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Joanna Dolgoff, M.D.

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Foods That Can Rev Your Metabolism

Posted: 07/29/11 09:20 AM ET

If you are one of the many people in the battle to fight the bulge, you will be pleased to learn that there are actually foods that may help you burn fat. Certain foods have a strong metabolism-boosting impact when eaten. Some of the calories in food you eat are burned off just to digest them, so the net amount of calories is less than the amount contained in the food. This process is called dietary induced thermogenesis. The following list of foods speed up the rate at which your body burns calories in different ways. These foods get a green light, so eat and enjoy!

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  • Low-Fat Dairy (Milk, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese):

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Studies</a> show that not getting enough calcium may trigger the release of calcitrol, a hormone that causes us to store fat. Therefore, meeting your daily calcium needs through consumption of low-fat dairy products helps to burn fat more efficiently. Dairy products can boost weight loss efforts, according to a recent study in obesity research. People on a reduced-calorie diet who included three to four servings of dairy foods lost significantly more weight than those who ate a low-dairy diet containing the same number of calories. Low-fat yogurt is a rich source of weight-loss-friendly calcium, providing about 450 mg per 8-ounce serving, as well as 12 grams of protein.

  • Berries:

    Berries are high in fiber -- and fiber keeps you full and satisfied all day on little calories. A 1 cup serving of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber and only 60 calories! Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are all high-fiber berries. Fiber also acts like a sponge and absorbs and moves fat through our digestive system faster so that less of it is absorbed.

  • Citrus Fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemon, limes):

    Foods that contain Vitamin C help metabolize fat faster and make losing weight less difficult. You only need 60 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day to meet your body's basic needs, but raising your daily intake to 500 mg could boost your fat burning potential during exercise by 39 percent. Researchers at <a href="" target="_hplink">Scripps Clinic</a> found that participants who ate half a grapefruit with each meal in a 12-week period lost an average of 3.6 pounds. The study indicates that the unique chemical properties in this vitamin C-packed citrus fruit reduce insulin levels, which promotes weight loss. NOTE: If you are taking medication, check with your doctor about any potentially adverse interactions with grapefruit.

  • Green Tea:

    Green tea contains caffeine, which is a natural stimulant that can help your body burn more calories while at rest. Caffeine speeds up the heart rate and also <a href=" free fatty acids for energy acsm&f=false" target="_hplink">frees fatty acids</a> stored in the body, making them more readily available for energy use. Also, green tea contains a compound called ECGC that may help to boost your metabolism as well by speeding up the brain and nervous system.

  • Water:

    Water helps to rid the body of toxins and chemicals that may be slowing down your overall metabolism. A new study seems to indicate that drinking water actually speeds up weight loss. Researchers in Germany found that subjects of the <a href="" target="_hplink">study</a> increased their metabolic rates (the rate at which calories are burned) by 30 percent after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant that banishes bloat as it flushes out sodium and toxins. Make sure that you are starting your day with a big glass of water and drink throughout the day, not just all at one time.

  • Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Trout, Sardines):

    These fish all contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which, besides being incredibly healthy, seem to affect metabolism. Omega-3 fatty acids alter levels of leptin, a hormone in the body that directly influences metabolism and determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) increase the levels of fat-burning enzymes and decrease the levels of fat-storage enzymes. It's been shown to boost metabolism by as much as 400 calories per day.

  • Lean Proteins (Lean Beef, Chicken and Turkey):

    Eating lean protein helps to preserve muscle mass during weight loss, keeping metabolism running at full speed. Countless studies have shown that protein can help boost metabolism, lose fat and build lean muscle tissue so you burn more calories.

  • Spicy Peppers (Jalapenos, habaneros, chili peppers):

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Studies</a> show that the chemical compound capsacin, found in peppers, speeds up your heart rate and metabolism. Eating a very spicy meal can actually speed up the metabolism by about 25 percent for up to three hours. Keep crushed red pepper on the table to spice up everything from scrambled eggs to soup to pasta.

  • Broccoli:

    Study after study links calcium and weight loss. Broccoli is not only high in calcium, but is also loaded with vitamin C, which boosts calcium absorption. This member of the nutritious cabbage family also has plenty of vitamin A, folate and fiber. At just 20-calories per cup, this weight-loss superfood fights fat and also contains powerful phytochemicals that boosts your immunity and protect against disease. Try it chopped in your salad, or sautéed and used in an omelet or as a side dish.


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