people who have had success with Kombucha tea and weight loss recommend drinking for 4 to 8 ounces 30 minutes prior to your meals.
Drinking a glass upon waking up in the morning is sometimes recommended to help stimulate the metabolism and reset digestion system for the day.
8. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains an unique combination of fatty acids with powerful effects on metabolism function.
Many scientific studies suggest adding coconut oil to your diet helps with fat loss, particularly around your belly where it accumulates visceral fat, the dangerous belly fat.
One study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that coconut oil helps reduce body fat and waist circumference in females with high triglyceride levels. This is due to the high levels of medium chain fatty acids present in coconuts work to increase the levels of 'good fats' and decrease the levels of 'bad fats' stored in the body.
Other major benefits of coconut oil is weight loss, and you’re probably wondering how fat can help you burn fat.
Here’s how it works...
Coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides, fatty acids that know to boost metabolism.
The fatty acids in found in coconut oil (called medium-chain triacylglycerols, or MCT) are short and more water-soluble than those found in other vegetable oils such as olive oil or canola.
They route more directly to the liver, where they’re readily burned for fuel.
According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition in March 2002, MCFAs are oxidized in the liver, and therefore they have less opportunity to be deposit in fat stores. MCFAs increase energy expenditure and increase fat burning.
9. Raspberry ketones
What is Raspberry ketone?
Raspberry ketone is the natural phenolic compound found in red raspberries and other super fruits like blackberries, kiwis, and cranberries (Rubus idaeus).
In the most simplest terms, it is a chemical compound that gives berries their signature scent.
Not until recently, raspberry ketones were used primarily by the perfume and food manufacturing industries, but today the compound is being sold in a supplement form with a claim that it'd aid weight loss and fat burn.
Many speculators are claiming that keytones found in berries particularly raspberries can help your body break down fat more efficiently, give your metabolism a boost and help you lose weight.
The natural amount of raspberry keytone found in berries is very low, is not enough to cause weight loss— in order to raise the potency, you may need take additional weight loss drugs or supplement that contain a much high level of raspberry ketone.
Although before you do, you should know that raspberry keytones have never been tested on any actual humans in scientific studies.
The results showed less fat on the rat.
Another rat study, the rodents were fed a high fat diet with differing amounts of raspberry ketones. The rat received more raspberry keytones burned more body fat and gained less fat tissue.
A third study found that exposed fat cells in a test tube to raspberry keytones and found the raspberry keytones stimulated the breakdown of fat cells.
This research found the amount of keytones found in raspberries is not substantial enough to have an effect on metabolism and cause weight loss.
More reliable research is still pending on the use of raspberry ketone for any health condition in humans whether or not the natural raspberry ketone found in the high antioxidants fruits berries can boost metabolism and help with the breakdown of fat.
Further high-quality research is needed, said Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which reviews evidence on herbs and supplements.
While different "weight loss programs" encourage varying foods and macronutrient proportions.
One food in particular that most weight loss diets seem to agree on is fish— Needles to say, fish is of the healthiest thing you can eat.
Although not everyone likes it, fish is a great weight loss food
For one, it's fairly low in calories, making an obvious choice for any calorie-restricted weight loss program.
It's also a fat loss food because it's love in total fat and saturated fat.
Most fish and shellfish generally contains less than 5% fat, and even fatty fish fat content is around 15%, which is similar to meat.
The only concern fish has been drawing lately is its mercury content.
fda.org urges populations below to be most vulnerable to mercury, thus advises to avoid certain types of fish high in mercury.
- Women Who Might Become Pregnant
- Women Who are Pregnant
- Nursing Mothers
- Young Children
In particular shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish contain high levels of mercury, thus they should be avoided. Seafood choices such as salmon, canned light tuna, shrimp, and pollock are amongst safer choices.
There you have it!
I know many healthy foods with exotic names have been taking the spotlight as the best thing to eat for good health.
But everyday foods like fish, berries (blueberries, strawberries, and cherries) shouldn't be forgotten. They are packed with powerful nutritents that are vital to your body.
Which of these foods are you going to add to your diet immedially? Leave me a comment below to let me know.