Metabolism is the ability of the body’s cells to properly use oxygen and food. that enter the body in order to produce energy,” explains Carlos Jaramillo, a doctor who is an expert in Nutrition at the University of La Sabana (Colombia) and author of the book “The metabolic miracle” (Planet Ed.).

To explain this organic process, Dr. Jaramillo talks about the “metabolism movie” in which a series of “main stars” participate: hormones such as insulin, leptin and cortisol; uric acid, fat, brain, blood and certain organs (stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines). “All these ‘actors‘ must have harmonious functioning, and The main way to provide them with this harmony is through food.”.

The “miracle” of a balanced diet and exercise

However, when it comes to applying the simplified formula of the metabolic process (“fast metabolism = more calories burned”), one thing must be very clear: “There are no foods that, by themselves, directly accelerate the metabolism in a significant way,” comment to CuidatePlus Leyre López-Iranzu, nutritionist at the FEMM Clinic. “What is true is that A balanced diet rich in nutrients can promote a healthy metabolism. Additionally, maintaining adequate hydration and consuming foods rich in fiber can help regulate metabolism and maintain stable energy levels.”

This evidence can also be applied to so-called supplements fat burnersince as explained Belen Fontanspecialist in Dietetics and Nutrition at the Ruber Juan Bravo Hospital, in Madrid, “it cannot be considered that a supplement can, on its own, burn fat and modify our body composition, but rather To achieve these effects, a caloric deficit must occur”.

“And the basis for burning fat and achieving that caloric deficit – continues Dr. Fontán – lies in diet, training and physical activity and rest. Once these three variables are organized, we could help ourselves with some supplements, well because they produce satiety and reduce appetite; because they increase caloric expenditure or because they reduce the absorption of fat in the diet.”

‘Entertainers’ of the metabolic process

Taking all of the above into account, there are a series of nutrients and foods that, in addition to ensuring the optimal functioning of the metabolism, have shown that they can be particularly effective in enhancing it and speed it up:

1. Proteins

“Proteins require more energy to be digested than carbohydrates or fats, so its intake may slightly increase energy expenditure”says Leyre López-Iranzu. The best options in this sense are proteins of animal origin, especially white meat (chicken, turkey) and fish (especially blue ones, rich in healthy fats such as Omega 3).

In this sense, the research Along these lines, they have shown that protein-rich diets have a proven effect on reducing body fat due to a series of mechanisms that they activate in the body, including: increasing the thermic effect of foodthat is, the energy consumed that the body needs to carry out the digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

2. Strawberries + berries

In his book, Dr. Jaramillo places fruits in the category of essential foods, and specifically to promote metabolic function, recommends opting for those with more fiber content and lower glycemic load (amount of sugar per cm that foods contain). The one that best meets both requirements is strawberries (2 g of fiber per 100 g), followed by raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

3. Collard greens, kale and other brassicas

All vegetables “favour” optimal metabolism functioning, but among them the brassica group stands out especially, to which they belong, among others, collard greens, cauliflower, turnip, cabbage, arugula and kale. They have high levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin A; folic acid, soluble fiber, and lignin, in addition to a high content of many minerals. Research has shown that all this nutritional contribution has, among others, a positive effect on reducing inflammation and modulating metabolism.

One of the most “famous” brassicas is broccoli, which, according to recent evidence, can play a particularly beneficial role in cases of overweight and obesity associated with menopause. Specifically, it has been seen that Broccoli sprouts are an excellent dietary source of glucoraphanin/sulforaphanesubstances that have a positive effect on cholesterol metabolism and also on the accumulation of fat and inflammation that occur in obese and overweight people.

4. Coffee

The action of caffeine on the metabolism has been known for a long time. According to Belén Fontán, when this substance intervenes in energy systems, manages to increase basal metabolism, which translates into a greater daily kcal consumption and allows more flexibility when losing fat. The specialist details when and in what context this effect should be taken advantage of: “In people who have a well-planned workout and are looking to improve their physical condition or reduce their fat mass, caffeine can be a good ally, as long as it is tolerated. well, and the style of eating, exercise and rest are appropriate.”

5. Green tea

Along the same lines is the action of green tea which, as Dr. Fontán points out, in addition to caffeine, contains catechins, which help to better control plasma glucose, improve fat oxidation and increase satietyalso improving metabolism, especially in those people who are on low-calorie diets.

6. Spinach

In addition to being rich in fiber, its great “trick” in relation to metabolism is its high magnesium content (79 mg/100 g of food), one of the minerals most involved in metabolic processes. As explained from the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center (MIC) (USA), among the more than 300 metabolic reactions in which magnesium is involved, it stands out energy production. Specifically, the chemical reactions in the body that depend on this mineral are essential for the production of energy from the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Likewise, ATP (a molecule that provides energy to almost all metabolic processes in the body) is mainly found in a chemical substance associated with magnesium (MgATP).

7. Mustard

It has two “metabolic virtues” to highlight: the plant from which it comes belongs to the genus brassicae and is especially rich in magnesium. To this we must add its phosphorus content, a mineral that contributes to the correct metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and body fats. Studies such as the one carried out in the Center for Nutrition and Health at Oxford Brookes University (United Kingdom) have shown that consuming about five kcal of mustard (the equivalent of a teaspoon) can speed up metabolism by up to 25 percent during the hours after ingestion.

8. Avocado, olive oil…. ‘good’ fats

Dr. Jaramillo lists foods rich in healthy fats that should be present in the usual diet to, among many other benefits, optimize metabolic function: olive oil, avocado, nuts (walnuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, almonds); seeds (chia, sunflower, flaxseed, sesame): oily fish (salmon, trout); cocoa and pine nuts.

“It has been shown that diets rich in healthy fats are highly protective of the metabolism, since, among other functions, They make it easier for the body to use accumulated fat as its main source of energy.”, points out the specialist in his book.

9. Eggs

According to Carlos Jaramillo, from the point of view of the functioning of the metabolism, the egg is “two in one”. On the one hand, for its proteins, considered “high quality”, since they contain all the essential amino acids, guarantors of optimal metabolic functions. On the other hand, because of its fats, among which oleic acid stands out (which it shares with olive oil). In addition, the yolk is the main source of phospholipids, components of cell membranes that are decisive in significantly satisfying the body’s needs for two acids that it cannot synthesize on its own: linolenic acid and linoleic acid. Especially in the case of the latter, some studies point to its potential effect on increasing caloric expenditure and reducing fat absorption, although more conclusive data are needed.

10. Seafood

In addition to proteins, it is rich in two minerals directly related to metabolism: zinc and selenium. “Both are important for metabolic function because They help the synthesis of enzymes that are key to metabolizing nutrients, as well as for the regulation of the immune system and protection against oxidative stress. For all these reasons, foods rich in zinc and selenium contribute to having a healthy metabolism,” explains Leyre López-Iranzu.

Metabolic ‘pro-speed’ routines

Leyre López-Iranzu summarizes the most recommended nutritional and lifestyle guidelines to have a metabolism “at full capacity”:

  • Consume a balanced and varied dietincluding lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep well hydrated through adequate water intake.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
  • Carry out regular physical activityincluding resistance and cardiovascular exercises.
  • Get enough sleep and maintain good sleep patterns.
  • Reduce stress through relaxation techniqueslike yoga and meditation.

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