The following metabolism-boosting food rules were developed by Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition and kinesiology at Georgia State University, and Tammy Lakatos, RD. Here’s how to adjust your eating plan to help your body burn fat.
1. You don’t eat enough
Cutting calories is important but you don’t want to put yourself into starvation mode. Physical hunger (stomach growling, hunger pains) means you should eat something, but the hunger you feel when you walk past the bakery is mental hunger and doesn’t mean your body wants food. If you go below 1000 calories a day you really should seek the help of a physician who specializes in weight loss….like me!
2. You gave up coffee
Caffeine can increase your metabolism up to an additional 150 calories per day.
3. Your carbs are white!
Eating whole grains is better than refined grains….but if you really want to lose weight, keep your carbohydrates sources limited to non-starchy vegetables and fruit (hold the banana though).
4. Your water is warm
Drinking cold water can increase your metabolism up to an additional 50 calories per day.
5. Your food is covered with pesticides
Canadian researchers report that dieters with the most organochlorines (pollutants from pesticides, which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lose weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain. Always choose organic when buying peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, and pears; non-organic versions tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
6. Your missing out on protein
Make sure protein is a component in every meal. Your body needs it to maintain lean muscle. Add a serving, like 3 ounces of lean meat, 2 tablespoons of nuts, or 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, to every meal and snack. Research shows protein can up post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35%.
7. Your diet needs to pump iron
Iron-rich foods are essential for carrying the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat. Until menopause, women lose iron each month through menstruation. Unless you restock your stores, you run the risk of low energy and a sagging metabolism. Shellfish, lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach are excellent sources or iron.
8. You’re missing vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for preserving metabolism-revving muscle tissue. Unfortunately, researchers estimate that a measly 4% of Americans over age 50 take in enough through their diet. Get 90% of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of salmon. Other good sources: tuna, shrimp, tofu, fortified milk and cereal, and eggs.
9. You’ve had one drink too many
Skip the second cocktail. When you have an alcoholic drink, you burn less fat, and more slowly than usual, because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Knocking back the equivalent of about two martinis can reduce your body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73%.
10. You’re not getting enough dairy
“There’s some evidence that calcium deficiency, which is common in many women, may slow metabolism,” says Lakatos. Research shows that consuming calcium through dairy foods such as fat-free milk and low-fat yogurt may also reduce fat absorption from other foods.