Certain foods can increase your metabolism.
The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to maintain your weight or get rid of unwanted body fat.
Here are 12 foods that rev up your metabolism, which may help you lose weight.
Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds, could help increase your metabolism for a few hours.
They do so by requiring your body to use more energy to digest them.
This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF refers to the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meals.
Research shows that protein-rich foods increase TEF the most. For example, they increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats (1).
Bottom Line: Protein-rich foods can help boost your metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent you from overeating.
Iron, zinc and selenium each play different but equally important roles in the proper function of your body.
However, they do have one thing in common: all three are required for the proper function of your thyroid gland, which regulates your metabolism (12).
To help your thyroid function to the best of its ability, include zinc, selenium and iron-rich foods like meat, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds in your daily menu.
Bottom Line: Foods rich in iron, zinc and selenium promote the proper function of your thyroid, which helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
Capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, may boost your metabolism by increasing the number of calories and fat you burn.
In fact, a review of 20 research studies reports that capsaicin can help your body burn around 50 extra calories per day (16).
Moreover, capsaicin may have appetite-reducing properties.
Bottom Line: Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, may help slightly increase metabolism and fat oxidation.
In fact, six different studies found that people who consume at least 270 mg of caffeine daily, or the equivalent of about three cups of coffee, burn an extra 100 calories per day (26).
Bottom Line: The caffeine found in coffee may help boost the amount of calories and fat your body burns. However, its effects may vary by individual.
According to research, the combination of caffeine and catechins that's found in tea may work to boost your metabolism.
Nevertheless, as is the case with coffee, effects may vary from person to person.
Bottom Line: The combination of caffeine and catechins found in tea may help your body burn slightly more calories and fat each day.
Legumes and pulses, such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and peanuts, are particularly high in protein compared to other plant foods.
In one study, humans consuming a legume-rich diet for eight weeks experienced beneficial changes in metabolism and lost 1.5 times more weight than the control group (48).
Legumes are also high in arginine, an amino acid that may increase the amount of carbs and fat your body can burn for energy (49).
Bottom Line: Legumes and pulses are high in protein, fiber and certain amino acids, which are thought to have metabolism-boosting properties.
Certain spices are thought to have particularly beneficial metabolism-boosting properties.
This hot ginger drink also seems to decrease levels of hunger and enhance feelings of satiety (53).
Grains of paradise, another spice in the ginger family, may have similar effects.
A recent study reported that participants given a 40-mg extract of grains of paradise burned 43 more calories in the following two hours than those given a placebo (54).
That said, researchers also noted that part of the participants were non-responders, so the effects may vary from one person to another.
Similarly, adding cayenne pepper to your meal may increase the amount of fat your body burns for energy, especially following a high-fat meal (55, 56). However, this fat-burning effect may only apply to people unaccustomed to consuming spicy foods (56).
Bottom Line: Ginger, grains of paradise and cayenne pepper may help your body burn more calories or fat. However, effects can vary from one individual to another.
Cacao and cocoa are tasty treats that may also benefit your metabolism.
For instance, studies in mice found that cocoa and cocoa extracts may promote the expression of genes that stimulate the use of fat for energy. This seems especially true in mice fed high-fat or high-calorie diets (57, 58, 59).
Interestingly, one study suggests that cocoa may prevent the action of enzymes necessary to break down fat and carbs during digestion (60).
In doing so, cocoa could theoretically play a role in preventing weight gain by reducing the absorption of some calories (60).
However, human studies examining the effects of cocoa, cacao or cacao products such as dark chocolate are rare. More studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made (61).
If you'd like to give cacao a try, opt for raw versions, as processing tends to reduce the amounts of beneficial compounds (62).
Bottom Line: Cacao may have certain metabolism-boosting properties, especially for those consuming high-calorie, high-fat diets.
Apple cider vinegar may increase your metabolism.
Several animal studies have shown vinegar to be particularly helpful in increasing the amount of fat burned for energy.
In one study, mice given vinegar experienced an increase in the AMPK enzyme, which prompts the body to decrease fat storage and increase fat burning (63).
Apple cider vinegar is often claimed to boost metabolism in humans, but few studies have investigated the matter directly.
One study in humans even showed that participants given four teaspoons (20 ml) of apple cider vinegar ate up to 275 fewer calories over the rest of the day (70).
If you'd like to give apple cider vinegar a try, be careful to limit your daily consumption to two tablespoons (30 ml).
Also, make sure to read this article to reduce the risk of negative side effects.
Bottom Line: More studies are needed to confirm apple cider vinegar's metabolism-boosting properties in humans. That being said, it may aid weight loss in other ways.
Coconut oil is experiencing a surge in popularity.
That may be partly because coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This is contrary to most other types of fats, which usually contain higher amounts of long-chain fatty acids.
Unlike long-chain fats, once MCTs are absorbed, they go directly to the liver to be turned into energy. This makes them less likely to be stored as fat.
Bottom Line: Replacing other fats with a small amount of coconut oil may boost your metabolism and help your body get rid of belly fat.
Drinking enough water is a great way to stay hydrated.
Researchers note that about 40% of that increase is explained by the additional calories needed to heat the water to body temperature (82).
Yet, the effects only seem to last for 60–90 minutes after drinking it and may vary from one person to another (83).
Bottom Line: Drinking water may temporarily increase your metabolism. However, effects are temporary and may vary between individuals.
Seaweed is a great source of iodine, a mineral required for the production of thyroid hormones and proper function of your thyroid gland (84).
Thyroid hormones have various functions, one of which is to regulate your metabolic rate (12).
Regularly consuming seaweed can help you meet your iodine needs and keep your metabolism running at a high rate.
The reference daily intake of iodine for adults is 150 mcg per day. This can be met by consuming several servings of seaweed per week.
Although, some types of seaweed such as kelp are extremely high in iodine and should not be consumed in large amounts.
Fucoxanthin is another compound found in some varieties of seaweed that may help with metabolism.
It's primarily found in brown seaweed varieties and may have anti-obesity effects by increasing the amount of calories you burn (85).
Bottom Line: Certain compounds in seaweed may help prevent your metabolism from slowing down.
Certain foods may help slightly increase your metabolism. Therefore, consuming them regularly may help you lose weight and keep it off in the long term.
However, foods are not the only way to boost your metabolism. Check out this article here for additional ways to help your body burn more calories each day.