The human body is an amazing machine, but it evolved in a world with very different priorities from our own. Back when we were hunting and gathering our food, the tendency for the metabolism to slow down whenever possible was a good thing. Food was scarce, and you didn’t want to burn calories unnecessarily. In our modern world, however, a pokey metabolism means you retain fat and feel sluggish – probably not your goal unless you’re saving your energy for that upcoming mammoth hunt.
Toxins in your body slow down your metabolism, so the cleanse is a great way to get your body kick-started. But to keep it revving at high speed long after you’ve finished the cleanse, be sure to incorporate some of the following foods into your diet.
Water. This isn’t anyone’s idea of a secret super-food, but be sure you’re drinking enough. At least eight 8-ounce glasses a day is a very rough, easy to remember guideline, but it’s a little short of the mark, especially for men; the Mayo Clinic recommends a per day minimum of 3 liters (13 cups) of fluids for men and 2.2 liters (9 cups) for women. Even mild dehydration significantly slows down the metabolism and means you aren’t flushing out the toxins.
Green tea. This counts towards your daily fluid intake, and offers the benefits of caffeine and catechins, which speed up the metabolism for a few hours. Just remember not to overdo the caffeine, and to stay away from it altogether during a cleanse.
Spices. Hot peppers, chilli, cinnammon, and ginger all help rev up the metabolism and help reduce insulin and triglyceride levels. Be sure to check the ingredients in any chilli powders or sauces you use, though, as they can sometimes contain unwanted sugars or preservatives.
Dark green leafy vegetables. Spinach, kale, turnip and collard greens are rich in fiber and iron. Your body needs to work harder to digest foods high in fiber, so you increase your metabolism and burn calories. Iron helps your red blood cells transport nutrients throughout the body, helping your body work efficiently and keeping energy levels high.
Protein. Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting fat or carbohydrates. Think how sluggish you feel after eating a dish of pasta as compared with a lean chicken breast and salad. Lean meats, turkey, fish, tofu and nuts are good choices. Salmon and tuna have the added benefit of being high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce metabolism-slowing leptins in your body.
Grapefruit. In addition to its other benefits, grapefruit is rich in fiber and is a natural insulin-regulator. Vitamin C is key is also key to a healthy metabolism, and grapefruit has plenty of it.
Almonds. Don’t eat too many – they are high in calories as well as in phytic acid, which in high quantities can deplete certain minerals in your body. But they are proven to speed up the metabolism, and a small handful makes a healthy between-meals snack.
And of course…. Exercise. You know this. You’re not going to have an easy time revving up your metabolism, eliminating toxins and burning fat by sitting in your comfy chair. Get up and move your body!
Don’t cleanse your body and then go back to bad old habits. By keeping your insulin low, your metabolism high, and your water and nutrient intake at optimum levels, you will keep your body flushing toxins, burning calories and feeling great.