Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, is the director of nutrition for Calorie Count, providing domain expertise on issues related to nutrition, weight loss and health. She creates original content for weekly blogs and newsletters, for the Calorie Count library, and for her popular daily Question-and-Answer section, Ask Mary. Ms. Hartley also furnishes direction for the site features and for product development.
Calorie Count members want to know about specific foods that affect metabolic rate (the speed at which the body uses calories for fuel.) Here are two of the readers’ favorite “Ask Mary Q+As” about metabolism and food.
Ask Mary: Which foods boost metabolism?
A few specific foods and beverages have been shown to boost metabolism in research studies. They are hot red pepper (capsaicin), grapefruit, green tea, coffee and other caffeinated foods, and even water. But keep in mind that the increased metabolism these foods provide is too small to really be meaningful. Newer understanding of the hormones that regulate feeding and appetite control show that “lifestyle factors” such as exercise and sleep influence metabolism above and beyond the actual number of calories they may save or burn. These include (but aren’t limited to) weight training to build muscle, exercising aerobically for 30 minutes or more on most days, sleeping for 8-hours at night, and eating regular well-spaced meals.
Ask Mary: Will acąi berries raise my metabolism?
The distributors of acąi (ah SAH ee) berries claim they speed up your metabolism to help you burn fat and lose weight, but don’t count on it, because those claims have not been scientifically tested and verified. Even so, the acai berry is a highly-nutritious food full of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, vitamins A, E and thiamin, and lots of trace minerals. Acąi is used as an ingredient in juices, energy bars, ice cream, and supplements. The berries, which are dark purple and about the size of a grape with less pulp, are produced by a palm tree that grows in the floodplains of the Amazon River and, as a result, they are rare and expensive. Luckily, the nutritional benefits of acąi berries can be derived from other foods as part of a balanced diet.
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