The holiday season usually calls for satisfying, comfort foods. Whether it is a food-filled family gathering or a cold, winter day, most of us just yearn for a bowl of velvety macaroni and cheese, starchy soups or creamy chicken pot pie.
While these high-calorie foods hold a special place in our hearts, sometimes it’s nice to indulge in foods that actually help our bodies.
To help balance your diet throughout the holiday season, it’s essential to eat foods that enhance your metabolism, which helps burn calories. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals are usually good indications that they can help stroke your metabolism.
Munch on the following five metabolism-boosting foods that are delicious and nutritious, and will help keep your tummy in check this holiday season.
To help speed up your metabolism, it’s important to exercise and fill up on protein-rich foods. According to WebMD, your body burns “twice as many calories digesting high-protein foods as it does foods that are high in carbs or fat” because high-protein foods require extra energy to digest and metabolize—which in turn helps accelerate your metabolism.
Eggs are an ideal protein-packed, metabolism-boosting food. Even though we’ve all been told that we shouldn’t indulge in these breakfast delights, according to Authority Nutrition, eggs actually raise good HDL cholesterol.
Eggs are also probably one of the easiest foods to cook, as well. You can scramble, hard-boil, poach, bake and even grill eggs. So, go ahead and have two eggs for breakfast. You’re doing your metabolism a favor.
Salmon, tuna or halibut are all tasty metabolism-boosting foods. According to Self, fish fats keep your heart healthy and help “shrink your waist,” as well.
“Omega-3 fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity—which helps build muscle and decrease belly fat,” Self’s website states. “And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns.”
When it comes to preparing these sea creatures, the sky’s the limit. You can dress them with some extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, chives, fresh dill, lemon, salt and pepper and bake them in an aluminum foil pocket. You can simply sprinkle some salt and pepper on a salmon steak and add a smoky component by grilling it. You can steam, sauté, poach or broil fish and serve it with some tasty greens.
Why not add some spice to your life—and help your metabolism at the same time?
Hot peppers, such as jalapeños, red chili peppers and serranos, are metabolism-boosting foods because they contain a chemical called capsaicin. This chemical is the peppers’ spice element and spikes the metabolism by increasing the metabolic burn by 23 percent for 30 minutes.
Throw in some thin slices of jalapeños in a sandwich or add some red chili peppers to a vegetable sauté for a spicy kick.
Talk about a super food! Beans have a high amount of fiber and protein, which help boost your metabolism and help keep you full. These healthy seeds are also chock-full of iron, antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. They’re easily available, cheap and can be incorporated into most meals.
Think about adding black beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney, red or white beans to your breakfast, lunch or dinner. You could even make dessert with Japanese azuki beans. Whip up an easy chickpea salad, make a quick lentil soup (lentils require no soaking and cook in about 20 minutes), or pair beans with another protein-rich seed—quinoa—for a healthy, metabolism-boosting meal.
This is one my personal favorite dark, leafy greens. Like kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, collard greens and lettuce, spinach is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. But spinach packs the most protein per cup, which makes it a great metabolism-boosting food.
According to Livestrong.com, spinach contains 5 grams of protein for every one-cup serving—which only contains 7 calories. Aside from boasting the highest amount of protein for all greens, spinach is also rich in antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin K, which is essential in building strong bones. In fact, one cup of fresh spinach provides twice the amount of vitamin K most people need daily.
Try it sautéed with minced garlic and a bit of sesame oil. Make a Spanish-inspired sauté with spinach, chickpeas, onions, garlic, tomatoes, green olives and smoked paprika or pimentón. Spinach is so versatile that you can add it to many dishes, including: soups, egg omelets, pasta, sandwiches and salads, of course.
Now that you know of five healthy, metabolism-boosting foods, head to Whole Foods Addison or your favorite grocery store and pick up these beneficial foods today!