How Certain Foods Speed Up Our Metabolism

The Extra Edge

Vegetables Harvested From an Urban Farm
Capsicum Increases Our Metabolism. Valery Rizzo / Getty Images

While there is no magic pill or short-cut to losing fat, research has shown certain foods increase metabolism and speed up our ability to burn calories. Consistent exercise and eating right is the recommended way to achieve fitness. However, eating those foods proven to speed up metabolism may provide an extra edge to lose weight more efficiently. The following list of foods coupled with regular exercise are shown to enhance the fat burning process.  

Hot Peppers

Spice up your menu and fat loss with the capsicum family or hot peppers. According to research, the active component capsaicin boosts metabolism and stimulates fat oxidation. The properties of the hot and spicy pepper are also shown to decrease appetite and overall food intake. Other detailed studies support energy expenditure is higher in red peppers and is on the top ten list of natural metabolism boosting foods. 

Green Tea

Green tea has been scientifically proven to boost metabolism. According to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea has thermogenic (fat burning) properties. It is suggested green tea stimulates fat oxidation even beyond what's provided through it's caffeine content. Other studies show green tea extract contributing to the control of body composition through fat oxidation. Caffeine is naturally occurring in green tea extract along with powerful antioxidants. This combination provides bountiful health benefits assisting with weight loss while removing harmful free radicals from the body. Research also shows the plant compound EGCg found in green tea promotes fat loss. 


Coffee contains caffeine, a natural stimulant proven to increase metabolism. According to research, it's one of the most potent metabolism boosting foods.  An article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows caffeinated coffee significantly increases energy expenditure over several hours after consumption. Coffee also contains antioxidants providing numerous health benefits. Research has shown stimulant properties found in coffee to improve concentration and create more productive workouts. Other sports nutrition studies have recommended black coffee as an effective, natural pre-workout drink. 

Cold Water

Sports nutrition studies have labeled water as the most important nutrient in our diet. In addition, drinking plenty of water is shown to boost metabolism and aid in fat loss. According to research, drinking water and especially cold water ensures hydration which supports an optimal metabolic rate. An article published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, stated drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%.”  This significant finding should provide motivation to increase our water intake for overall health benefits including weight loss.  

Whole Grains and Lentils

Oats and scoop
Whole Grains Control Insulin Levels. Rita Maas / Getty Images

Research shows eating good carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice or quinoa help boost metabolism. Consuming whole grains are said to help maintain and stabilize insulin levels.  Whole grains work by releasing sugar slowly into the body providing lasting energy while not spiking insulin levels unlike sugar-rich foods. Maintaining lower insulin levels and keeping insulin spikes under control decreases the body wanting to store fat. This is a good thing. A bowl of oatmeal for example aids digestion, increases metabolism, maintains normal insulin levels and provides energy for hours

Lentils are a fiber rich food and a good source of healthy carbohydrates and protein. According to research, this power packed combination helps with digestion and increased metabolism. Studies show the iron content in lentils assists oxygen flow throughout the body and is linked to increased metabolism and energy production. The incredible health benefits of whole grains and lentils make these foods a great additive to the daily menu.  

Low-fat Dairy and Yogurt

Research has shown foods rich in calcium and probiotics linked to increased metabolism. Milk and yogurt are rich sources of calcium that may assist burning body fat more efficiently. The probiotics found in yogurt aid in digestion which in turn boosts metabolism. Cottage cheese is another great calcium source shown to increase metabolism and help with muscle maintenance and repair. An article published in the National Institutes of Health, suggested consuming calcium significantly improved overall weight and fat loss especially from the abdominal area.  


According to research, eating two apples per day may keep the weight away. Apples are full of fiber which maintains and regulates blood sugar, helps digestion, and increases metabolism.  They are also very filling and the high fiber content encourages fat burning and not fat storing. Consider curbing that sweet tooth by eating an apple or two to naturally increase your metabolism and shed those unwanted pounds.  

Nuts and Seeds

Research has shown consuming nuts and seeds an effective way to boost metabolism. Nuts are a rich source of essential fats directly linked to elevating metabolism. Eating raw nuts is recommended to ensure they maintain their nutrient value. The roasting process typical in canned nuts can destroy nutrients important to our health. According to studies, raw nuts and seeds contain inositol and choline, chemicals that help eliminate fat in the body. It is said their function ensures that the fat burned does not return. Nuts and seeds are also filling and fiber full aiding in digestion and keeping the body satisfied for hours. They are a great portable snack anytime to keep our metabolism boosted. 

Fatty Fish

Research shows fish like salmon a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids and linked to increased metabolism. Fish oil elevates fat burning enzymes which boosts metabolism significantly.  Eating foods rich in fatty acids promotes the reduction of the hormone leptin in the body shown to lower metabolism. Studies have revealed a positive effect and reduction of leptin with the consumption of Omega-3 fats and an increase in metabolism. It's recommended fatty fish be included in the diet at least two to three times per week for optimal benefit.  


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans, Dulloo AG, 12/1999

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, A simple apparatus for comparative measurements of energy expenditure in human subjects: the thermic effect of caffeine, Hollands MA, 10/1981

Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, Effects of red-pepper diet on the energy metabolism in men, Yoshioka M, 12/14/95

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Water-Induced Thermogenesis, Michael Boschmann, 7/2/13

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults, Zemel MB, 4/12/2004

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women, Conceição de Oliveira M, 3/19/2003