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Keeping your metabolism fired up can be challenging. Your diet needs to be on point, and although cutting calories will create the deficit needed to tap into fat as fuel, it’s not that simple. If your diet is composed of processed, energy-poor foods, your return on investment could be a physique that’s soft and flabby instead of hard and ripped. Eating energy-dense foods that pack in the right nutrients can help turn up the heat on your metabolism and your body’s fat-burning ability!
Spinach is one of the most alkaline foods on the planet. Consuming alkaline foods helps maintain acid-base balance in the body, which is essential for fat loss. If you don’t maintain acid-base balance and your body is constantly in an acidic state, your metabolic rate can suffer over time. By regularly including foods such as spinach in your diet, you’ll improve not only your metabolism but also your overall health!
Fatty Fish (Salmon, Trout, etc.)
A staple of most “clean eating” diets, fish not only contains muscle building protein but also can put a halt to your hunger cravings. Simply eating more fish has been shown to help regulate the hunger hormone leptin. Increases in leptin induce hunger, while decreases in leptin reduce hunger and help upregulate metabolism, keeping fat oxidation (aka fat burning) active.
Chili peppers can help spice up bland foods such as chicken and rice and also provide a fat-burning advantage by suppressing appetite and increasing metabolic rate, due to its active component, capsaicin. This compound activates brown adipose tissue (BAT), resulting in the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine. When norepinephrine is released, it signals a cascade pathway and binds to beta-receptors located in fat tissue. This then stimulates cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and allows fat burning to remain “turned on” for longer. Hot sauce, hot chili flakes, or any hot pepper on food or recipes can help make your meals more metabolic.
Sweet Red Peppers
Sweet red pepper extract is a non-pungent cultivar of red pepper that contains three known capsaicinoid-like substances that can affect fat loss: capsiate, dihydrocapsiate, and nordihydrocapsiate. Sweet red pepper extract has been studied in humans and proven to increase core body temperature by stimulating the vanilloid receptors, induce heat loss and heat production, and dissipate food as energy. In addition, sweet red pepper extract has also been shown to increase oxygen consumption, uncoupling proteins 1 and 2 (UCP1 and UCP2), and gene transcription of UCP2 mRNA in fat tissue—all of which are technical terms for “more fat burning.”
Grapefruit is a good source of fibre and vitamin C and it can boost fat loss too! A compound found in grapefruit called naringin is responsible for most of the fruit’s fat-burning properties. Naringin is a flavonoid, and it can support fat loss by stimulating the liver, improving insulin sensitivity, and boosting fat mobilization. In fact, naringin actually stimulates the liver to produce fat-burning enzymes that are usually only produced during a fasted state.
Tea and Coffee
Both these beverages contain a well-known metabolic and energetic compound that you’re more than likely already familiar with—caffeine. Caffeine can have a synergistic effect with two other compounds found in tea and coffee. Tea, specifically green tea, contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), while coffee contains chlorogenic acid. EGCG has been shown in multiple human studies to increase 24-hour energy expenditure and metabolic rate. In one study, a green tea beverage containing 625 milligrams of catechins with 39 milligrams of caffeine given to overweight individuals resulted in greater loss of body weight—particularly greater abdominal fat—than those who just received a caffeine supplement. As for chlorogenic acid, it has been shown to help reduce spikes in blood glucose and subsequently insulin release following meal consumption. What’s even more intriguing is that chlorogenic acids seem to have the ability to help regulate where glucose goes, and as we all know, glucose uptake into muscles is favourable over fat storage.
Hemp is considered the best of all the plant-based proteins because it’s a complete protein source, which means it contains all the essential amino acids your body requires. Hemp is also a superfood and a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are extremely important for health and fat loss. EFAs work to fight fat through a variety of mechanisms; they can help enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce the amount of circulating glucose in the bloodstream. This helps decrease the amount of glucose that ends up being stored as fat in the body. Consumption of hemp can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and even reduce inflammation.
Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower and Kale
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a natural compound formed during the breakdown of plants and the digestion of indole-3-carbinol from the Brassica genus of plants. Some of the vegetables of this genus include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. DIM is used for various reasons, but its main mechanism of action is on the metabolism of the estrogen hormone. Estrogen is broken down into various metabolites, each of which has a different effect in the body. The “good” estrogen metabolites (2-hydroxy and 2-methoxy estrogens), work to promote fat loss, boost the fight against certain types of hormonal-related cancers (breast, uterus, and prostate), provide healthy energy levels, support healthy libido, and increase overall well-being. The “bad” estrogen metabolites (16-hydroxy) are related to low energy levels, mood swings, and excess fat gains. DIM can increase the levels of the good estrogen metabolites and decrease the levels of the bad ones. DIM even helps regulate estrogen in a way that will allow users to tap into estrogenic fat accumulation and increase post-exercise fat loss.
For another article about how to 'Fuel the Anabolic Furnace', and ultimate fat loss, click here!