I have been asked these questions many times: What foods can I eat to speed up my metabolism? Are there actually foods that can help me burn fat more efficiently? There is definitely a science behind "fat burning" foods. It is important to understand what exactly this means. A fat burning food by definition is a food that takes more calories to digest than it does to consume it. An example of this would be celery. It takes us more energy to actually chew up a piece of celery and the body to then digest the celery than the calories in the entire stick of celery.
In realty, we know this is not practical or optimal for nutritional health. We must eat a variety of foods to actually extract the nutrients for our body to be healthy and survive. There are certain foods however that do cause the body to work harder during digestion, thereby reducing the number of calories the body retains. These "fat burning" foods are called "thermogenic."
Our bodies need a combination of 3 macronutrients daily: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Protein is actually a thermogenic; which means by increasing your overall protein intake and reducing carbohydrates (not less than 40% of your daily calories) not only will cause hormonal changes that promote weight loss, but will boost metabolism through thermogenesis. It has been estimated as much as 30% of calories from protein are burned during digestion.
What does this all mean? If you consume a typical boneless skinless chicken breast, containing approximately 300 calories, roughly 100 of these calories will be burned away during digestion.
"Fat burning" foods to consider:
- Jalapenos (Cayenne pepper)- contains capsaicin which stimulates metabolism, speeds up heart rate and reduces "bad" fat in the arteries
- Ginger - expands the blood vessels, increases metabolism and stimulates circulation
- Milk - contains calcium which is a metabolic trigger (recommended to consume 1,200 - 1,300mg of calcium daily)
- Olive oil - helps to burn fat and reduce "bad" fat in the blood
- Citrus foods - contain vitamin C, helps to liquefy fat and remove it from the body faster
- Green tea - contains a chemical called EGCG that causes the brain and nervous system to run faster helping you to burn more calories
- Eggs - contain high levels of vitamin B12 which helps the body break down fat and stimulate the metabolism
- Salmon - contains Omega 3 fatty acids, this can alter leptin, a hormone in your body associated with higher caloric burn
- Garlic - helps to regulate insulin - also known as an antioxidant
- Oatmeal - rich source of fiber, slowly releases glucose without causing insulin to spike
Angela Hattaway is a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer with over 15 years experience. She got her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University and she also has a Master's Degree in Business with an emphasis on Healthcare. Angela is experienced in working with both children and adults and loves working with clients to help them set realistic goals and expectations. She is passionate about nutrition and fitness and feels this comes through when she works with people. Angela loves giving clients the tools, motivation and encouragement they need to be successful throughout their lives. Visit her blog at blog.ultimatenutritionnfitness.com. She can be reached via email at at firstname.lastname@example.org.