5 Best Eating Habits to Help Boost Your Metabolism, Say Dietitians
Healthy eating habits may not always come easily, but prioritizing a solid few can go a long way when it comes to supporting a strong metabolism. No more over-filling your plate or forgetting your greens on a daily basis. Your body will thank you later!
A healthy, strong metabolism helps your body's overall functionality. It simply breaks down nutrients from your everyday foods, "uses up calories efficiently and doesn't store them as fat unnecessarily," explains our medical expert board members Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, also known as The Nutrition Twins
Whether you want to lose weight or just maintain it, it's important to sustain a fast-working metabolism. It's recommended to have a fast and well-functioning metabolism, according to the Nutrition Twins, because you "can burn more calories all day long [and] food doesn't have the dreaded fate of ending up on the stomach, hips and butt as body fat."
The warning signs of a dysfunctioning metabolism can be a number of things. Whether you're constantly tired, "you crave carbs and sugar, you have trouble regulating your body temperature, you're constipated or have irregular periods, [then] your metabolism may not be functioning the way it should," says The Nutrition Twins.
Although these are common symptoms, they suggest keeping in mind that these may also be factors of other health problems. (Check with your doctor). As you plan your meals for the upcoming week, take a shot with these eating habits to boost your metabolism so your body doesn't have to work so hard every day! Then, for more information on metabolism, check out The #1 Easiest Way to Boost Your Metabolism, New Study Says.
Pick your snacks wisely.
Snacking is not the enemy. However, accounting for what you decide to snack on throughout the day has its benefits. The Nutrition Twins point to research that suggests choosing a protein-packed snack over a bowl of carbs because it "increases your metabolic rate while your body is at rest [not exercising] and when you're asleep."
For example, after eating a 300-calorie turkey breast, "roughly 90 of those calories will be burned during the digestive process," they explain. When your body breaks down protein foods, your metabolism is put to work more efficiently than when you consume heavy amounts of carbohydrates.
As your body burns more calories from protein snacks, your metabolism can naturally disperse such calories as a source of energy at faster rates. Considering an estimate of "30% of the calories consumed from protein are used solely to digest and process it," The Nutrition Twins explain.
Don't eat too much all at once.
"Aside from contributing to weight gain, if you eat too much at once, it will make you sluggish and less active," say The Nutrition Twins. Don't be afraid to start with smaller portions on your plate and go back for more food later if you're still hungry.
If you're eating "large, fatty, high-calorie meals," especially if you're inactive, they explain, "you'll burn fewer calories and you won't be able to jumpstart your metabolism, as you typically would if you had the energy to exercise and/or strength training."
Basically, if your metabolism can't keep up with your calorie intake, it's going to slow down overtime because it's working twice as hard to break down such a large amount of calories all at once.
But make sure you eat enough daily calories overall.
Eating enough calories throughout the day fuels your body and helps maintain a metabolism well-oiled machine. But if you're in a caloric deficit or under your daily intake needs and you're not seeing any weight loss results, this could be a sign that your metabolism isn't functioning at the capacity that it should be, according to the Nutrition Twins.
Skipping meals and losing out on vital calories in your day slows down your metabolism by causing it to withhold calories for too long for the body to continue to function. If you're eating enough meals and snacks, your metabolism will work consistently (even at rest) and not have to work to maintain a bare minimum of energy for your body.
Include more leafy greens in your diet.
The nutrients found in leafy greens are beneficial for the body in various ways. Eating more greens can support the development of better digestion and, in turn, takes stress off metabolism after eating.
Including more servings of vegetables and leafy greens in your daily meals supports the postprandial state of metabolism, or the period after a meal, one study found. This creates a seamlessly working metabolism because leafy greens produce healthy blood glucose and lipid levels which can be easily broken down into forms of energy.
Cut back on your alcoholic drinks.
When alcohol is a part of the equation, "it suppresses your metabolism and stimulates appetite" because "your body digests it rather than food, and consequently excess carbs, protein and fat may be stored as fat," say The Nutrition Twins.
Enjoying a drink here or there with friends is completely fine, it's just a matter of keeping track of how many. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking consists of two or fewer drinks for men a day, and one drink or fewer for women.