Seven Foods to Fire Up Your Metabolism, Burn Fat and Improve Athletic Performance

While there's no such thing as a magic potion that will enable you to burn fat and lose weight, by eating certain foods combined with a balanced diet and exercise program, you can burn fat quicker which will lead to improved athletic performance.

In shape female performing yoga pose
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Which foods will help fire up your metabolism? Here are seven of the best.

Peppers

If you love peppers you're in luck. They do more than just spice up your food, they can increase your metabolism and help you to lose more weight. Cayenne peppers have actually been used as a treatment for obesity and both habaneros and jalapenos get the heart rate going and the body temperature up, helping to increase your metabolic rate.

Green tea

The EGCG found in tea helps to kick in your brain and nervous system, causing it to run more quickly and burn more calories. Combined with caffeine, which speeds up your heart rate, you get a double whammy.

Soup

Eating soup with your meal has proven to help speed the metabolism in addition to causing most people to eat less solid food. Of course, choosing a full fat cream soup won't do the trick. Choose a tomato or broth based soup instead.

Salmon and tuna

The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish help to lower your levels of the hormone called leptin. Those with lower levels of leptin have faster metabolisms and burn fat more quickly. If you don't like fish, fish-oil supplements can work just as well.

Calcium rich foods

People who consume 1,200-1,300 milligrams of calcium a day can lose almost double the amount of weight as those who don't get enough calcium in their diet. It's been proven to increase metabolism and decrease body fat. You can get calcium from foods like dark, leafy greens, sesame seeds, flax seeds, beans, quinoa and more. Although most people tend to associate milk with calcium it's certainly not the only, or best, source.

Citrus fruits

Fruits such as grapefruit help to speed metabolism and burn fat, possibly due to their high vitamin C content which also reduces insulin spikes.

Cinnamon

This wonderful spice has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and increase their natural production of insulin as well as lowering blood cholesterol. A daily intake of cinnamon can help you to manage weight and lose fat in the abdominal area as the fat cells in the stomach are very sensitive to high insulin levels.

In addition to all these great fat burning foods, don't forget to drink lots of water. It's a natural appetite suppressant and can also help speed up fat burning in addition to its many other health benefits.

K.C. Dermody has been an avid runner, hiker, and yoga enthusiast for twenty years, and as a trained yoga instructor she taught a variety of students from senior citizens to competitive athletes. She enjoys combining her passion for sports, emotional and physical well-being with her love of writing.

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Updated Thursday, Feb 2, 2012