“Protein takes more energy to breakdown, so consuming adequate protein at all meals and snacks can help increase the metabolic burn or thermic effect of food after a meal,” says Goodson. “Basically, it takes more energy to digest high-protein foods,” she adds. To take advantage of this effect, be sure to consume plenty of protein, whether from animal or plant sources. Good options include chicken, lean beef, eggs, legumes and pulses.
If you like heat, your metabolism is in luck. “Capsaicin is a chemical found in peppers that may play a slight role in boosting metabolism,” says Goodson. She points to research suggesting that consuming 135–150 milligrams of capsaicin might result in burning an extra 50 calories each day. That might not sound like much, but do a little math, and that accounts for about 5 pounds per year.
“Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and thus can help you burn more calories and possibly burn more fat,” says Goodson. One study showed coffee can increase your metabolic rate by up to 11%, while another study found people who consume 270 milligrams of caffeine daily can burn an extra 100 calories.
Goodson stresses caffeine affects every person differently, and caffeine-sensitive people should be careful not to overdo it. The 270 grams mentioned above is equivalent to about three cups of coffee, which may be too much for some people.
“The caffeine in tea has also been shown to help boost metabolism a small amount,” says Goodson. Studies show oolong tea may increase your body’s energy expenditure by as much as 10% over a 2-hour period, and that tea may also be effective in increasing fat oxidation.
BUT STILL … YOU NEED TO EXERCISE
Eating specific foods isn’t the only way to ignite your internal furnace. Goodson mentions that high-intensity exercise is also an effective metabolism booster.