9 Foods that might be slowing down your metabolism

Today, we’re delving into a topic that impacts every one of us – our metabolism. You see, your metabolism is like the engine that powers your body, determining how efficiently you burn calories and manage your weight.

While it’s a complex and multifaceted process, we won’t be getting lost in the weeds of science.

No need to embark on a complicated journey through the intricacies of biochemistry. Instead, we’ll keep it simple, relatable, and practical. 

So, let’s get started. We will highlight nine common foods acting as silent saboteurs, hindering metabolism.

And remember, it’s not about deprivation or extreme measures; it’s about making informed choices to support your body’s natural processes.

What foods slow down metabolism?

Let’s kick things off by looking at the culprits that might be slowing down your metabolism. These are everyday foods that many of us consume without a second thought, but they can have a sneaky impact on your metabolic rate. 

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1. Refined sugars and sugary beverages

Sugar isn’t just about sweet cravings; it has a significant impact on your metabolism. Here’s the lowdown:

  • When you consume refined sugars in candies, sodas, and processed snacks, your blood sugar skyrockets, causing your body to release insulin quickly [1].
  • This rollercoaster ride can lead to insulin resistance over time, making it tough for your body to keep blood sugar in check.
  • Excess sugar often gets stored as fat, especially around your belly, slowing down your metabolism in the process.

Consider reducing these sugary culprits to support a healthier metabolism and opt for natural sweeteners or whole fruits when your sweet tooth kicks in.

2. Trans fats and processed foods

Trans fats are like unwelcome guests in your metabolism party. Here’s why you should show them the exit door:

  • Trans fats promote inflammation in your body, gumming up the works in your metabolic processes.
  • These fats are notorious for encouraging fat storage, particularly around your midsection, where you’d rather not have it.
  • Beyond metabolism, trans fats are a known hazard to your heart, so it’s best to steer clear.

To boost your metabolism, kick processed foods to the curb and opt for whole, unprocessed options. Your body will thank you for it.

Trans fats and processed foods

3. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

This sweetener often lurks in processed foods and sugary drinks, but it’s no friend to your metabolism:

  • HFCS places a burden on your liver as it gets processed there. An overworked liver can disrupt metabolic functions.
  • Just like refined sugars, HFCS can contribute to insulin resistance, making it tough for your body to regulate blood sugar.
  • HFCS may throw off your hunger and fullness cues, leading to overeating and potential weight gain.

To support a healthier metabolism, be vigilant about checking food labels and opt for products without HFCS whenever possible. Your metabolism will thank you for the upgrade [2].

4. Low-fiber foods

Fiber is a bit like the unsung hero of metabolism, often overlooked but crucial for your well-being:

  • Low-fiber foods, like processed snacks and white bread, zip through your digestive system too quickly. This can lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.
  • Fiber helps you feel full and satisfied after a meal, reducing the temptation to snack on less-than-healthy options.
  • A lack of fiber can throw off the balance of your gut bacteria, which plays a role in metabolic health. It’s like giving your gut buddies the cold shoulder.

To keep your metabolism humming along, make sure to incorporate fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your daily diet. Your digestive system and metabolism will appreciate the upgrade.

5. Excessive alcohol consumption

While a drink now and then is perfectly fine, overindulgence in alcohol can throw a wrench into your metabolic machinery:

  • Alcohol is calorie-dense, and those extra calories can pile on, leading to weight gain.
  • Your liver prioritizes processing alcohol, sometimes at the expense of other metabolic functions. This can leave other nutrients waiting in line.
  • Alcohol has a sneaky way of stimulating your appetite, often leading to late-night snacks and unhealthy choices.

Moderation is the key here. Enjoy your occasional drink, but be mindful of the impact excessive alcohol consumption can have on your metabolism and overall health.

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6. Artificial sweeteners

These sugar substitutes are marketed as calorie-free alternatives, but here’s the real scoop:

  • Artificial sweeteners are intensely sweet, and some studies suggest they can confuse your body’s calorie regulation system, potentially leading to overeating.
  • Research hints that these sweeteners may alter the balance of your gut microbiome, potentially affecting metabolic processes [3].
  • Consuming artificial sweeteners might actually increase cravings for sweet foods, which can sabotage your best dietary intentions.

Consider moderation and balance. While artificial sweeteners can be helpful for some, it’s essential to be mindful of their potential effects on your metabolism and overall eating habits.

7. High-sodium foods

Sodium is essential, but excessive intake can be sneaky and detrimental:

  • High-sodium foods can lead to water retention, causing temporary weight gain and an uncomfortable, bloated feeling.
  • Excessive sodium intake can spike your blood pressure, raising the risk of heart disease and other health issues.
  • Some studies hint at a high-sodium diet potentially interfering with metabolic processes, although research is ongoing.

Keep an eye on your salt intake, and consider fresh, whole foods as part of your strategy to support a healthier metabolism and overall well-being.

8. Trans fats and hydrogenated oils

These unhealthy fats are like unwelcome guests at your metabolic party, causing all sorts of trouble:

  • Trans fats and hydrogenated oils are notorious for sparking inflammation in your body, gumming up the gears of your metabolic processes.
  • They’re also experts at promoting fat storage, particularly around your waistline – not where you want it.
  • Beyond metabolism, these fats are no friends to your heart health, so it’s best to give them the cold shoulder.

Opt for healthier fat sources like olive oil or avocado to keep your metabolism running smoothly and your overall health in check.

9. Processed meats

While they may be convenient, processed meats like sausages and deli meats come with their metabolic drawbacks:

  • Processed meats are often loaded with preservatives, additives, and sky-high sodium levels that can negatively affect your metabolic health [4].
  • Many processed meats are also high in saturated fats, which, when consumed excessively, can contribute to weight gain and metabolic issues.
  • The World Health Organization has classified processed meats as carcinogenic, making it wise to limit your consumption.

For a metabolism-friendly approach, opt for whole, unprocessed protein sources like lean meats, poultry, or plant-based options. Your body will appreciate the change.

How can I boost my metabolism fast?

Now that we’ve explored foods that can slow down your metabolism, let’s flip the script and delve into the foods that can give it a boost. These are the metabolism-friendly options that can help rev up your calorie-burning engine. 

Lean protein sources

Protein is like the fuel your metabolism needs to function efficiently. Opt for lean protein sources like:

  • Chicken: Skinless, boneless chicken breast is an excellent choice. It’s low in fat and high in protein.
  • Turkey: Similar to chicken, turkey breast is lean and packed with protein.
  • Fish: Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel not only provide protein but also essential omega-3 fatty acids, which can support metabolic health.
  • Lean beef: Look for lean cuts of beef like sirloin or tenderloin. They deliver protein without excessive fat.
  • Plant-based options: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, consider tofu, tempeh, legumes, and quinoa as protein sources.
lean protein sources

Whole grains

Whole grains are fiber-rich, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism on track [5]. Include options like:

  • Oats: Steel-cut or rolled oats are excellent for breakfast. They provide a slow release of energy and keep you feeling full.
  • Quinoa: This ancient grain is a complete protein source and offers a good dose of fiber.
  • Brown rice: Swap white rice for brown rice to increase fiber intake.
  • Whole wheat: Choose whole wheat bread, pasta, and other products instead of their refined counterparts.

Fruits and vegetables

These natural wonders are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support metabolic processes. Consider adding these to your plate:

  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants that can help protect your cells and boost metabolism.
  • Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens provide essential nutrients and are low in calories.
  • Citrus fruits: Oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are not only refreshing but also contain compounds that can enhance metabolism.
  • Apples: Apples are high in fiber, making them a great choice for keeping hunger at bay.

Incorporating these metabolism-boosting foods into your diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and support your overall well-being. Remember, it’s not about dramatic changes but about making sustainable, balanced choices that work for you.

Final takeaways

You have gained insights into both the culprits that can hinder your metabolic rate and the allies that can boost it. It’s all about making informed choices and finding balance in your dietary habits.

Remember, there’s no need for extreme measures or drastic changes. Small, sustainable adjustments to your eating habits can lead to significant improvements in your metabolic health and overall well-being.

So, we encourage you to take these actionable steps to heart and apply them to your daily life. Your metabolism is like the engine of your body, and with the right fuel and maintenance, you can keep it running smoothly. Here’s to a healthier, more vibrant you!


What foods slow your metabolism?

Foods that can slow down your metabolism include refined sugars, sugary beverages, high-sodium foods, processed meats, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and excessive alcohol consumption.

What 5 foods speed up metabolism?

Five foods that can help speed up your metabolism are lean protein sources (e.g., chicken, fish), whole grains (e.g., oats, quinoa), fruits and vegetables, green tea, and foods rich in spices and herbs (e.g., cayenne pepper, cinnamon).

Does sugar slow down your metabolism?

No, refined sugars found in candies and sugary beverages tend to have a more significant impact on metabolism than naturally occurring sugars in whole fruits, which come with fiber and nutrients that mitigate their effects.

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[1] https://www.health.com/nutrition/sugar-health-effects
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649104/
[3] https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/artificial-sweeteners-and-the-microbiome/
[4] https://health.osu.edu/wellness/exercise-and-nutrition/additives-in-processed-food
[5] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/

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