Metabolism Booster, Time Waster or Worse?

Metabolism Booster

© Can Stock Photo / deeaf

Here are 7 so-called metabolism boosters and some truth about them.

Nearly every week, I read about some way to boost metabolic rate or a patient asks me about the best metabolism boosting tips and tricks. Whether or not any of these tricks actually work – and do so safely – is a big question mark. But the bigger problem I see is the distraction of these tricks. Forcing yourself to drink 12 glasses of ice cold water or to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with jalapenos sprinkled about takes time, energy and focus from things we know are truly important.

You could put your energies into de-stressing and burning a few calories by taking a walk. You could prepare wholesome food rich in health-boosting, low-calorie vegetables. You could spend more time planning your meals, shopping for healthful groceries and preparing tasty, nourishing foods.

Questionable metabolism booster #1: Get a caffeine buzz

Caffeine may actually boost your metabolic rate, at least according to short term studies.

But: It also speeds your heart rate and can cause sleepless nights. Long term studies have not shown that caffeine use leads to weight loss.

What to do: Drink caffeinate beverages in amounts that you tolerate, but avoid caffeine supplements for weight loss purposes.

Questionable metabolism booster #2: Spice it up

Capsaicin, the compound responsible for the burn of chili peppers, also has some science supporting a metabolic boost. These hot peppers bump up your metabolic rate and use a few more calories for a short time after meals by stimulating your sympathetic nervous system.

But: Because capsaicin is so pungent, researchers found that it’s hard to comply long term.

What to do: Add some jalapeños and other spicy peppers here and there if you like them, but remember food is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t make your food unpalatable just to burn a few more calories.

Questionable metabolism booster #3: Drink green tea

I love green teas (and coffee and spicy peppers too) and it’s got a lot of health-boosting compounds.

But: studies don’t show gobs of weight dropping off by drinking tea of any type.

What to do: Drink green tea if you like it. Don’t go overboard because it too has caffeine that can keep you awake and make your heart race. Skip the bottled teas. They don’t have the health-boosting flavonols found in freshly brewed tea.

Questionable metabolism booster #4: Drink cold water

It takes energy (ie: calories) to warm up the water we drink. Researchers found that we burn about 12 extra calories when our bodies warm up a cup or so of water.

What to do: Drink water. Drink it at any temperature you like. It’s a very healthful beverage – and way better than sugary beverages or coffee drinks that resemble milkshakes.

Spicy peppers, cold water + 5 other metabolism boosters. Here's what you should know.Click To Tweet

Questionable metabolism booster #5: Eat large amounts of protein

Every time you eat, you burn some calories to digest, absorb and store nutrients. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF is greater for protein than it is for either fat or carbohydrate, so beefing up your diet with protein really will burn a few more calories.

But: Adding extra protein adds way more calories than you burn through the TEF. And good health requires the nutrients and health-boosting compounds in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and more.

What to do: Include protein-rich foods in every meal for balanced nutrition.

Questionable metabolism booster #6: Eat frequently

Yep, every time you eat, you burn calories for digestion, absorption and storage. On average, the TEF boosts metabolic rate by 10%.

But: It has nothing to do with the number of times you eat in 24 hours and everything to do with what you eat and the total calories you eat in 24 hours. In other words, if you ate the exact same food ringing up 1600 calories over three meals or five, the TEF would be no different. Your 24-hour metabolic rate would essentially be the same.

What to do: Choose healthful foods. Eat at the frequency that satisfies you and helps you manage hunger.

Questionable metabolism booster #7: Take diet supplements

Lots of supplements claim to boost metabolism or stoke metabolic rate. Some contain green tea catechins, guarana, yerba mate or caffeine among other things.

But: These supplements are not federally regulated and come with risks. In fact, about 20% of the cases of liver toxicity are caused by herbal and dietary supplements.

What to do: Take no supplements for weight loss before talking to a member of your healthcare team.

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

Leave a Reply


  1. Lauren on November 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Love this! Happy to see an evidence based article on metabolic boosters.

    • Jill Weisenberger on November 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks Lauren! So many myths to bust …

  2. Cynthia B on November 23, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I enjoy reading your newsletter and the “groundings” of your nutritional advice which is based on facts. Thanks for these tips.

    • Jill Weisenberger on November 23, 2016 at 8:43 am

      Thanks! So much misunderstanding out there, so we’ve got to be grounded in science. I appreciate your kind comments!

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Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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