Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies
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Some food-related chemicals were created by man with the purpose of improving your health. However, in many cases, they have the opposite effect. They're disguised within foods in one way or another, and it's important that you make sure they're not a mainstay of your metabolism boosting diet. The three food biggest culprits of this are trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Trans fats

Trans fats are found in many common processed foods and are the most damaging for your cholesterol levels and heart of any fat out there. This is why they're being banned left and right from restaurants in major cities and in food products. But they might still be lurking in your kitchen.

The American Heart Association recommends that you consume less than 2 grams of trans fat per day. Although food products can claim to have 0 (zero) trans fats, they may still have 0.5 grams or less. Still, there are ways to reduce your intake of these artificially made fats in your diet. When in doubt, read the ingredients list and be aware of the items that commonly contain trans fats:

  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil

  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

  • Vegetable shortening

Vegetable oils rich in trans fats include soybean, canola, and palm fruit.

Here are some common food products that contain trans fats:

  • Baked goods like cakes, cookies, pies, and their mixes

  • Breads and crackers

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Candy and chocolate

  • Condiments like salad dressing and non-dairy creamers

  • French fries

  • Potato chips, corn chips

  • Frozen pizza

  • Fish sticks

  • Margarine

  • Microwave popcorn

Condiments may be the most surprising source of trans fats. Don't assume because a food isn't fried or a snack food that it doesn't contain these damaging fats. Those brands that you've habitually purchased for years may be the biggest culprits. So check all the labels of your old favorites as well as the new items you think about bringing into your kitchen.

Artificial sweeteners

These are added to foods to provide sweetness sans calories. It's true they can be a decent alternative to high-sugar foods, in the sense that they can help control calorie intake and reduce the risk of dental cavities. However, artificial sweeteners have been shown to have negative effects on blood glucose levels, appetite, and digestive system, resulting in a slower metabolic rate over time.

Replacing artificial sweeteners with all-natural sweeteners automatically increases the calories you're taking in. Try an all-natural zero calorie sweetener like stevia and try to limit your portion size of anything that contains calories. Over time, you'll be able to wean yourself off the artificial stuff habit.

The following are artificial sweeteners:

  • Saccharin

  • Sucralose

  • Aspartame

  • Neotame

  • Acesulfame potassium

Common foods that contain artificial sweeteners are often promoted as diet, low-calorie, and sugar free:

  • Baked goods

  • Soft drinks

  • Puddings and yogurts

  • Jams and jellies

  • Gum and mints

  • Candies

Just because a food product is labeled as diet doesn't mean it's beneficial for your metabolism. Actually it's probably not so hot. To cut down on one ingredient, the manufacturer has to add something else to make the food taste good — often "imposters" or other nutrients you don't need more of. For example, reduced-fat peanut butter contains more sugar in place of a dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Sugar-free candies don't have sugar, but they do contain artificial sweeteners.

The exceptions here are milk, yogurt, and cheese. You want to choose low-fat products and pick the brand with the fewest ingredients to minimize the preservatives added. Low-fat milk gives you most of the same health benefits of calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals but without the saturated fat of whole milk.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

You may only correlate MSG with Chinese food or fast-food restaurants, but it's present in a lot of the food products you may purchase for your home. MSG's main function is as a flavor enhancer — a type of salt — but it can have a hormone-disrupting effect on your metabolism.

MSG is also known on an ingredient list as any of the following:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable or soy protein

  • Textured protein

  • Processed free glutamic acid

  • Glutamate

  • Yeast extract, food, or nutrient

  • Sodium caseinate

MSG is found in products such as these:

  • Instant soup mixes or boullion

  • Salad dressings

  • Canned gravy

  • Salted nuts

  • Processed cheese spreads

  • Flavored potato chips

  • Frozen meals

  • Protein powder drinks

  • Dry milk powder

Cutting down on products containing these chemicals often also means cutting down on preservatives and other additives found in foods. The more natural foods you consume, the more your metabolism gets boosted. You have control over what's in your kitchen, so make it a haven for more real foods because you don't necessarily know what it's your food when dining out.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Rachel Berman, RD is the Director of Nutrition for, a free Web site and mobile app which provides tools to help people lead healthier lives. A nationally recognized nutrition expert, she has appeared on The Today Show, several local television and radio health segments, and is frequently quoted in print and online publications.

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