Weighing In: Can A Diet Increase Metabolism?

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Dear Heather,


    I was wandering if there was a diet that will not mess up your metabolism or make your metabolism worse if you eat other foods other than what's in you diet. For example, low carb diets, if you stay on this diet, as soon as you eat food with high carbs will you gain weight more excessively then before you went on the diet? I know exercising boosts your metabolism but are there foods or diets that do so as well?



    Heather: Great question. Unfortunately, food does not increase your metabolism, and beware of any diet that suggests otherwise. However, eating regularly throughout the day does help you maintain a higher metabolic rate so that you burn more calories.

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    Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the day are heavier than those who eat breakfast and four to five small meals a day. Eating smaller meals more frequently helps keep both your blood sugar and your metabolism on an even keel allowing you to feel better, burn more calories and lose weight. This is because when you go long periods of time without eating your body goes into what is commonly referred to as starvation mode. Since your body does not know when its next meal will come, it holds on to the reserves it has by burning fewer calories.


    You should also stay away from diets that require you to cut entire groups of foods, like carbohydrates, out of your diet. This is not a healthy way to lose weight and does not increase metabolism. The risks associated with this type of dieting aren't limited to just weight regain. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals from all the food groups so it important to eat a balance of foods that provide a variety of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.


    Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy in the body and are needed for breathing, maintaining body temperature, and the contraction and relaxation of the heart and other muscles. Instead of cutting out carbohydrates, it is healthier to choose a balance of nutrient dense ones like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.


    Fat aids in the absorption of the vitamins A, D, E and K and is needed for energy. We rely of foods to provide us with the essential fatty acids linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids. Fat helps maintain healthy skin, normal growth and immune function. While fat does play a vital role in the diet, too much saturated and trans fats can increase your risk for heart disease. Try to choose foods that are high in heart health monounsaturated fatty acids.


    Protein is essential for cell growth, repair and maintenance. It is also involved in digestion and other body functions as well as being an important energy source. Protein is particularly important if you are strength training to help repair muscle tissue broken down during your workout. Try to choose lean protein sources like fish and skinless chicken breast.


    The healthiest and most successful way to lose weight is to make changes in your diet and exercise habits that you are willing to maintain forever. Otherwise, your success will be short-lived. Weight loss and maintenance comes down to a simple equation of calories in and calories out. To lose weight, your calories in should be less than your calories out. Focusing on the mathematics of weight loss can help prevent you from getting tricked by unhealthy diet fads.

Published On: August 31, 2007

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