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Juniper Journal

9 metabolism-boosting foods to add to your plate

Adding foods to your plate can make your metabolism more efficient.

9 metabolism-boosting foods to add to your plate
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Ever wonder why some people seem to lose weight effortlessly, while for others it can feel like pushing a boulder uphill?

If you’re in the latter category, it can feel frustrating, disappointing, and, frankly, a little unfair. That’s especially true if you’ve tried lots of different weight loss methods and those stubborn kilos still won’t seem to budge.

While there are many different factors that can affect your ability to lose weight, there’s one that stands out above all others: your metabolism.

This is like your inner furnace that, when well-tuned, can more efficiently turn your food into an energy source (rather than fat cells). The good news is, your metabolism isn’t set in stone. There are practical things you can do to make your metabolism more efficient and turn it into your biggest weight loss ally.

The best part is, speeding up your metabolism can be as simple as adding more foods to your plate. Read on for 9 metabolism-boosting foods that will help you burn more calories without even trying. 

What is metabolism?

The term ‘metabolism’ refers to the complex chemical process occurring inside our bodies at all times. It’s where the nutrients and calories inside the food and drinks we consume and converted into energy, to support our everyday functioning [1].

We are continuously burning energy — even when we’re asleep! However, we all do so at different rates, and this is where the idea of having a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolism comes in. There are many factors that affect our metabolic rates, such as age, hormones, muscle mass, and lifestyle.

How does metabolism work?

There are 2 chemical processes that make up your metabolism: catabolism and anabolism [2].

Catabolism is when complex compounds (such as glucose) from your food and drink are broken down into simpler ones, to produce energy. This happens when you are digesting your food.

Anabolism is when those smaller units are bonded together into structures that can be used for bodily processes, such as growing and repairing cells in the body.

Essentially, your catabolism and anabolism work together to capture and release energy sources in the body. If you consume more food than your body can use as energy in a day, the excess is stored as fat.

Can certain foods boost the metabolism?

There are certain things you can do to rev your metabolic engine and eating specific foods is one of them. Whenever you eat, it temporarily increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

This is because of the thermic effect of food (TEF): the calories expended when you consume, digest and metabolise food.

Different macronutrients have varying thermic effects, which means your body has to work harder to process them [3]. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Fat provides 9 calories per gram and has a TEF of 0-3%
  • Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram and have a TEF of 5-10%
  • Protein provides 4 calories per gram and has a TEF of 20-30%

It’s important to note that the impact of specific foods on your metabolism is fairly minimal. It’s estimated that TEF only makes up around 10% of the average intake of a healthy adult [4].

However, you can still use the foods you eat to your advantage — and the good news is, there are other practical things you can do to boost your metabolism, too.

What else can positively impact the metabolism for weight loss?

Some factors that impact your metabolic health include:

Exercise

It’s no secret that exercise can help you burn off surplus calories, to prevent them from being stored as fat. But did you know that movement can supercharge your metabolism long after you finish your workout?

Research shows that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) can boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours afterwards [5]. However, even if vigorous exercise is off the table, any type of movement will work in your favour here.

Temperature

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to go for a dip on a scorching summer’s day, you just found it. Research shows that reducing your body temperature can increase energy expenditure by up to 15% [6].

This happens for 2 reasons. Firstly, the act of shivering when you’re cold puts the body into a fat-burning state called thermogenesis.

Secondly, cold exposure can activate brown fat, which breaks down blood sugar (glucose) to help keep the body warm. If you’re particularly brave, you could also try a cold shower or an ice bath.

Weight loss medication

Sometimes, you can do all the right things, but the weight on the scales won't change. That's because so much of your weight is determined by genetics [7].

For women with biological weight influences, exercising and diets won't always lead to weight loss. Juniper's Weight Loss Reset program takes a different approach, by resetting your metabolism for long-term weight loss.

Our clinically proven weight loss medication, when combined with lifestyle habit changes, has been found to reset metabolic patterns to help average patients lose approximately 7% of their body weight in 1 year. [8]

The combination of breakthrough medication, lifestyle coaching and health tracking sets you up for long-term weight loss success.

9 metabolism-boosting foods

Here are the best foods to add to your diet, to give your metabolism a boost.

Coffee

It's no secret that your morning brew can be a lifesaver on those days when you’re short on sleep. But, did you know it can also boost your metabolism?

Research shows that caffeine can increase your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) by 3–4% [9]. This is because it stimulates the nervous system, and sends messages to the fat cells to burn fat. This results in you burning more energy for roughly an hour after consumption.

Studies also show that drinking coffee can stimulate brown fat cells, just like cold exposure (they’ll both wake you up, too!) [10]. Just be mindful that milk, sugar and flavoured syrups in cafe-bought coffee can add extra calories, which can outweigh some of the benefits.

Chilli

Chilli can add an extra kick to your metabolism, as well as to your cooking! Studies show that capsaicin, the compound that makes red chilli peppers spicy, can raise your metabolic resting rate [11].

Not only that but it’s been found to curb appetite and suppress fat tissue growth. Not a fan of spicy foods? No problem — milder spices like cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and turmeric have a similar effect.

Tea

Need another reason to take your afternoon tea break? Studies show that drinking green tea can burn between an extra 70-100 calories per day [12]. 

Green tea contains antioxidant compounds called catechins (ECGC and polyphenols), which have been found to burn fat more efficiently.

Combine this with the energy-burning properties of the caffeine in tea and you’ve got yourself one metabolism powerhouse. Other types of teas that boost your metabolism include Oolong, Pu-erh and white tea. To reap maximum benefits, try brewing it yourself at home using tea leaves. 

Protein-rich foods

Eating high-protein foods is excellent for weight loss, for a number of reasons. Firstly, protein sources are the building blocks of strength, and eating enough of it can help you build lean muscle.

Plus, protein has the highest thermogenic rate of any macronutrient. A high intake of protein has been found to spike the metabolism, and increase daily energy expenditure by 80-100 calories [13].

Some great animal-based, high-protein foods include meat, white meat chicken, eggs, and dairy. Alternatively, plant foods that are high in protein include nuts, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa.

Meal replacement shakes, like Juniper's Weight Loss Nourish Shakes, which contain 29.4g of high-quality protein, are another great way to get in metabolism-boosting goodness when you’re on the go.

Ginger

Not only is ginger a versatile ingredient in cooking, but it’s also helpful for metabolic health.  The flowering plant includes compounds called zingerone and shogaols, which have been found to be beneficial for weight loss.

These antioxidants have been found to help control appetite, manage blood sugar, and increase the thermogenic effect [14].

One 2018 study assessed the existing research on the impact of weight loss [15]. It found that ginger intake reduced the participants’ body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and other markets such as blood glucose metabolism. To use ginger for weight loss, you can enjoy it in tea or powdered form, or add it to your meals or drinks.

Water

Yes, good old-fashioned water can give you a metabolism boost! Many peer-reviewed studies suggest that drinking water can have a thermogenic effect.

In a 2013 study, drinking 500 ml of water was found to increase the metabolic rate by 30% in both men and women [16].

It's believed that this effect occurs because the body has to expend energy converting the water to body temperature. Not only that, drinking plenty of water can keep you full for longer, making it an incredibly important part of any weight loss regime.

Beans and legumes

Turns out, beans are the ‘magical fruit’ for more reasons than one! Beans such as kidney beans and black beans are high in protein, which means you reap the benefits of thermogenesis.

The same applies to other legumes, such as soybeans, chickpeas, and peanuts. Plus, beans and legumes tend to have a low-glycemic index (low GI), meaning the body digests them more slowly [17].

This can keep you full for longer, and keep blood sugar spikes at bay. All in all, beans and legumes form an important part of a balanced diet for weight loss.

Seaweed

It might be one of the more polarising entries on this list when it comes to taste. However, seaweed is a high-achiever when it comes to metabolic health. It's an excellent source of iodine, which is essential for the functioning of a healthy metabolism [18].

The nutrient-rich food is also high in the minerals thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which are important for processing carbohydrates [19]. If you can't stomach the idea of eating it raw, consider dried seafood snacks.

Dark chocolate

Great news for chocolate lovers! Dark chocolate can actually be a powerful metabolism booster.

Cacao is packed with monounsaturated fats (MUFA), which help boost the metabolic rate. Plus, research shows that eating dark chocolate can improve gut health, promotes satiety, and even reduces stress [20]. All helpful things when you're trying to lose weight!

Of course, not all chocolates are created equal. It's best to opt for dark chocolate over 99% cacao. Not only does it have fewer calories and sugar, but it's also loaded with healthy antioxidants.

While eating metabolism-boosting foods isn't a silver bullet for weight loss, they can certainly be helpful if you're in a weight loss plateau. Need something more effective? Take Juniper's quiz to see how our program can help you find and maintain your healthy weight for life.

Image credit: Getty Images

Ever wonder why some people seem to lose weight effortlessly, while for others it can feel like pushing a boulder uphill?

If you’re in the latter category, it can feel frustrating, disappointing, and, frankly, a little unfair. That’s especially true if you’ve tried lots of different weight loss methods and those stubborn kilos still won’t seem to budge.

While there are many different factors that can affect your ability to lose weight, there’s one that stands out above all others: your metabolism.

This is like your inner furnace that, when well-tuned, can more efficiently turn your food into an energy source (rather than fat cells). The good news is, your metabolism isn’t set in stone. There are practical things you can do to make your metabolism more efficient and turn it into your biggest weight loss ally.

The best part is, speeding up your metabolism can be as simple as adding more foods to your plate. Read on for 9 metabolism-boosting foods that will help you burn more calories without even trying. 

What is metabolism?

The term ‘metabolism’ refers to the complex chemical process occurring inside our bodies at all times. It’s where the nutrients and calories inside the food and drinks we consume and converted into energy, to support our everyday functioning [1].

We are continuously burning energy — even when we’re asleep! However, we all do so at different rates, and this is where the idea of having a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolism comes in. There are many factors that affect our metabolic rates, such as age, hormones, muscle mass, and lifestyle.

How does metabolism work?

There are 2 chemical processes that make up your metabolism: catabolism and anabolism [2].

Catabolism is when complex compounds (such as glucose) from your food and drink are broken down into simpler ones, to produce energy. This happens when you are digesting your food.

Anabolism is when those smaller units are bonded together into structures that can be used for bodily processes, such as growing and repairing cells in the body.

Essentially, your catabolism and anabolism work together to capture and release energy sources in the body. If you consume more food than your body can use as energy in a day, the excess is stored as fat.

Can certain foods boost the metabolism?

There are certain things you can do to rev your metabolic engine and eating specific foods is one of them. Whenever you eat, it temporarily increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

This is because of the thermic effect of food (TEF): the calories expended when you consume, digest and metabolise food.

Different macronutrients have varying thermic effects, which means your body has to work harder to process them [3]. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Fat provides 9 calories per gram and has a TEF of 0-3%
  • Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram and have a TEF of 5-10%
  • Protein provides 4 calories per gram and has a TEF of 20-30%

It’s important to note that the impact of specific foods on your metabolism is fairly minimal. It’s estimated that TEF only makes up around 10% of the average intake of a healthy adult [4].

However, you can still use the foods you eat to your advantage — and the good news is, there are other practical things you can do to boost your metabolism, too.

What else can positively impact the metabolism for weight loss?

Some factors that impact your metabolic health include:

Exercise

It’s no secret that exercise can help you burn off surplus calories, to prevent them from being stored as fat. But did you know that movement can supercharge your metabolism long after you finish your workout?

Research shows that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) can boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours afterwards [5]. However, even if vigorous exercise is off the table, any type of movement will work in your favour here.

Temperature

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to go for a dip on a scorching summer’s day, you just found it. Research shows that reducing your body temperature can increase energy expenditure by up to 15% [6].

This happens for 2 reasons. Firstly, the act of shivering when you’re cold puts the body into a fat-burning state called thermogenesis.

Secondly, cold exposure can activate brown fat, which breaks down blood sugar (glucose) to help keep the body warm. If you’re particularly brave, you could also try a cold shower or an ice bath.

Weight loss medication

Sometimes, you can do all the right things, but the weight on the scales won't change. That's because so much of your weight is determined by genetics [7].

For women with biological weight influences, exercising and diets won't always lead to weight loss. Juniper's Weight Loss Reset program takes a different approach, by resetting your metabolism for long-term weight loss.

Our clinically proven weight loss medication, when combined with lifestyle habit changes, has been found to reset metabolic patterns to help average patients lose approximately 7% of their body weight in 1 year. [8]

The combination of breakthrough medication, lifestyle coaching and health tracking sets you up for long-term weight loss success.

9 metabolism-boosting foods

Here are the best foods to add to your diet, to give your metabolism a boost.

Coffee

It's no secret that your morning brew can be a lifesaver on those days when you’re short on sleep. But, did you know it can also boost your metabolism?

Research shows that caffeine can increase your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) by 3–4% [9]. This is because it stimulates the nervous system, and sends messages to the fat cells to burn fat. This results in you burning more energy for roughly an hour after consumption.

Studies also show that drinking coffee can stimulate brown fat cells, just like cold exposure (they’ll both wake you up, too!) [10]. Just be mindful that milk, sugar and flavoured syrups in cafe-bought coffee can add extra calories, which can outweigh some of the benefits.

Chilli

Chilli can add an extra kick to your metabolism, as well as to your cooking! Studies show that capsaicin, the compound that makes red chilli peppers spicy, can raise your metabolic resting rate [11].

Not only that but it’s been found to curb appetite and suppress fat tissue growth. Not a fan of spicy foods? No problem — milder spices like cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and turmeric have a similar effect.

Tea

Need another reason to take your afternoon tea break? Studies show that drinking green tea can burn between an extra 70-100 calories per day [12]. 

Green tea contains antioxidant compounds called catechins (ECGC and polyphenols), which have been found to burn fat more efficiently.

Combine this with the energy-burning properties of the caffeine in tea and you’ve got yourself one metabolism powerhouse. Other types of teas that boost your metabolism include Oolong, Pu-erh and white tea. To reap maximum benefits, try brewing it yourself at home using tea leaves. 

Protein-rich foods

Eating high-protein foods is excellent for weight loss, for a number of reasons. Firstly, protein sources are the building blocks of strength, and eating enough of it can help you build lean muscle.

Plus, protein has the highest thermogenic rate of any macronutrient. A high intake of protein has been found to spike the metabolism, and increase daily energy expenditure by 80-100 calories [13].

Some great animal-based, high-protein foods include meat, white meat chicken, eggs, and dairy. Alternatively, plant foods that are high in protein include nuts, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa.

Meal replacement shakes, like Juniper's Weight Loss Nourish Shakes, which contain 29.4g of high-quality protein, are another great way to get in metabolism-boosting goodness when you’re on the go.

Ginger

Not only is ginger a versatile ingredient in cooking, but it’s also helpful for metabolic health.  The flowering plant includes compounds called zingerone and shogaols, which have been found to be beneficial for weight loss.

These antioxidants have been found to help control appetite, manage blood sugar, and increase the thermogenic effect [14].

One 2018 study assessed the existing research on the impact of weight loss [15]. It found that ginger intake reduced the participants’ body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and other markets such as blood glucose metabolism. To use ginger for weight loss, you can enjoy it in tea or powdered form, or add it to your meals or drinks.

Water

Yes, good old-fashioned water can give you a metabolism boost! Many peer-reviewed studies suggest that drinking water can have a thermogenic effect.

In a 2013 study, drinking 500 ml of water was found to increase the metabolic rate by 30% in both men and women [16].

It's believed that this effect occurs because the body has to expend energy converting the water to body temperature. Not only that, drinking plenty of water can keep you full for longer, making it an incredibly important part of any weight loss regime.

Beans and legumes

Turns out, beans are the ‘magical fruit’ for more reasons than one! Beans such as kidney beans and black beans are high in protein, which means you reap the benefits of thermogenesis.

The same applies to other legumes, such as soybeans, chickpeas, and peanuts. Plus, beans and legumes tend to have a low-glycemic index (low GI), meaning the body digests them more slowly [17].

This can keep you full for longer, and keep blood sugar spikes at bay. All in all, beans and legumes form an important part of a balanced diet for weight loss.

Seaweed

It might be one of the more polarising entries on this list when it comes to taste. However, seaweed is a high-achiever when it comes to metabolic health. It's an excellent source of iodine, which is essential for the functioning of a healthy metabolism [18].

The nutrient-rich food is also high in the minerals thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which are important for processing carbohydrates [19]. If you can't stomach the idea of eating it raw, consider dried seafood snacks.

Dark chocolate

Great news for chocolate lovers! Dark chocolate can actually be a powerful metabolism booster.

Cacao is packed with monounsaturated fats (MUFA), which help boost the metabolic rate. Plus, research shows that eating dark chocolate can improve gut health, promotes satiety, and even reduces stress [20]. All helpful things when you're trying to lose weight!

Of course, not all chocolates are created equal. It's best to opt for dark chocolate over 99% cacao. Not only does it have fewer calories and sugar, but it's also loaded with healthy antioxidants.

While eating metabolism-boosting foods isn't a silver bullet for weight loss, they can certainly be helpful if you're in a weight loss plateau. Need something more effective? Take Juniper's quiz to see how our program can help you find and maintain your healthy weight for life.

Image credit: Getty Images

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