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What to Eat to Speed Up Metabolism and Burn Fat

by | Nutrition

May 23, 2022

Your weight, food, and metabolism define you in a lot of ways, and with the right food selection, you can really speed up your metabolism.

We all need the energy to do even the simplest stuff, let alone the complex ones. It takes energy to think, raise your arm, place your feet on the ground and walk, speak, and, surprisingly, to even fall asleep. This is why we eat and drink.

Good food contains the necessary nutritional substances that provide the body energy and maintain bodily functions.

Food substances are grouped into five classes: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils, vitamins, and water. Each plays an important role. And without them, we would grow weak and sick and might even die of starvation.

When we ingest food, the energy stored in our food is usually in a form the body cannot immediately make use of. This means that, for the energy in food to be released, the digestive system must digest most ingested food substances. And then break them down by body cells and tissues to release energy.

The process of breaking down food substances by body cells to release the energy in them, simply put, is called metabolism. (1).

Calories and Metabolism

Different food substances are metabolized differently; you should note, and at different rates, too, because not all food substances contain the same amount of energy. And, they definitely do not contain the same form of energy.

The unit of how much energy is stored in particular food substances, the amount of energy this substance can supply the body, is called a calorie.

Food substances and drinks with high calories contain a lot of energy compared to others with lower calories and are broken down (metabolized) even faster.

For example, a pack of pizza contains more energy than a plate of vegetables even though they are both food substances!

If you eat a pack of pizza (or any other high-calorie food), let’s say, in the morning before leaving for work or school, you most probably would feel energetic throughout that morning.

You might not even feel the need to eat any more food until the afternoon! This is because the calories in pizza are a lot, and it takes some more time for your body to break down this energy and make use of it. Substances with high calories, like pizza, for example, are called high-calorie foods.

In contrast to eating pizza, if you eat a plate of freshly cooked vegetables before leaving for work, you might feel hungry faster than you usually would. You might even resort to taking snacks to keep up with your bodily energy requirements.

The reason for this is that vegetables contain lesser calories than pizza, and it is easy for your body to break down these calories and use them up. Food substances with low calories are called low-calorie foods.

High-Calorie Foods. Good or Bad?

Generally, high-calorie foods are slower to metabolize. (2) While it is sometimes a good thing to take in high-calorie foods, seeing that you would be energetic for more extended periods, it is sometimes a bad idea to do so. Especially if you don’t use up a lot of energy by means of metabolism, if you do not move around a lot, or if you sit in an office all day or lie in bed too often.

I’d explain why.

Think of what would happen if one keeps pouring water into a bottle with no leaks. At some point, when the bottle can no longer contain any more water, they’d be overflowing, and a bulk of the water that still comes in is going to go to waste.

Unlike the bottle that allows water to be spilled, our bodies almost never waste energy when healthy. Almost all unused energy in the food we ingest is stored in cells and tissues for further use.


So, if you eat a lot of high-calorie foods whose energy your body cannot metabolize and use up immediately, your body stores the left-over energy until when it is needed.

If it is ever needed, that is. It most probably wouldn’t be required for re-uptake, trust me, if you keep eating more high-calorie foods.

On the contrary, there is going to be a build-up of stored calories. Please note that unused calories are stored as fat. Yes. Fat. So, the more unused calories you end up having, the more fat your body would be accumulating.

Fat is stored in special tissues called adipose tissues. Adipose tissues are scattered throughout the body but are mostly found underneath skin and between muscles.

For this reason, people seem to grow fatter when they begin to take in high-calorie food they don’t use up completely.

Do you want to gain weight? Then it will be best if you take in a lot of high-calorie foods. But, please, watch that you don’t gain too much weight and you become unhealthy.

Do you want to lose weight? Then, please, avoid high-calorie foods. Instead, only take foods with low calories—foods that can increase your metabolism.

What Happens If You Speed Up Metabolism?

A lot happens when your body begins to use up more and more energy at a faster pace. This could be due to a change in diet or due to activity or exercise. When you exercise and engage in activities that require large amounts of energy, your metabolism rate increases.

Some of the changes that occur when this happens include:

  • If you are overweight, you start to lose weight and take shape: when your body uses more and more energy, you see, it turns to its fat reservoirs and starts to empty them. So, you would lose fat, and thus, weight. As stated earlier, if you are overweight, you just might want to start taking in food substances that would increase your body’s metabolic rate.
  • It’s been found that your blood sugar level decreases for about 24 hours after exercise. This is due to the fact that when you exercise, metabolism is sped up, so blood glucose would have to be used up to maintain bodily functions. Please, do not exercise too often if you present symptoms of hypoglycemia. (3).
  • Your blood vessels show a better health state because there is no fat obstructing the flow of blood. That being said, What foods contain fewer calories and speed up metabolism?

Foods That Speed Up Metabolism and Burn Fat

1. Proteinous Foods

Foods that contain a higher protein content compared to others are called proteinous foods. They include meat, fish, eggs, etc. Proteinous foods are obtained from animal sources. They speed up metabolism and may help the body keep its muscle mass during weight loss. Thus, proteinous foods are good for both preserving weight and losing weight. (4).

2. Pepper

The same way it burns our tongues, chili pepper is believed to help our body cells burn more calories, even though only slightly. Chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin. It is believed that the capsaicin content of chili peppers makes them capable of helping our bodies use up more calories. (5).

3. Iron and Zinc

Iron isn’t only necessary in the body for the formation of hemoglobin. It is also necessary for metabolism to take place. The thyroid gland is a gland in the neck that produces certain hormones that help the body break down substances. For the thyroid gland to function optimally, iron is necessary. (6). 

Through research, it’s been found that the thyroid gland fails to function the way it should whenever there is an iron deficiency. Thus, metabolism reduces.

4. Caffeine

Coffee is capable of increasing the metabolic rate by more than ten percent. This is because of the ability of caffeine present in coffee to induce alertness and increase the awake time. Coffee drinkers use up more calories than non-coffee drinkers, for sure. 

So, coffee should be your go-to guy if you plan to use up more calories. Note, however, that effects vary based on physiological differences between persons.

5. Water

Drinking enough water is necessary to stay hydrated and productive. However, it seems that drinking a lot of water is capable of increasing metabolism by around twenty to thirty percent.


Researchers believe that this is due to the fact that water must be heated up to body temperature when it is drunk.

The energy needed for this heating to take place must be gotten from breaking down other substances, thus increasing metabolism. However, the effects of water on metabolism do not last for long. It only lasts for a couple of hours.


– Energy is stored in food substances. This energy is called calories.

– The process of breaking down food substances to release and use up the energy present in them is called metabolism.

– Different food substances contain different amounts of calories. The higher the calorie a substance contains, the slower it would be broken down and the higher the likelihood that it would be stored.

– The body stores unused calories as fat. And one might experience weight gain when he begins to take in a lot of high-calorie foods.

-When the body’s metabolic rate is high, energy is used up more, and some of the changes presented are weight loss, drop in sugar level, and better blood circulation.

– Some foods that can speed or increase metabolism include protein, caffeine, chili peppers, and water.

Photo by LYFE Fuel on Unsplash

By Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.


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