You exercise. You get plenty of sleep. You eat right—or so you think. Unfortunately, some foods and beverages may be slowing your metabolism—the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.
That means what you eat may be causing you to gain weight. And who wants that?
We're here with a list of some foods and beverages that can curb your metabolism. Just know that though something is on this list, that doesn't mean you must give it up. But you may consider consuming it in moderation, if your goal is to burn calories more quickly.
You may like the taste and texture of white bread better than wheat, but refined carb products such as white bread have had some healthy attributes like fiber and antioxidants removed during processing. You're left with bread pretty low in nutritional quality. So, ditch those refined carbs—white bread, pasta and rice. Instead, aim for complex carbs like whole-grain bread, pasta and rice, plus fruit, veggies and beans. They boast fiber, which has been shown to help increase your fat burn, help prevent weight gain and rev up your metabolism. Plus, these complex carbs keep your blood sugar stabilized longer and help you feel full longer. Here's how to eat more whole grains.
When you have an alcoholic beverage, you burn less fat and do so more slowly than usual. That's because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Alcohol is also full of empty calories. And it can irritate your gastrointestinal tract, which can damage your body's ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients over the long term. So, hopefully, we've convinced you to pass on that second cocktail.
Low-calorie frozen meals
Yes, you can easily tote a frozen meal in your work bag and nuke it on your lunch break. But instead of helping you lose weight, regularly eating this type of meal can slow your metabolism. That's because you need a certain number of calories throughout the day just to keep your metabolism going. Plus, frozen foods are typically full of sodium and lack fiber. Don't want to give up those convenient frozen meals? Add in some chickpeas, dried peas, beans or lentils. That way you get filling protein and fiber. Throw in some veggies for a healthy and hydrating addition.
Drinking too many sugar- and chemical-filled fruit juices can wreck your metabolism. They may sound healthy, but many fruit juices are made with sugar, food coloring and flavorings. Instead of sipping on fruit juice, grab some good old-fashioned water. If you must have something with flavor, add some lemon or lime to plain or sparkling water or try kombucha, a low-calorie fermented sweet tea. Read about Healthy Fruits You Should Be Eating and Best Fruits for Weight Loss.
If you don't like how your food tastes or it's tasteless, you'll likely turn to unhealthy fare to fill your belly—and those can slow your metabolism. So, add some spices to your dish to hike its flavor content. Plus, many herbs and spices can even boost your metabolism, including cayenne and black pepper, turmeric, cumin, ginger and garlic. Whip up this Cumin Sweet Potato Soup. The ground red pepper and cumin may excite your palate and kick up your metabolism.
The bubbly beverage boasts high-fructose corn syrup. This sweetener, found in many processed foods and soft drinks, can cause metabolic syndrome, the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Plus, it may lead to obesity thanks to its negative effects on metabolism. So, drinking a glass of soda can directly harm your metabolism.
Those Munchkins may be calling your name—but ignore them. They're loaded with fat and refined carbs and sugar, which slow metabolism. Plus, they can sit on store shelves for a while thanks to their preservatives, which make them still taste OK and not spoil, but can also mess with your digestion.
Trans fats—which raise your bad (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and lower your good (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol—are found in stick margarines and some baked goods. Trans fats can lead to insulin resistance, which is when cells have trouble absorbing glucose, causing a buildup of sugar in the blood. Insulin resistance leads to slower metabolism and weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Also, a diet of trans fats increases your risk of heart disease. Find out more about Healthy Fats You Should Be Eating.
Conventionally farmed beef has more antibiotics than grass-fed beef. Those antibiotics negatively impact the good bacteria in your gut, which can affect the way you process food. Opt for grass-fed meat as much as possible. It's typically lower in fat and contains good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Look for lean cuts like the eye of a round roast or steak, sirloin tip, top sirloin steak and top or bottom round roast. This Korean Beef Broccoli can be made with top sirloin, and the garlic and red and black pepper may give your metabolism an extra boost.