6 Foods to Make Your Metabolism Work for You

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 18:10

Processed foods filled with chemicals and calories are not going to help you reach your weight-loss goals. Fitness and health expert Jillian Michaels outlines the 5 power nutrients you should include in your daily diet.

Who has time to cook these days? Our fast-paced lives has made many of us resort to drive-thru's, frozen dinners, and other processed foods that offer our bodies very little nutritional value. While you may not be able to promise me you'll start preparing home-cooked meals daily, (even I don’t do that), you can certainly start making an effort to eliminate all of those unhealthy foods from your diet and replace them with some of the following five power nutrients. Not only are they healthy and nutritious, but they'll also stimulate your metabolism by triggering your fat-loss hormones.


"Resistant" starch — a key starch in beans— known as resistant starch, repairs the lining of your intestine to help you fight inflammation, cancer, and harmful bacteria; in addition, it's been shown to help lower insulin levels. The hefty fiber content of beans also helps you feel fuller, and store less fat, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, and improves insulin sensitivity.

The B vitamins and zinc in beans boost testosterone, which is a good thing! Testosterone helps to increase our energy and build more calorie-burning muscle.

Don't know beans about beans? Here are a few key facts:

Dried beans are better for you than canned beans, plus you avoid concerns about possible BPA in the lining of the cans. Soak them for six to eight hours in room temperature water, then drain before cooking. Look for no-salt varieties.

Rinse thoroughly before cooking — especially if you end up using canned.


Garlic and other foods in the allium family (onions, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions) work to stimulate the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that is especially important in the liver, where it helps remove hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Alliums also lower total cholesterol while raising the level of HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind). Preliminary research suggests that garlic may boost testosterone, giving you more energy, while onions have anthocyanins, effective free-radical destroyers that might also help combat obesity and diabetes. Crushing, chopping, or chewing garlic helps release enzymes that trigger many of its beneficial actions.

How to fit garlic into your diet:

Pair garlic with olive oil to release even more disease-fighting compounds. Let chopped garlic stand for ten minutes before cooking; this will allow the enzymes to be activated. Add garlic to homemade salad dressings, marinades, soups and sauteed vegetables for a flavor kick.

Berries: Raspberries and Strawberries

If you really need an excuse to indulge in these delicious berries, then I've got a couple. These juicy red berries contain anthocyanins, which some studies have found stop individual fat cells from getting larger, while also encouraging them to release adiponectin, a hormone that helps reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, and reverse leptin and insulin resistance. Certain polyphenols found in raspberries and strawberries block the digestive enzyme activity of specific starches and fats, reducing your body's absorption of them.

All these great metabolism-boosting qualities make these berries serious power foods. Add strawberries to a yogurt or cup of cottage cheese for breakfast, cut some up for a dessert, or mix them into a smoothie.

What you need to know about berries:

Always purchase organic berries and rinse them well before eating. Fresh berries — and frozen ones in the off seasons — berries are best. You'll lose all the awesome anthocyanins when you eat berries in processed foods.


Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage pack serious nutritional power in just a few calories per bite. They have high water and fiber content; this combination helps you feel full AND increases your body's ability to burn fat by as much as 30 percent. Plus, studies have consistently shown that people who eat the most fiber gain the LEAST amount of weight and these veggies are a great fiber source.

Other helpful hints for cooking:

Always cook cruciferous vegetables before serving them — even if you are serving them cold, like in a veggie dip. By cooking broccoli in the microwave, you'll preserve 90 percent of the vitamin C, versus 66 percent with boiling. Don't overcook cruciferous veggies, they will lose their nutritional power — and flavor!.

Whole Grains

Stop thinking that carbs are the enemy. Whole grains like oats and barley have great nutritional value and can even help control your appetite. The short-chain fatty acids from whole grains help us eat less because they stimulate fat cells in our stomachs to release leptin, the satiety (or "I'm full") hormone. The high levels of fiber in whole grains also help us feel full by slowing blood-sugar release and steadying insulin levels. The trick is to eat grains that are truly whole — no refined carbs like white bread.

Other tips about whole grains:

Go organic. Most people don’t actually have an issue with gluten unless they are celiac, but they still feel as though “gluten” is making them sick.  Often it’s the fact that those grains are genetically engineered and heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.  So to eliminate all of the above, go organic with your grains. If you're buying a processed whole-grain product, look at the list of ingredients — whole grain should be the first one listed. Sprouted breads, such as Ezekiel, are dense and packed with nutrients. Oatmeal is a perfect breakfast because it keeps your blood sugar stable longer than many other foods.

Organic Coffee and Tea

When caffeine is abused, it damages your metabolism and hormone balance. On the other hand, caffeine, when used correctly, can be an excellent energy and metabolism boost. When you overdose on it, it taxes your adrenal glands, stressing you out, leaving you tired and run down. The key with caffeine is to not consume more than 400 mg in a day. That's the equivalent to two strong cups of coffee. Limit yourself to one or two caffeinated beverages a day, and drink one extra glass of water for each caffeinated beverage you consume. And of course, go organic whenever possible. Coffee is the second heaviest sprayed crop in the world when it comes to chemicals – second only to cotton. And cold brew’s are less acidic than hot. So check out an organic cold brew before your workout and prepare to kick some butt. Lucky Jack is a great brand. I loved it so much I invested in it.