If you think your metabolism is only responsible for how much you weigh, you’re selling it short. It actually encompasses the entire process of converting food into energy to keep you functioning—and it operates 24/7, even when you’re sleeping.
For that reason, you can’t exclusively blame a slow metabolism for weight gain. How much you eat and drink, how physically active you are, as well as what you’re consuming are key factors. That said, according to the Mayo Clinic, some factors outside of your control (like genetic makeup, hormones, environment) can create “an imbalance in the energy equation,” which directly impacts your metabolism.
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Still, you don’t have to just sit back and let biology take its course—there are things you can do to support your body’s metabolism. For example, supplements can be a major metabolism enhancer. As Amy Shapiro of Real Nutrition NYC says, the right vitamins allow the body to metabolize macronutrients and deliver energy to cells, helping them better perform essential functions.
While there’s no magic pill, the following supplements can help fill in the nutrition gaps so your body can function optimally. After, be sure to read up on our list of the Best Supplements To Buy at Costco, Say Experts.
Green tea has powerful effects on your metabolism. It’s packed with the potent antioxidant EGCG, which helps repair cellular damage done by free radicals and has been credited with metabolism-boosting effects.
Green tea is also a source of caffeine, which studies show can “have a significant influence on energy balance” when consumed at normal doses (around 100 milligrams), and may even help stimulate thermogenesis (the body’s way of producing heat by burning calories).
Just to keep expectations in check, Nina Dahan, MS, RD, points out that an extra fifteen minutes of daily physical activity more or less does the same thing “and has the bonus of building up muscle mass,” which is the “best way to rev up your metabolism in the long term.”
B vitamins help with many essential body functions, including supporting a healthy metabolism. They help your body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and turn the food you eat into energy. Shapiro also points out that we need the amino acid L-Carnitine to utilize fat as a source of energy. Vitamin B6 can help the body produce that amino acid. Here are eight different kinds of B vitamins, so look for a vitamin B complex, to make sure you’re getting a little of everything.
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Iron helps your body create energy by carrying oxygen to each and every cell, including your muscles, which helps them burn more fat. And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, which is why strength training can also be beneficial to jump starting weight loss. But iron deficiencies are extremely common and can cause a range of health issues if left untreated.
According to Shannon Henry, registered dietician for EZCare Clinic, if your body doesn’t get enough iron your red blood cell count will decrease, which can lead to an iron-deficiency anemia. Thwart that by eating iron-rich foods, or talk to your doctor about an iron supplement, if you’re deficient, as a way to support a healthy metabolism.
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This one may be new to your supplement vocabulary, but it’s worth learning about it—especially since renowned functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman, M.D. has incorporated it into his own regimen. He explains that alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that fights free-radical damage and supports the liver, metabolism and vitamin absorption. Naturally, it’s made inside your mitochondria where it helps turn nutrients into energy, but we only make small amounts which is why supplements can be beneficial. Plus, unlike other antioxidants, alpha lipoic acid is both water- and fat- soluble, meaning it can impact nearly every tissue and cell in the body.
Selenium helps your body utilize hormones from your thyroid that control your metabolism. So adding selenium-rich foods (like seafood, eggs, Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds) or a selenium supplement can help your thyroid function at its best, which can give your metabolism the support it needs.
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