Your body’s metabolism can be quite tricky. It has ups and downs, but how fast it produces energy for you depends on the foods you fuel it with.
“Think of a fire—in order for it to start burning, you have to light it,” explains Amy GoodsonMS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian who specializes in overall health, wellness, and sports nutrition. You’ll want to keep adding “small amounts of wood every couple of hours to keep [to] it blazing. The same is true with your metabolism,” she says.
Essentially, the process of metabolism is your body’s ability to take the food you eat during the day and break it down into energy. The faster your metabolism works, the more calories you burn at rest and the more energy you can have to keep going 24 hours a day, Harvard Health explains.
Goodson recommends eating meals that are on the smaller side throughout the day and then a few well-rounded snacks here and there. Filling in the gaps of your day by picking up”nutrient-rich snacks containing fiber and protein helps keep the metabolism fire burning!” she says.
While everyone’s individual needs are going to vary, snacking can usually be kept to “One to two snacks daily [that are] under 200 calories each. Too many calories from snacks can ultimately lead to weight gain,” recommends Lisa R YoungPhD, RDN, CDNanother registered dietitian and internationally recognized nutritionist with expertise in portion control.
Once you figure out how to fuel your body with the right stuff at the right time, you have a better chance of re-programing your metabolism to work at top speed. Read on to find out six of the best snacks to help jumpstart your metabolism.
On afternoons when your dinner plans haven’t been solidified, having a little snack in the meantime can help speed up your metabolism in an easy and delicious way. Cheese and crackers can be a great in-between-meals snack, as the cheese contains high protein content to help hold you over until dinner time.
“Everyone needs a snack between lunch and dinner to help keep energy levels up and keep you from being as hungry at dinner,” Goodson says. But more importantly, she explains, your metabolism will thrive better if you “power your snacks with protein.” Snacks that have a good source of protein have a longer digestion timemeaning “you get full faster and stay full longer.”
Sometimes you just need to grab a snack that’s easy and readily available. The combination of a hard-boiled egg and a whole grain granola bar is simple, but it packs a lot of fiber and protein, which “revs that calorie burning system up,” according to Goodson.
Like cheese, eggs serve as another strong source of protein to help you increase your energy levels. However, the dietary fiber in a whole grain granola bar will support for slower absorption of carbohydrateswhich can force your metabolism to continue burning calories and pumping out energy to the body for a longer period of time.
When your body is running on fumes, your metabolism will slow down as an energy conservation tactic. This is why eating more snacks in between meals that are high in fiber is a great way to preserve the metabolism process so that it’s consistently working hard and as fast as it can.
Beef jerky doesn’t have to be reserved for a road trip or long car ride! In fact, Goodson recommends jerky as an “easy way to fuel your metabolism,” thanks to its high protein content. “In comparison to carbohydrates and fats, it takes the longest to break down,” she adds.
In addition to a few pieces of savory jerky, bananas can play apart in speeding up your body’s metabolism as well. The popular fruit is high in both potassium and fiberwhich can easily influence the body’s metabolism functionality. Some research attributes a lower overall body weight to a high fiber intake, due to the fact that people who eat more fiber foods feel more satisfied and tend to consume fewer calories as the nutrient takes time to digest and metabolize.
On the other hand, potassium has been compared to an “electrolyte,” which functions much like a carbohydrate in metabolism. After eating a banana, your body’s metabolism will work to convert the potassium into stored energy for the future.
If you eat breakfast early in the morning, a refreshing mid-morning snack can tide you over until lunch rolls around. “Not eating for many hours can slow down your metabolism,” Young says. Grabbing a bowl of yogurt with some toppings like fruit and nuts can help ensure you’re getting the energy you need.
The reason this is a great snack combo, according to Young, is because when combined, they offer an ideal blend of fiber, protein, and fat content. Greek yogurt is very protein-rich and many researchers have found that eating more protein can lead to burning more calories in a day.
Depending on your choice of fruits and nuts, you’ll be adding in a good amount of healthy fats and fibers to boost your metabolism. Since fruits—such as melons and berries—contain high amounts of fiber and antioxidants, in turn, they keep your metabolism moving along and give you a feeling of fullness. Likewise, nuts such as almonds and walnuts supply the body with healthy fats; when consumed in healthy proportions, they will fend off constant hunger cravings as the metabolism steadily works to break it down.
Apples and peanut butter are a snack combo made in heaven, offering a naturally sweet and refreshing crunch combined with a warm and savory creaminess.
Peanut butter has both healthy fats and protein, which will “prevent hunger and prevent your metabolism from dipping,” Young says. The reason apples are a great touch is that they carry a high supply of fiber to preserve good carbohydrate metabolism.
Some studies have also shown apples improve lipid metabolism, which is the body’s ability to convert fats into energy. By mixing apples and peanut butter, you will feel fuller longer, and encourage better digestion and distribution of energy from fats.
This is another easy post-lunch or pre-dinner party snack that can keep you satisfied. Like apples and peanut butter, hummus and fresh vegetables complement each other in a way that is especially beneficial if you’re trying to speed up your metabolism.
Hummus is full of ingredients that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, according to a study in Nutrients, and the dip has been seen to improve glucose metabolism. This is the process by which the body’s metabolism works faster to break down glucose into energy and preserve it in the liver until the body is absolutely in need of it.
When you combine hummus with fresh veggies—including bell peppers and broccoli—you’re mixing protein, fiber, and healthy fats, in addition to complex carbohydrates (healthier carbohydrates). Combining all of these nutrients will have your metabolism burning more calories and supplying the body with more energy. Carbs require your metabolism to speed upas it converts the nutrient into energy almost immediately, but then the healthy fats and proteins will force the metabolism to keep that speed for the longer period of time they take to break down in the body.