The 12 Best Foods to Boost Your Metabolism
Certain foods can increase your metabolism.
The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to maintain your weight or get rid of unwanted body fat.
Here are 12 foods that rev up your metabolism, which may help you lose weight.
Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds, could help increase your metabolism for a few hours.
They do so by requiring your body to use more energy to digest them.
This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF refers to the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meals.
Research shows that protein-rich foods increase TEF the most. For example, they increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats (1Trusted Source).
Protein-rich diets also reduce the drop in metabolism often seen during weight loss by helping your body hold on to its muscle mass (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Protein-rich foods can help boost your metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent you from overeating.
Iron, zinc and selenium each play different but equally important roles in the proper function of your body.
However, they do have one thing in common: all three are required for the proper function of your thyroid gland, which regulates your metabolism (12Trusted Source).
Research shows that a diet too low in iron, zinc or selenium may reduce the ability of your thyroid gland to produce sufficient amounts of hormones. This can slow down your metabolism (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
To help your thyroid function to the best of its ability, include zinc, selenium and iron-rich foods like meat, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds in your daily menu.
BOTTOM LINE: Foods rich in iron, zinc and selenium promote the proper function of your thyroid, which helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
Capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, may boost your metabolism by increasing the number of calories and fat you burn.
In fact, a review of 20 research studies reports that capsaicin can help your body burn around 50 extra calories per day (16Trusted Source).
This effect was initially observed after taking 135–150 mg of capsaicin per day, but some studies report similar benefits with doses as low as 9–10 mg per day (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Moreover, capsaicin may have appetite-reducing properties.
According to a recent study, consuming 2 mg of capsaicin directly before each meal seems to reduce the number of calories consumed, especially from carbs (21Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Capsaicin, a compound found in chilLi peppers, may help slightly increase metabolism and fat oxidation.
In fact, six different studies found that people who consume at least 270 mg of caffeine daily, or the equivalent of about three cups of coffee, burn an extra 100 calories per day (26Trusted Source).
Furthermore, caffeine may also help your body burn fat for energy and seems especially effective at boosting your workout performance (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: The caffeine found in coffee may help boost the amount of calories and fat your body burns. However, its effects may vary by individual.
According to research, the combination of caffeine and catechins that’s found in tea may work to boost your metabolism.
In particular, both oolong and green tea may increase metabolism by 4–10%. This could add up to burning an extra 100 calories per day (26Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
In addition, oolong and green teas may help your body use stored fat for energy more effectively, increasing your fat-burning ability by up to 17% (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, as is the case with coffee, effects may vary from person to person.
BOTTOM LINE: The combination of caffeine and catechins found in tea may help your body burn slightly more calories and fat each day.
Legumes and pulses, such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and peanuts, are particularly high in protein compared to other plant foods.
Legumes also contain a good amount of dietary fiber, such as resistant starch and soluble fiber, which your body can use to feed the good bacteria living in your intestines (42, 43Trusted Source, 44).
In one study, humans consuming a legume-rich diet for eight weeks experienced beneficial changes in metabolism and lost 1.5 times more weight than the control group (48Trusted Source).
Legumes are also high in arginine, an amino acid that may increase the amount of carbs and fat your body can burn for energy (49Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Legumes and pulses are high in protein, fibRE and certain amino acids, which are thought to have metabolism-boosting properties.
Certain spices are thought to have particularly beneficial metabolism-boosting properties.
For instance, research shows that dissolving 2 grams of ginger powder in hot water and drinking it with a meal may help you burn up to 43 more calories than drinking hot water alone (52Trusted Source).
This hot ginger drink also seems to decrease levels of hunger and enhance feelings of satiety (53Trusted Source).
Grains of paradise, another spice in the ginger family, may have similar effects.
A recent study reported that participants given a 40-mg extract of grains of paradise burned 43 more calories in the following two hours than those given a placebo (54Trusted Source).
That said, researchers also noted that part of the participants were non-responders, so the effects may vary from one person to another.
Similarly, adding cayenne pepper to your meal may increase the amount of fat your body burns for energy, especially following a high-fat meal (55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source). However, this fat-burning effect may only apply to people unaccustomed to consuming spicy foods (56Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Ginger, grains of paradise and cayenne pepper may help your body burn more calories or fat. However, effects can vary from one individual to another.
Cacao and cocoa are tasty treats that may also benefit your metabolism.
For instance, studies in mice found that cocoa and cocoa extracts may promote the expression of genes that stimulate the use of fat for energy. This seems especially true in mice fed high-fat or high-calorie diets (57Trusted Source, 58, 59Trusted Source).
Interestingly, one study suggests that cocoa may prevent the action of enzymes necessary to break down fat and carbs during digestion (60Trusted Source).
In doing so, cocoa could theoretically play a role in preventing weight gain by reducing the absorption of some calories (60Trusted Source).
However, human studies examining the effects of cocoa, cacao or cacao products such as dark chocolate are rare. More studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made (61Trusted Source).
If you’d like to give cacao a try, opt for raw versions, as processing tends to reduce the amounts of beneficial compounds (62Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Cacao may have certain metabolism-boosting properties, especially for those consuming high-calorie, high-fat diets.
Apple cider vinegar may increase your metabolism.
Several animal studies have shown vinegar to be particularly helpful in increasing the amount of fat burned for energy.
In one study, mice given vinegar experienced an increase in the AMPK enzyme, which prompts the body to decrease fat storage and increase fat burning (63Trusted Source).
Apple cider vinegar is often claimed to boost metabolism in humans, but few studies have investigated the matter directly.
Nevertheless, apple cider vinegar may still help you lose weight in other ways, such as slowing stomach emptying and enhancing feelings of fullness (66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source, 68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source).
One study in humans even showed that participants given four teaspoons (20 ml) of apple cider vinegar ate up to 275 fewer calories over the rest of the day (70Trusted Source).
If you’d like to give apple cider vinegar a try, be careful to limit your daily consumption to two tablespoons (30 ml).
BOTTOM LINE: More studies are needed to confirm apple cider vinegar’s metabolism-boosting properties in humans. That being said, it may aid weight loss in other ways.
Coconut oil is experiencing a surge in popularity.
That may be partly because coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This is contrary to most other types of fats, which usually contain higher amounts of long-chain fatty acids.
Unlike long-chain fats, once MCTs are absorbed, they go directly to the liver to be turned into energy. This makes them less likely to be stored as fat.
Interestingly, several studies show that MCTs can increase metabolic rate more than longer-chain fats (71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source, 73Trusted Source, 74Trusted Source, 75Trusted Source, 76Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Replacing other fats with a small amount of coconut oil may boost your metabolism and help your body get rid of belly fat.
Drinking enough water is a great way to stay hydrated.
Researchers note that about 40% of that increase is explained by the additional calories needed to heat the water to body temperature (82Trusted Source).
Yet, the effects only seem to last for 60–90 minutes after drinking it and may vary from one person to another (83Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Drinking water may temporarily increase your metabolism. However, effects are temporary and may vary between individuals.
Seaweed is a great source of iodine, a mineral required for the production of thyroid hormones and proper function of your thyroid gland (84Trusted Source).
Thyroid hormones have various functions, one of which is to regulate your metabolic rate (12Trusted Source).
Regularly consuming seaweed can help you meet your iodine needs and keep your metabolism running at a high rate.
The reference daily intake of iodine for adults is 150 mcg per day. This can be met by consuming several servings of seaweed per week.
Although, some types of seaweed such as kelp are extremely high in iodine and should not be consumed in large amounts.
Fucoxanthin is another compound found in some varieties of seaweed that may help with metabolism.
It’s primarily found in brown seaweed varieties and may have anti-obesity effects by increasing the amount of calories you burn