Ask Kayla, #3: "Metabolic Maven" by Kayla Butts MS, RD, LD

“Kayla, can you recommend things that actually jump-start your metabolism. I've tried some of the things articles suggest, but nothing works.”

Dear Mavie,

Speeding up one’s metabolism is the hope of every post-pubescent female (and most males). What could be more ideal than making our bodies naturally use more energy so that we can eat more and stay slim?

Indeed, there are a handful of foods that increase the rate at which our bodies burn calories.

1. The antioxidant naringenin in grapefruit aids the body in processing insulin and burning calories.

2. Green tea contains Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which increases the nervous system and fat breakdown.

3. Hot peppers can increase your body’s conversion of energy to heat through a compound called capsaicin.

4. Drinking cold water can cause a loss of 50 calories per day, a German study found, which resulted in a weight loss of five pounds in a year. Researchers contributed this to the extra calories it takes to raise the temperature of the water to your body’s temperature.

Unfortunately, the effects of these foods are mostly nominal. Consuming an extra grapefruit a day will not counteract the effects of overeating. A better bet to try to boost your metabolism, is to live a healthier lifestyle. Here are my top tips for upping your body’s fat-burning ability while you’re at rest:

• Get Some Shut Eye:
Getting a full night’s rest is elemental in maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy metabolism.

• Balance Your Meals
with Protein, Complex Carbohydrates, and Healthy Fats: Fat and protein are more difficult for your body to digest, and therefore, rev up your metabolism. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread, steel cut oats), vegetables, and fruits contain fiber which keeps you fuller longer and burn calories during digestion.

• Be Choosy with Your Produce:
Pollutants from pesticides sprayed on produce has been shown to prevent weight loss by slowing the metabolism. Choose organic produce in fruits and vegetables with edible skins and the following “dirty dozen”: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, hot peppers*.

• Breakfast is Key:
Enjoy a well-balanced breakfast every morning to rev up your metabolism. Include the usual suspects: protein, healthy fat, fruits and/or veg, and a complex carb. Bonus points if you include foods high in Vitamin D and Iron, like milk, eggs, and fortified cereal as these nutrients help energize your metabolism.

• Drink Plenty of Water:
Dehydration can slow down your metabolism and burn two percent less calories per day. Aim for 68 ounces of water per day.

• Eat for Your Gut:
The bacteria that lines our gut has an impact on our metabolic capabilities. Certain gut bacteria thrive after fatty, sugary meals, and these little guys seem to slow down our metabolism. Other, good bacteria proliferates after we eat probiotics found in yogurt, fermented food, and (YAY!) dark chocolate, eat a healthy breakfast, and get enough sleep. These energetic bacteria busily feed on the food we eat at a faster rate, burning more energy for their host.

Maven, my girl, the good news is you can absolutely speed up your metabolism. But like many things in life, there isn’t a cure-all pill or food that will do it for you.

Think of your body as a car, your metabolism its engine. Your vehicle won’t function properly on old, contaminated fuel (junk food and produce with pesticides) and a drained battery (little sleep). Treat your body better than you treat your car, and you’ll be running like a champ in no time.

Happy, healthy eating,

Kayla Butts, MS, RD, LD


For more nutrient-packed goodies, check out Kayla's recipes in The Bend Magazine or on her blog at:

Ask Kayla an Anonymous Question
about Healthy Living!

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