Make these five subtle tweaks to your daily diet to see a big payoff (and a smaller waistline)!
1. Eat Your Vitamins
B vitamins, especially niacin, can help crank things up by increasing energy production from the mitochondria, the power drivers of our cells. Produce, dairy products, eggs and whole grains are all rich sources of B vitamins.
Take Charge: Try quinoa, a grain that’s rich in B vitamins, or add a half cup of chopped bell peppers and some shredded, low-fat cheese to your morning egg scramble.
2. Go for Green Tea
Green tea contains caffeine and the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), stimulants that increase the number of calories you burn during a 24-hour period. The boost is slight, roughly 100 calories, but it can make a difference if you drink the beverage regularly, suggests an article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Take Charge: Sip five or six cups of unsweetened iced or hot green tea (the amount shown to have metabolic health benefits) throughout the day. If you want to go sans caffeine, the metabolism-boosting EGCG can still be found in the decaf brew, although it is not as potent.
3. Spice Things Up
Capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers, might rev up metabolism by about 5 percent, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity. Allyl isothiocyanate, a compound in spicy mustard, can give your body a temporary bump in metabolism, research has found.
Take Charge: Exchange the mayo on your turkey sandwich for spicy mustard, or add a tablespoon of mustard to homemade vinaigrette. Sprinkle crushed red pepper into spaghetti sauce, and add a teaspoon of chili powder to ground turkey for tacos.
4. Pack a Protein Punch
It takes more energy to digest protein than carbohydrates or fat. If you eat 100 calories’ worth of protein, you burn up to 35 while digesting, absorbing and eliminating them. With 100 calories’ worth of carbs, you burn up to 15 that way. And protein is crucial for building muscle. The more muscle you have, the more efficiently your body burns calories.
Take Charge: Try these high-protein snacks
• 1 ounce part-skim string cheese with 1 medium apple (162 calories, 5 grams fat, 7 grams protein)
• 1 cup nonfat or 2 percent Greek yogurt with 1½ oz. almonds (255 calories, 12g fat, 26g protein)
• 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 celery stalks and 1 cup skim milk (295 calories, 16g fat, 17g protein)
5. Don’t Skip Breakfast
If you skip breakfast, your body goes into starvation mode. The reason? Having an empty stomach sends a message to your cells to conserve energy in case more food doesn’t arrive. To kick-start your metabolism first thing and for the day ahead, it’s best to eat within two hours of waking up.
Take Charge: To get the most calorie-burning benefits, try 1 cup oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, topped with 1 ounce chopped nuts and ½ cup to 1 cup fresh or frozen berries.