We all have a few happy friends who can eat whatever they want – even pizza and seconds of chocolate cake – and never seem to earn a gram. And they don’t even play sports. Ah!
These few lucky ones are probably born with a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR) than the rest of us. Your BMR, also known as yours rest metabolic rate is the energy your body requires to pump blood into your body, to breathe, to maintain tissues such as muscles, and to regulate temperature. BMR represents about 60 to 70% of your energy expenditure. But there are two other parts to the picture of metabolism: your daily physical activity or exercises called thermogenesis activityand on thermal effect food (TEF), ie the calories used to absorb food and convert it into energy.
A study published in 2021 found that our BMR remained relatively constant from 20 to 60 years and then began to slow with age. So, you can’t do much to change your BMR (although adding muscle through strength training can help because muscle mass burns more calories than fat).
While our BMR is almost constant, you are I can temporarily affect your thermal effect on food metabolism depending on the type of food you eat, as some foods require more calories to be converted into energy than other foods. Foods high in protein, for example, have a high thermal effect, which means that it requires your body to work harder to absorb them, speeding up your metabolism. At the same time, there are foods that do not trigger this fat burning oven and can actually damage your metabolism. And these worst foods to eat, if you want a higher-speed metabolism, are made up of simple sugars without any fiber, such as white bread.
How foods high in simple sugars affect your metabolism
The best foods to boost your metabolism are those that take longer to digest and make you feel satisfied, while the worst foods for your metabolism are those that are quickly converted to glucose.
The tool you can use to measure how long a carbohydrate-containing food takes to digest and convert to glucose is called the glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index take less time to digest, so it quickly raises your blood glucose levels.
These simple carbohydrates – such as sweets, soda and sweet desserts – give your body a quick burst of energy because they break down quickly, but then, just as quickly, you will feel lethargic and hungry. They tend to make you angry and encourage overeating, so foods with a high GI are associated with weight gain. Conversely, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, which have a low GI, tend to contribute to weight loss because they take longer to digest and require more calories to do so.
A 2010 study in the journal Food and nutrition research illustrates the difference by measuring the energy expenditure after a meal in the six hours after the subjects ate either processed food (a sandwich with melted cheese on white bread) or a “whole food” sandwich made with cheddar cheese on multigrain bread.
Comparing the measurements of the two dishes, the researchers found that subjects needed significantly more energy to absorb the whole food sandwich than the processed sandwich, and concluded that processed ingredients, especially white flour, reduced metabolism by 50%. Another study, this in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a high glycemic index diet encouraged overeating, weight gain and body fat, and greater waist circumference in a sample of 191 Danish women.
White bread is especially harmful to your metabolism
“White flour has all the healthiest parts of wheat, such as fiber and nutrients removed,” says a registered nutritionist. Lisa Moskowitz, RD, CDN, CEO of NY Nutrition Group. Removing fiber makes white bread easy and quick to digest, so your metabolism doesn’t have to run faster and burn more calories to break it down, she says.
So, perhaps, the worst foods to eat, if you want a higher-speed metabolism, are those made up of simple sugars without any fiber. White bread may be the symbol of those foods that slow down the metabolism, with a glycemic index of about 75, simply because we Americans eat so much of it. Foods are ranked in the GI on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose receiving 100. Some cold grains rank even higher than white bread at about 81 on the scale. Other high-GI foods that slow down the metabolism include muesli, white rice, spaghetti, cookies, cakes, pastries, soda, almost anything that is refined and highly processed.
Increasing your metabolism at rest is difficult to do, but in the short term you can increase your fat burning metabolism by doing more exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, divided into short intervals.
An even easier way is to avoid the worst foods for your metabolism and choose the best ones – foods high in protein (lean meat, fish and Greek yogurt) and fiber such as beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Fiber with these 17 delicious recipes involving a simple box of beans.
Jeff Chatari, a contributor to Eat This, Not That !, is responsible for editing books and magazines for galvanized media and advising journalism students through the Zinczenko Center for New Media at Moravian University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Read more