According to the New York Daily News, certain foods can speed up your metabolism, which controls the body's ability to burn fat. Of course, the only way to permanently change your metabolism is to gain or lose weight and build muscle, but eating certain foods may give your metabolism a temporary boost and even help you lose weight over time.
Calcium in dairy products, such as low-fat milk and yogurt, triggers your metabolism. A study at the University of Tennessee found that dieters who consumed 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day lost up to twice as much weight as dieters who consumed less calcium. Maybe the old adage is true: milk actually does a body good.
Complex carbohydrates, found in foods such as grains, berries and cereals, take longer for the body to digest, so you feel full longer after eating them. This type of carb helps burn fat by keeping insulin levels low, which, in turn, pumps up your metabolism. Contrastly, simple carbs---found in sugary foods like candy and soda---can rocket your insulin levels, sending a message to your body that it needs to store more fat and slow down your metabolism.
Many breakfast foods contain complex carbohydrates (cereal, oatmeal, whole wheat toast or bagels). An especially good fat burner is oatmeal because it breaks down very slowly in your stomach. Eating each morning will also help your body burn more fat because it keeps your insulin levels low, encouraging more rapid calorie burn. A U.S. Navy study showed that eating breakfast helped raise metabolism by 10 percent. Accordingly, skipping meals throughout the day slows your metabolism, which makes your body store more fat.
Capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers their heat, also speeds your heart rate, and this boosts your metabolism. Eating one spicy meal a day can boost your metabolism as much as 25 percent, a boost that will last about three hours. Good examples of spicy bites to try are jalapenos, habaneros and cayenne peppers.
Like spicy foods, caffeine also speeds your heart rate, which makes your body burn more calories. But green tea also contains an important chemical called EGCG that causes your brain and nervous system to run more quickly, which also helps you burn more calories. The combination of caffeine and at least 90 milligrams of EGCG three times a day can help you burn an extra 80 calories.
It takes more energy for the body to digest the protein than carbohydrates or fat. So the more protein you eat, the harder your body works to digest it, burning more calories. Researchers at Arizona State University found that people who ate a high-protein diet burned twice as many calories after eating than those who ate a high-carbohydrate diet. Good examples of protein sources are lean beef, chicken, pork, fish and beans. One of the best protein sources is turkey, because it has the lowest number of calories per ounce of any animal protein.
Besides being a great protein, fish contains omega-3 fatty acids. These health fats alter the levels of the hormone leptin, which determines whether your burn calories or store them as fat. A study at the Mayo Clinic compared two African tribes; members of the tribe who consumed large amounts of fish had leptin levels five times lower than members of another tribe who mostly consumed vegetables. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna and sardines, but if you don't like seafood, fish oil supplements work just as well.