Question: I have heard more protein in my diet will help me lose weight and increase my metabolism. Can the foods I eat really affect my metabolism? If so, what are the foods that increase metabolic rate?
Answer: Theoretically, during the first hour after you eat the digestion of any food will increase your metabolism.
Protein generally requires about 25% of protein calories for digestion, whereas carbohydrate requires about 23% and fat around 3%. So, in theory, a high-protein snack might increase the metabolism a little more than a high carbohydrate food with the same number of calories. However eating large amounts of protein will not significantly increase your metabolism and it may take you over the necessary daily calories needed to lose weight. Protein may be able to influence your weight and energy level by making you feel less hungry or more satisfied. Protein in the diet also stimulates the production of dopamine (a neurotransmitter in the brain) which may help you feel more alert and focused.
With that said, high fiber, low calorie foods will fill you up, boost your metabolism and prevent you from getting hungry. Examples include green vegetables, whole grains, and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, beans, and natural nuts. The best option to sustain your energy, prevent hunger and to lose weight is to eat a balanced diet throughout the day. Just by maintaining an optimal energy level all day you will feel like being more active. And the more active you are, the more calories you burn.
Remember, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume (See Weight Control 101).
Your best bet for keeping metabolism revved up: Build or maintain muscle, snack on low-calorie, high-fiber, high-protein foods, and keep moving!