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11 Natural Foods to Help Boost Your Metabolism

Certain foods and spices could help you burn fat, including stubborn belly fat

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Sarah Rogers (Source: Getty Images (4))

Sure, it would be nice if you could down a serving of one of the foods named here and figure you’ve done your part in strolling down the road to losing weight and getting healthy. Alas, it’s not that simple. Losing fat is a complicated process. The foods listed here can help enhance fat loss, but they don’t make fat cells go up in smoke. They’re one part of the weight-loss puzzle. Consuming them helps control your appetite so that you’ll eat less, which, in turn, leads to weight loss. And, according to Johns Hopkins University, in addition to consuming these 11 foods, you should keep moving and lift weights to get in shape to live a healthier life.  

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1. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt, with twice as much protein as other yogurts, is a sure bet to burn off some of that unwanted body fat. Why? The body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbs. If you’re spooning out a dish of Greek yogurt for breakfast, add some healthy fiber with a handful of fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. These jewel-like fruits may help increase a feeling of fullness and reduce the number of calories your body absorbs. 

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2. Salmon 

This delicate fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost your metabolism, improving your body’s ability to burn fat. Omega-3s may have a role in raising the body’s resting metabolic rate, thus contributing to weight loss. Researchers caution that further studies on the subject are necessary. Salmon also contains vitamin B-12, a nutrient the body cannot make itself. Studies have suggested that vitamin B-12 deficiency is linked to increased body fat and obesity. Just remember not to serve the salmon with high-calorie sauces and sides. 

3. Blueberries

In addition,  garden-variety blueberries may help prevent the weight gain that seems to come with age. They’re rich in naturally occurring plant chemicals called flavonoids. A long-term study published in the British Medical Journal tracked more than 100,000 men and women for multiple four-year time intervals. It concluded that eating foods rich in flavonoids, particularly anthocyanins, which are found in blueberries, was associated with less weight gain among men and women ages 27-65 who were studied for up to 24 years.

4. Coffee 

Drinking four cups of coffee a day can help shed body fat by as much as 4 percent, according to a 24-week investigation in which 126 overweight adults drank either four cups of regular coffee or four cups of a coffee-like substitute. The study was carried out by researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They think the caffeine in the coffee may increase the drinker’s metabolism, which may burn more calories and cause a decrease in body fat. 

5 Oolong tea 

All tea comes from one plant (Camellia sinensis). Their differences result from the way the leaves are processed. Oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black teas.  All three teas contain caffeine, albeit less than coffee. Black tea contains the most caffeine; oolong tea has more caffeine than green and less than black. Aside from caffeine content, studies suggest that oolong stimulates fat burning and can increase the number of calories your body burns. In addition, it’s high in an amino acid that can reduce stress and anxiety and promote better sleep quality.  


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6. Olive oil 

No wonder olive oil is so popular. It adds pizzazz to pizza and sparkle to salads. But can it be considered a weight-loss food? Surprisingly, yes, within limits. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that may help contribute to weight loss. One study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that men who were overweight or obese lost a small but significant number of pounds with no major change in other aspects of their diet. Another study, in the European Journal of Nutrition that looked at the effect of including extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) in a restrictive diet regimen on overweight women found that women who included EVOO with their breakfast foods lost approximately 80 percent more fat compared to the control group. The study suggested that there may be direct effects of the olive oil on the fat loss.

7. Chili peppers 

These fiery peppers add heat to pasta, stews, guacamole and relish. You can even sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes on your breakfast scrambled eggs or cereal. Chili peppers rev up metabolism, and contribute in other ways to weight loss. The capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, appears to be the component responsible for the favorable changes. But be careful, capsaicin can be intensely irritating if it gets in your eyes or on your skin. 

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8. Leafy greens

Your body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or carbs. That’s not the case with omega-3s. The body can’t make them from scratch and must get them from the foods you eat. That’s where spinach and other leafy greens such as kale and romaine lettuce come in. As well as benefiting your heart by keeping your blood vessels healthy, these greens are associated with weight loss by being bulky and making you feel full. So blanch, roast or chop them, and add them to your breakfast omelet or dinner salad to reap their many benefits. 

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9. Watermelon 

Most of the weight in a slice of watermelon is water, which will help you feel full, so you won’t tend to snack between meals, notes Rachel Lander-Canseco, a registered dietitian at Keck Medicine, University of Southern California. “People think that fruits are off-limits because they’re sweet,” she says, “but they’re high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.” Watermelon also contains arginine, which may help to directly reduce fat.

10. Ginger 

Naturally occurring compounds in fresh ginger root have been used for centuries to quell nausea, ease symptoms of the common cold and help treat arthritis, according to a study in the journal Molecules. While more research is needed, some research suggests that consuming ginger may enhance weight reduction. If you haven’t used it in cooking, try grating a bit of this versatile aromatic spice into a vegetable stir-fry, pancake batter or baked squash. And, of course, a soothing cup of ginger tea made with fresh ginger along with a squeeze of lemon juice is the perfect nightcap. 

11. Brown rice 

Have you noticed an extra bit of pudge around your middle? You may not like this flab, called subcutaneous fat, but a bigger health risk may be visceral fat, which is found deeper within your abdomen. Sometimes called belly fat, it may develop from consuming more calories than you need, according to the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. Help reduce your belly fat by upping your consumption of whole grains such as brown rice, which is healthier than processed foods and is associated with weight loss. Other whole grains include wheat, oats and quinoa.

Ways to boost metabolism 

Metabolism is the chemical reaction in your body’s cells that changes food into energy. Your body needs this energy to do everything from walking around the block to thinking about what you’ll have for dinner. According to Harvard Health Publishing, if your metabolism is high (or fast), you’ll burn more calories both at rest and when you’re active, so you’ll need more calories from food to maintain your weight. If your metabolism is low (or slow), you’ll burn fewer calories and will have to eat less to avoid becoming overweight. 

You can help to boost your metabolism by ramping up your exercise routine, especially your strength training. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so improving muscle tone will result in more calories burned, even during times of rest. Some high-protein foods may also help to increase metabolism, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts, which can give your metabolism a short-term boost because your body takes increased energy to digest them. However, more studies are needed on the relationship between foods and metabolism.

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