By Ashley Koff, RDAuthor of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged
When it comes to “metabolic boosting,” there are a lot of promises being made out there that may not deliver. However, there are certain foods and nutrients that do play key roles in enabling the body to burn a little faster. When combined with a quality diet and active lifestyle, these nutrients may help get your (cellular) engines humming along at a faster clip.
Organic Raw Cacao
“Cacao” looks like “cocoa” because it is actually the starter ingredient for all chocolate. Cacao is a fruit that grows on a tree, and inside this fruit are pods (think of kidney-bean size and shape) full of cacao nibs. These nibs contain lots of nutritional goodness but are actually bitter in taste (just like a 85-100% cocoa bar would be). Raw cacao is a super-rich source of magnesium which helps our metabolism by reducing the negative impact of stress on our bodies. Magnesium is Mother Nature’s muscle relaxant, and, by turning down our fight-or-flight response, it keeps things like our cortisol levels in check and our digestive system working great. Also, cacao contains theobromine and anandamide – theobromine is a natural stimulant and anandamide is an endorphin (think “runner’s high” or a feeling of bliss). Together, these nutrients stimulate the body internally to get your engines revving for more metabolic burn. You can consume raw cacao in bars, in powder form or as nibs. Add it to smoothies, trail mixes, salads, or just grab a handful – about 1-2 tablespoons daily.
It’s not black tea or green tea, but the combo of the two that gives this tea its metabolic benefits. You get the power of the caffeine and antioxidants, which have been shown to increase post-drinking caloric burn by about 5% for an hour. If you consume 2000 calories daily, that could be about 100 calories of extra burn. Equally exciting is that oolong actually inhibits the absorption of some fat consumed at meals (it’s not a “fat blocker” though so you don’t have to worry about healthy nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins not making it into your system). Less fat absorbed and less triglycerides made means a healthier waistline and healthier cholesterol levels.
Dr. Oz and I agree that most of the supplements that promise a metabolic boost can be quite expensive and not effective. That said, GTF chromium can be an effective tool for enabling optimal metabolism. GTF chromium works to make sure your system is running as efficiently as possible. It enables your cells to receive sugar from the blood (with the help of insulin) at a regular pace so that they stay well fueled to function optimally, also preventing elevated blood sugar levels. You can take 200 mcg of GTF chromium daily, ideally with food. Look for quality brands that don’t add other binders and are not genetically modified.
Adding one or all of these nutrients into your diet can help improve your body’s metabolic burn. But keep in mind that good sleep, regular efforts at stress management (relaxation and breathing), routine activity and quality eating create the foundation for a healthy metabolism.