Foods That Fuel Metabolism
Dieting 101 will tell you that weight is lost when more calories are burned than consumed. Now that we have this information, we can get started on constructing our leaner, meaner selves. We eat better, exercise, and burn more calories than we eat. But before you know it...oops.
Low calorie intake can hit the brakes on weight loss. The body can go into starvation mode, a defense that actually prevents starvation by making the most of the calories gotten from food and drink. The fat that is stored is protected by using lean tissue or muscle to provide calories, resulting in a loss of muscle. This in turn lowers metabolic rate, the body needs fewer calories, and weight loss slows down. Now you get to be hungry and not lose weight as well.
If this isn't what you signed on for, then you might be pleased to hear that there are options.
How to Smartly Refuel Your Metabolism
Dieting is more about eating smart than eating less. Begin by giving junk food a one-way bus ticket out of your home Then add foods to your menu that are lower in calories but have enough volume to satisfy hunger. There are foods that naturally stoke your metabolism and burn off calories without promoting hunger.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that eating the right kind of food can prevent the metabolic decline that can accompany dieting.[Read: ** Mediterranean Diet May Reverse Metabolic Syndrome**]
Subjects in the study were divided into three groups. The first was a high-carbohydrate maintenance-diet group. The second a moderate-carbohydrate maintenance group. And the third a low-carbohydrate maintenance-diet group. All of the test subjects had recently lost ten to fifteen percent of their body weight.
The high and low carb diets both had poor outcomes. The high carb had the biggest drop in metabolism and the low carb had increases in the stress hormone cortisol. Both outcomes are associated with poor health and weight gain.
The diet with a moderate amount of carbs fared best. The diet consisted of: 40 percent of calories coming from vegetables, fruit, beans, low-fat dairy and wholes grains; another 40 percent of calories coming from olive oil, nuts, fish, avocado and protein; and the final 20 percent of calories coming from beans, fish, poultry, eggs, and lean meats.
In order to boost your metabolism it is best to get your carbs from whole fruit, veggies, beans, low-fat dairy and whole grains while avoiding refined foods such as white bread and sugary food, according to the study.** Here are some other helpful tips to consider:**
- Whole grains and starchy vegetables should be eaten modestly in their least processed form and healthy fats such as nuts, avocados, fish and olive oil belong in your diet, as well.
Protein sources will be beans, nuts, eggs, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry and lean meat.
Sugary drinks and sweets are to be avoided.
Green tea and foods that contain capsaicin such as jalapeño, cayenne, and chili peppers also have been shown to increase metabolic rate, although the boost they provide is small.
Keep an eye on your total calorie consumption and be active!