By Mike Roussell, PhD
August 09, 2011

Q: "How can I boost my metabolism? Can eating certain foods help?"

A: You may be surprised to know that the whole idea of "metabolism-boosting foods" is generally a myth perpetuated via hype and the marketing of different diet products and services. While there are a few foods that can increase your calorie burning, including hot peppers, cold water, and green tea, the effects are small, and thus they should be secondary fat-burning strategies, not primary ones.

Small reductions in your metabolism while dieting are inevitable, but here's the secret to stoking your metabolic fire: The best way to speed up your metabolism is not to crash it in the first place.

In a previous "Ask the Diet Doctor" column, I talked about a major diet downfall for many women: cutting too many calories too fast. Restricting your calories too much, too fast is metabolic suicide, and there aren't enough fat-burning foods in the world to counteract this.

So the question really should be, how can I best slow the inevitable reduction in my metabolism while dieting? The answer, probably not surprising to regular "Ask the Diet Doc" readers, is through changing the types of carbohydrates you are eating. A diet containing low-glycemic carbohydrates (green vegetables, beans, fruits, and some whole grains) will allow you to keep your metabolism higher than a diet containing high-glycemic carbohydrates (processed grains, rice cakes, white potatoes, white rice, sugary beverages, etc).

When researchers had people eat either a reduced-calorie, low-gylcemic diet or a reduced-calorie, high-glycemic diet for one week, they found that dieters in the high-glycemic group experienced a 10-percent decrease in their metabolism, compared to only a 4-percent decrease in the low-glycemic group.

The difference in calorie burning between these two groups after only six days on the diet was nearly the calorie-burning equivalent of the low-glycemic group running one extra mile per day! Remember, both groups ate the same amount of calories, just different types of foods.

In order to maximize your metabolic speed while dieting, lower your calories slowly, add as much resistance and interval training as your schedule allows (ideally, 6 sessions a week: 3 weights and 3 intervals), and eat a low-glycemic diet. This is much more practical (and effective) than stuffing yourself with hot peppers at every meal.

Meet the Diet Doctor: Mike Roussell, PhD

Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical eating habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and long lasting health. Dr. Roussell holds a bachelor degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. Mike is the founder of Naked Nutrition, LLC, a multimedia nutrition company that provides health and nutrition solutions directly to consumers and industry professionals via DVDs, books, ebooks, audio programs, monthly newsletters, live events, and white papers. To learn more, check out Dr. Roussell's popular diet and nutrition blog,