Your metabolism determines how fast your body burns calories. If you lose weight slowly, you might be concerned that your metabolism is broken.
In this post, which contains two short video explanations, I’ll show you how to make simple shifts in your food choices to fix a broken metabolism, and get your body to burn more calories each and every day.
Fix a Broken Metabolism with this Food Exchange
In this video, I explain why your metabolism is not broken, but may be sluggish.
And, I share a simple way to flip your food choices, so your body burns more calories every time you eat.
Regardless of your age or gender, this shift in what you eat will give your metabolism a bump up, get more calories to burn off on a daily basis, and help you lose weight and stay healthy.
Can a Metabolism Truly Be Broken?
A lot of people worry that they’ve blown their metabolism due to years of poor eating habits.
But, your metabolism is really just a word that’s used to describe all of the chemical processes going on inside your body.
Your metabolism is essentially what converts the foods you eat into the energy your body uses to power everything you do from exercising to breathing.
So while you may refer to your metabolism as being broken, it is never completely broken. If it were, you’d be dead. No metabolism. No life.
5 Ways to Fix A Broken Metabolism
Your metabolism can get sluggish due to poor lifestyle habits. Here are some things you can do to rev it back up.
- Eat whole foods, not processed foods
- Omit high fructose corn syrup from your diet
- Eat more high-fiber foods
- Get plenty of B vitamins
- Get enough magnesium in your diet
Let’s look at each one of these in more depth…
Whole Foods Fix a Broken Metabolism
One of the best things you can start doing right away is to eat more whole foods and avoid processed foods.
You want to make your body work for its calories or more specifically, make your digestive tract work for its fuel.
And you do that by eating foods that have not been refined.
A practical way to do this is to start eating more meals at home. Many grab-n-go meals and fast food meals are filled with refined ingredients that digest too quickly in your body.
Why do you want your digestive system to work harder?
We all know and appreciate the fact that working our muscles is a good thing because the more we work our muscles the more work they can do for us.
It’s a similar situation with your digestive system. When you make it work to extract the nutrient from the foods you eat, it burns more calories because digesting food requires a lot of energy,
That energy requirement is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food
The Thermic Effect of Food
The amount of energy required to digest food is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food and means that when you eat, you get a little bump up in your metabolism.
How much of a bump will vary depending on what you decide to eat.
As a general rule, the less processed and the more whole a food is, the better simply because there is more to break down.
Think about this…
When we process whole foods and turn them into things like french fries, pizza, and packaged cookies and crackers, we strip out all off of the hard to digest parts.
So, essentially, the processed food manufacturers do all the hard work that your digestive tract was supposed to do. That robs your body of the calorie burn that comes with digesting whole foods.
And the difference can be significant.
The Cheese Sandwich Experiment
There was a small study done on 17 men and women to determine if whole foods really do boost your metabolism.
In the study, participants were split into groups, and both groups were fed cheese sandwiches.
The sandwiches had the same number of macronutrients (i.e. fat, protein, and carb grams), but differed in how much they were processed.
One of the sandwiches was made with real cheddar cheese sandwiched between slices of multigrain bread, while the other contained processed cheese product (a.k.a. fake cheese) in between slices of white bread.
After the participants ate their sandwiches, the researchers spent the next few hours measuring how many calories their bodies were burning to digest their meals.
The result was significant:
The participants who ate the whole food sandwich burned twice as many calories as those who ate the processed cheese on white bread (1).
Food Choices Directly Impact Your Metabolism
Food choices do matter and have a direct effect on your metabolism (a.k.a. on how many calories your body will burn).
- Processed foods slow a metabolism
- Whole foods fix a broken metabolism
Ways to get more whole foods into your diet
One of the best ways to get more whole foods is to cook at home. Many convenience foods and fast food meals contain highly refined ingredients.
Other suggestions include…
- Eating the whole fruit, instead of the fruit juice concentrate.
- Eating the vegetables, not the processed veggie chips.
- Eating the full-fat cheese, not the low-fat processed cheese product
In other words, eat whole natural foods, and you’ll get your metabolism to work harder and faster.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, I suggest you take a few moments to learn my 0123 strategy. I have a free video series that will teach you how to follow it.
How High-Fructose Corn Syrup Slows Your Metabolism
If your metabolism is sluggish, it will serve you well to get rid of foods and drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup.
I want you to think about what is happening inside your body when you drink soda, sweetened ice tea, or other sugary drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.
When you drink these things, there is very little for your digestive tract to do, so there is no thermic effect from these high-calorie drinks.
High-fructose corn syrup is very bad for your metabolism. You’ll get better results if you avoid it completely, and this study shows us why…
In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, overweight men and women were given drinks sweetened with either glucose, which is more or less table sugar, or fructose, which is what we get in concentrated forms from high-fructose corn syrup.
For ten weeks, these drinks made up 25% of the participant’s daily energy needs.
At the end of the study, they found that those who drank the fructose-sweetened drinks had a significant drop in their resting metabolic rate and fat oxidation meaning their bodies were not burning fat efficiently (2).
If you want to boost your metabolism and burn more calories naturally, you’ll get the results you’re after when you break free from soda and other drinks or foods with high fructose corn syrup.
3 Nutrients That Boost a Sluggish Metabolism
In this video, I share how fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium help fix a broken metabolism so your body burns more calories on a daily basis.
The Fiber Fix for a Broken Metabolism
As I mentioned earlier, one of the easiest things you can do to boost your metabolism is to make your digestive tract work for its fuel.
When your body has to work to break down food, it raises the Thermic Effect of Food, which increases the number of calories required for digestion.
Fiber is a nutrient that makes your digestive system work hard.
Fibrous plant foods include:
When you eat these high-fiber foods, your body has a lot to process, so your body has to work for the calories, which supports your metabolism for hours.
In my Freedom Weight Loss Coaching Program, I encourage members to eat a lot of leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables.
When it comes to adding fiber for weight loss, these are your best foods because they are so low in calories.
This low caloric content allows you to eat a lot, so not only are you getting fiber, but you’re also filling your stomach, which shuts off hunger.
Give Your Metabolism a Boost with B Vitamins
Another nutrient that will boost your metabolism is B vitamins.
A primary function of B vitamins is to help your body metabolize what you eat.
In other words, B vitamins are used to help break down the carbs, proteins, and fats you eat and turn them into energy.
So, B vitamins are essential for a fast running metabolism.
B vitamins are water-soluble, which means they don’t stay in your body. Instead, they get routinely flushed out, so you need to supply your body with these vitamins constantly.
Foods that contain B vitamins include…
- Dairy foods
- Whole grains*
- Starchy vegetables*, like potatoes
*Note that if you’re watching your carb intake, you’ll want to limit beans, grains, and starchy plant foods.
It’s also good to mention also that B vitamins are great for energy, so if you always feel sluggish, get more B vitamins into your diet
Speaking of energy…
Use Magnesium to Fix a Broken Metabolism
Magnesium, like B vitamins, help boost your energy. But, where magnesium really shines is with your metabolism.
Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in hundreds of chemical processes in your body. Without magnesium, your metabolism cannot run efficiently.
Foods that contain magnesium include
- Nuts (i.e. almonds)
- Seed (i.e. pumpkin seeds)
- Dark leafy greens(i.e. spinach)
Magnesium also has great additional effects.
In my university classes, I’ve referred to magnesium as mellow magnesium because it helps you relax.
Magnesium benefits include…
- Relaxation of muscles (it’s great for relieving muscle cramps)
- Lowering anxiety, helps you sleep better,
- Helping you cope with stress
Being high-strung and stressed will kill your health, so get more mellow magnesium into your diet, and you’ll not only boost your metabolism, but you’ll also boost your health.
You can supplement magnesium into your diet, which is a great idea if you’re on a low carb diet.
When you are on a low-carb diet, your body flushes out excess water.
Magnesium is an electrolyte that will get flushed out along with the excess water.
I use Endure because it contains magnesium, potassium, and sodium, without hidden sugars like dextrose, which is common in things like Pedialyte and Gatorade-type drinks.
I just drip about 12 drops into a glass of water each morning, drink it and forget it.
1. Barr, Sadie B, and Jonathan C Wright. “Postprandial energy expenditure in whole-food and processed-food meals: implications for daily energy expenditure.” Food & nutrition research 54.1 (2010): 5144.
2. Cox, Chad L., et al. “Consumption of fructose-sweetened beverages for 10 weeks reduces net fat oxidation and energy expenditure in overweight/obese men and women.” European journal of clinical nutrition 66.2 (2012): 201.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.