Most people understand that metabolism refers to the rate at which your body converts the calories you consume into energy. Your metabolic rate changes depending on the level of activity you’re engaged in, but your basal metabolic rate—the number of calories you need to keep your body operating—stays fairly steady.
When someone is having trouble getting weight off or keeping it off, it might because their metabolic rate is slow. That can happen for a number of reasons including aging, which naturally slows metabolism. Activity level can also affect metabolism: even standing or walking burns more calories than simply sitting. Body composition is another determining factor. Fat burns fewer calories than lean muscle, and protein builds muscle. Nutritionists recommend that daily caloric intake should include 10 to 35 percent protein, and research has found that dieters that consume 25 to 30 percent of protein daily were able to lose more body fat while burning more calories while at rest.
Perhaps surprisingly, some fruits are also metabolism boosters. Filling, healthy, and naturally lower in calories, here are some of the best fruits to eat daily to give your metabolism a boost.
Apples. We’ve all heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, there’s some real truth to that. Apples are high in fiber and contain vitamin C and calcium D-glucarate, the latter of which helps to detoxify the liver. They also contain vitamin B, which helps your body turn protein, fat, and carbs into energy, and vitamin K, which metabolizes protein and keeps your blood flowing. Apples also contain the substance pectin; when pectin binds with water in your body, it limits the amount of fat the cells of your body can absorb. That can help reduce the amount of visceral fat (belly fat) your body has. Visceral fat is dangerous because it surrounds nearby organs and keeps them from working properly.
Berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries contain nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and up to 85 percent water. Although they contain natural sugars—so portion control is still important—they are low in calories. They also contain healthy doses of vitamin C, a natural metabolizer that also supports your immune system.
Citrus fruits. Like berries, grapefruit and oranges contain fat-burning vitamin C. They also contain fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer. And grapefruit has a very low glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar. However, grapefruit must be avoided with certain kinds of medications.
Melon. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew—these are naturally good for metabolism. Watermelon may even help with weight loss because it contains the amino acid arginine, which was found in a study of obese mice to reduce body fat gains by 64 percent. Melons also contain potassium, which helps create glycogen, a substance produced by the liver that helps burn calories in the body.
To get the most benefit out of these fruits, eat them fresh, rather than juiced. Juicing takes away the fiber and leaves all the sugars. And remember that even though these fruits are healthier than sweets made from processed sugars, an adult eating a 1,600-calorie-a-day diet needs only four servings, with servings equal to a whole fruit (such as an apple) or one-half cup fresh.