Can you really speed up your metabolism?

Abi Moustafa

You may have heard that certain foods can speed up your metabolism.

They’re called thermogenic foods. And it’s purported that eating them can actually increase your metabolic rate, supposedly making you burn more energy.

Hold up – it's not as easy as eating extra greens! Photo: Getty Images.

Amazing, right? Well, before you head to the shops to buy up the latest metabolism-boosting herbal remedies, there’s pretty sizeable chance that it’s all a load of rubbish. The folks at I Quit Sugar have figured out what you need to know.

Only a handful of foods are known to be thermogenic.

These substances are pretty much the only ones that scientists agree may boost your metabolism.

Caffeine: Human studies have shown caffeine to increase energy expenditure. Cue the sales of caffeine-infused activewear (yes, that actually exists).

Pour us a cuppa, please?! Photo: Getty Images.

Tea: Green tea in particular is rich in antioxidants called catechins – which studies have shown stimulates thermogenesis in fatty tissue.

Right, we'll be investing in some Green Tea asap. Photo: Getty Images.

Chilli: Possibly the most thermogenic food of all! Capsaicin (the stuff that makes chilli hot) has also been reported to bump up your metabolic rate.
But here’s the catch. If these three foods even make a difference to your metabolism, it’s likely to be very temporary and very small. Depending on which study you read, you’d have to be quaffing caffeinated drinks and adding eye-watering amounts of chilli to all your meals to make a measurable difference – and that’s probably not going to be good for your health, or your tastebuds.

Throw a chilli or two into your next stir fry! Photo: Getty Images.

And the others?

Supplements like raspberry ketones and garcinia cambogia all claim to speed up weight loss and shred belly fat. But these amazing benefits are not substantiated by official bodies, and most of the time have no grounding in science. Sorry.

Exercise, however, does increase your metabolic rate.

Many human studies have shown that physical activity can increase your metabolic rate immediately after a workout. But what’s more exciting is that the more muscle you have, the more energy you’ll automatically burn, even if you’re just binge-watching Netflix.

That’s because, unlike fat, muscle is an active tissue. Again it’s a very fractional difference (an estimated 10 calorie increase per pound of muscle), but it’s certainly a motivator to get moving!

Of course, chances are, your metabolism is normal and natural for your body – and there’s actually nothing to fix. Although, if you are concerned you have an underlying thyroid condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner.

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