Whenever “metabolism” is mentioned, it feels mystical — like the fountain of youth or a cupcake with no calories. It seems like all you have to do is rev that metabolism a little and you’ll be running 5-minute miles and burning calories like it’s your job and finally be able to apply the perfect liquid liner… well, almost all of those anyway. But what does your metabolism actually do? And how can you properly harness all its kickass health power?
The term “metabolism” actually refers to all the chemicals involved in maintaining the health of the cells. The nutrients we eat supply energy and necessary chemicals for this function, which is why it affects how many calories our body burns. So while it sounds like a fad-y health craze, focusing on our metabolic health is actually important. Here are some foods that will help your metabolism function properly and burn extra calories in the process:
1. Protein with Healthy Fats
Getting enough protein is crucial for the function of your metabolism, but simply ingesting protein isn’t enough. Protein and healthy fats are so important because if your body does not get enough, or an improper balance, it will break down lean body tissues and convert them to body fat. Try choosing a combo snack like SunButter, which packs a huge protein punch and contains micronutrients like magnesium, Vitamin E, zinc, and iron, and contains less saturated fats than other options, which means more of the good kind of fat. It’s also free of the top food allergens, which means people with peanut or tree nut allergies can enjoy it too. Grab SunButter at your local grocery chain or specialty food store and pair it with fruits and veggies or incorporate it into your baking.
2. Green Tea
While coffee also revs the metabolism with that caffeine we all know and love, green teas do it more efficiently and have more benefits in general. Green teas (like gunpowder, jasmine, and matcha) contain epigallocatechin, which is what stimulates the nervous system without elevating the heart rate (meaning no post-coffee jitters!). Three cups a day is said to burn up to 80 calories — now that’s a workout I can get behind! Try swapping a matcha latte for your usual latte at Starbucks, or try it in your baking.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains like rolled oats, brown rice, or buckwheat burn more body fat because they take more work for your body to break down than processed grains like white flour. They are also rich in fiber, which means they help your gut to digest better. Opt for brown rice pasta, or at least whole wheat, instead of the usual white, and try baking with oat flour instead of the white stuff.
4. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits that are especially tangy, like grapefruit or lemon, contain antioxidants that help your body to use insulin more efficiently, which means stabilizing blood sugar and increasing calorie burn. Try slicing up a grapefruit to add to your salad for a zesty and refreshing change to the same old lettuce.
5. Hot Peppers
Cayenne Pepper on your avocado toast and jalapeños on your nachos might be flavorful and spicy toppings, but they also have serious benefits for your metabolism. A chemical called capsaicin can rev up your metabolism by up to 25% for three hours after you’ve eaten. Try adding jalapeños or chipotles to egg dishes and soups for a spicy kick, and sprinkle cayenne pepper in everything from salad dressings to chocolate cake.
Do you focus on the health of your metabolism? Which of these foods would you try?
This post was in partnership with SunButter, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.