Metabolism boosting foods… But fun!
A quick Google search for metabolism boosting foods brings up a whole host of lists and how tos – and they all say pretty much the same thing.
We all know we need to munch on more mixed nuts, washed down with green tea and gallons of water, but what about more exciting ways to get these into our diets?
This post contains all-you-need-to-know about your metabolism, plus seven and a half tasty metabolism-boosting snacks that’ll make it soar. A fun twist on the healthy stuff – these treats will make your tastebuds sing and give whoever’s eyeing your lunchbox total snack-envy.
So, let’s get started!
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – what’s it all about?
Believe it or not, your body’s metabolism isn’t just about burning fat. The actual term ‘metabolism’ describes all the chemical processes that occur inside your body to keep you alive – including keeping all of your vital organs functioning normally, such as breathing, repairing cells and digesting food.
Each of these chemical processes requires energy to be efficient – that’s you fuelling your body with food. The minimum amount of energy your body requires to carry out these chemical processes is called your basal metabolic rate, known in the medical business as BMR.
Generally, a person’s BMR accounts for anything between 40% and 70% of the body’s daily energy requirements. This is largely dependent on age and lifestyle.
What determines your BMR? Is a ‘slow metabolism’ a thing?
As well as age and lifestyle, body size, gender and genes all play a role in determining your metabolic rate. A ‘slow metabolism’ is more accurately described as a low BMR. So who’s most likely to be slacking in the BMR department?
It’s true that people with a higher muscle-to-fat ratio tend to have a higher BMR. This is because muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells – and as we get older, we tend to gain fat and lose muscle.
This explains why BMR tends to drop with age, and why it’s harder to lose weight during our later years!
Unfortunately ladies, men tend to have a fast metabolism – they have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat than women. This is why the recommended daily calorie allowance is higher for guys than it is girls!
Genetics also plays a part, although scientists say that exactly how isn’t yet fully understood. Genes however do definitely play a role in muscle size and the ease with which you can grow your muscles, and both of these affect metabolism.
So what can we do for a BMR boost?
It’s claimed that certain foods and drinks can boost your metabolism. The list is as long as your arm – and the most common contenders are green tea, coffee, spices, chilli and energy drinks.
Often, the added milk and artificial sugars associated with these foods will do more harm than good (and nobody wants a spoonful of chilli powder in the morning!) so we’d be wary.
But, the good news is that you’ll also find nuts, berries, fish and leafy green veg make appearances on most online lists of metabolism boosting foods, so we’re pretty buzzing. Without further ado, here are seven and a half tasty ways to incorporate these into your diet… With a twist!
7. AlmondsFancy making your own nut butter? Not as gross as it sounds!
Since almonds are protein-rich foods, they can cause your body to burn more calories after you eat them. Although they don’t directly speed up your metabolism, they contain magnesium; a mineral that’s crucial to powering it. The fibre in almonds, as well as the unique texture, also promote satiety (that lovely feeling of fullness).
But not many people get excited over a handful of almonds, which is fair enough really. If you’re not exactly nuts for nuts, dump a few in a blender and give them a whizz. After a few minutes, scrape down the sides and start again. Be patient – in 5-10 minutes you’ll have a lovely smooth almond butter ready to be spread onto wholemeal toast. Tasty!
Perfectly wrapped in prosciutto. Smelly pee is a small price to pay for a super-fast metabolism!
Asparagus is a herbaceous plant known for its medicinal values and disease-fighting abilities. For a food that’s packed with health benefits, look no further – this veggie is the perfect powerhouse of all nutrients. It’s high in fibre, folate and Vitamins A, B, CE and K. It’s the Vitamin B that feeds your BMR. So woopee!
For a fun take on this green snack food, roll each stem in prosciutto and griddle until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and voila! A healthy take on pigs-in-blankets that’ll see your metabolism soar. WARNING: Asparagus does make your pee smell – it contains a sulphurous compound called mercaptan which, when broken down by our bodies, stinks. Sorry in advance.
5. CucumberStacked with tomato and drizzled with balsamic. The best metabolism boosting sandwich you’ll ever eat!
Not just for moisturising eyeballs and banishing dark circles, the humble cucumber is great for a metabolism boost.
Cucumbers are high in sulphur and silicon, two trace minerals that are fabulous for fat burning. The seeds in these little babies also contain stimulant properties which, similar to chilli seeds, can boost metabolic rates.
And stacking? So totally in right now. Slice your cuc and stack with sliced (or sundried!) tomato and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of parmesan. Like a little kick? Dust with a little chilli for a cooling, metabolism-boosting combination.
Raw, in a bag, sprinkled with paprika. Worlds better than crisps!
Spinach is great if you’re looking to spike your metabolism. In fact, so are all other leafy greens, thanks to their high fibre content. Organic, dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale provide iron to support healthy blood, which is key to optimal cellular metabolism energy. Science also says that spinach is full of muscle-building protein. Yay!
If you’re not a fan of the soggy, cooked kind, munch your spinach raw. Uncooked, spinach makes a great alternative to crisps – pop some in a bag, add paprika or a little bit of salt and simply shake.
Dunked in cashew butter and dotted with raisins. Lovingly known as Ants on a log! Cute!
You might have heard the urban legend that celery is a “negative-calorie” food, and while we’re not sure we’re on board with that per se, it’s certainly very low calorie food that can be a big-time metabolism booster. When you chew on celery, you’re stimulating digestion, adding water to hydrate - a key to a better metabolism.
Now, if you haven’t heard of ants on a log, ask your nan. It was a big party food in the 1950s, back when everyone loved spam fritters and evaporated milk. Fortunately, not much of that is trendy anymore, but this one deserves a comeback.
Spread your celery with a slick of peanut butter (or almond, if you’ve got any leftover) and dot with raisins. Not afraid of fire ants? Use cranberries or goji berries for a beautifully colourful twist!
2. Greek Yoghurt and (Here’s the Half) Chia Seeds
Frozen buttons so creamy they’d make the Milky Bar Kid jealous.
Calcium and protein are crucial to powering your metabolism – and Greek yoghurt is packed with both. It keeps your energy levels high, helps you build lean muscle mass and regulates your digestive tract. Win, win and win!
For an even better boost, add chia seeds. These a loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids (good fats!), fibre, and yes, you guessed it, protein. You’ll also get a good dose of glucagon, one of the body’s fat-burning hormones. Yeah, buddy!
If you’re into your healthy eating, this one doesn’t need much sprucing up – but if you’re looking for something a little special, read on for more. Mix up your yogurt and seeds and add your own flavour (honey, date nectar, fruit compote) then pipe into button shapes on a baking tray. Then, freeze!
1. Green tea
Add mint, freeze, bam! Green tea ice lollies, perfect for summer.
It’s safe to say, green tea is the Holy Grail of metabolism-boosting foods. According to (more) Science, three to five cups a day can help you burn an extra 70 calories – in fact, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea extract increased the metabolism by 4% over a 24-hour period. This is due to the antioxidants called catechins (ECGC and polyphenols) in the tea. And if it’s good enough for ‘em, it’s good enough for us!
But actually, a whole bunch of people don’t really like the taste of real green tea (put down the Tetley!) which is totally fine. It’s kind of seaweed-y. If you’re in that camp (and we don’t blame you) we’ve got the answer. Simply brew the tea, add mint and freeze into lolly moulds. A simple summer treat that’ll kick start your metabolism and help get you bikini-body ready!We’ve got loads of delicious recipes that incorporate all these foods and more in our Bootea Eating Plan. Check it out here.