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Put Your Metabolism into Fifth Gear

By Gary Picariello

I remember the good ol' days when I could wolf down no less than three Wendy's Triple Burgers and still have room for a shake. I could have probably consumed even more because my 17-year-old metabolism was in nuclear mode. If I try that now I can't even fathom the harm it would do. As I've gotten older -- 17 was more than half a lifetime ago -- my metabolism just doesn't rev up like it used to. All is not lost however: There are some foods which studies show may temporarily increase how many calories you burn throughout the day.

Metabolism and You

First things first. Because metabolism is the process of how the body converts what you eat and drink into energy, the number of calories that the body needs varies based on dietary intake and activity.

Of course, the best way to increase metabolism is to increase muscle mass via strength and weight training because muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue.

Feel the Burn

The jury is still out for conclusive data regarding boosting your metabolism via diet. But what is known is that the following foods can temporarily increase the amount of calories you burn.

  • Green tea: Green tea has the best evidence that it may raise metabolic rate. Studies have shown that drinking several cups of green tea per day, which contains caffeine and catechins, can help the body use more energy.
  • Water: Your body needs water to process food and convert calories into usable energy. Therefore, dehydration leaves the body at a disadvantage and causes this process to slow down.
  • Caffeine: This stimulant found in coffee and tea can increase the amount of calories your body burns; most studies have proven this effect with very high intake (8-10 cups per day). Careful: For some people, caffeine can cause heartburn, high blood pressure, or sleep problems.
  • Lean protein: Protein-rich foods increase satiety, which can prevent overeating. While protein foods won't specifically increase the body's metabolism, lean protein like chicken or eggs can help you feel fuller for longer.

In the long run, adding these foods may help increase your body's resting metabolism. Remember there is no quick fix for weight loss. What you can do is exercise more, and more intensely, which will burn more calories than these foods. If your goal is weight loss, aim to eat healthy and increase exercise at the same time.

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