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  • Writer's pictureLaurenWallace

6 Foods That Slow Metabolism (Plus Healthier Swaps)

By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN

September 13, 2022

Original article and page source found here.

There is nothing worse than starting an exercise program to burn fat, making some good diet changes, but still not seeing the results you want to see. Has that ever been you? It can be really frustrating — and be due to consuming foods that slow metabolism.

The reason this happens, even though you think you’re consuming a “healthy diet,” is that there are often some hidden foods in your diet that may be ruining your weight loss efforts. The foods that keep you from losing the last 10 pounds and keep you stuck at a plateau are known as foods that slow metabolism.

The term may sound scary, and it can be. Your body is likely to recognize these processed foods as toxins, and this can mean you suffer some ill effects as a result of eating them often, such as poor gut health.

Furthermore, you might even kick your immune system into overdrive with foods that throw your normal blood sugar out of whack or food intolerances that cause inflammation — keeping your nervous system in a constant fight-or-flight state.

The food groups described below negatively alter your metabolism in part by causing problems such as:

  • Weight gain

  • Thyroid dysfunction

  • Fatigue or muscle weakness

  • Hormone imbalances

  • Digestive distress and microbial gut changes

  • Blood sugar fluctuations

  • Increases in appetite, overconsumption of calories and sugar cravings

The craziest thing about these foods? They are often labeled as “health foods”!

Read on to find out the six foods that slow metabolism I recommend switching out of your diet in order to take your metabolism and fat-burning potential to the next level.

6 Foods That Slow Metabolism to Avoid

1. Fruit Juice

Contrary to popular belief, fat in your diet likely isn’t the primary thing making your waist bigger — it’s probably consuming too much hidden sugar! Drinking fruit juice and other ways of consuming too much sugar destroys your body and can wreck your metabolism in several ways, including causing sluggishness, cravings and inflammation.

The worst part is that most commercial juices and processed sugary foods don’t provide you with substantial amounts of vitamins or minerals despite their high calorie counts.

Fruit juices (including most apple, orange and grape juices) are basically the equivalent to drinking chemically laden sugar water. I know something like apple juice sounds healthy, but the process of turning an apple into juice is typically as follows:

  • First, they press the apple and remove all of its natural filling fiber, and then they heat it up through pasteurization at 280 degrees.

  • Then it’s dried and turned into a concentrate used to yield higher outputs at lower costs.

  • Finally, manufacturers add in even more sugar, usually along with food coloring and flavorings. The finished product is the apple juice you buy from the grocery store, maybe even to give to your kids!

Here’s something else you might not realize about the sugar content of juice: One eight-ounce glass of fruit juice can contain up to 30 grams of sugar, while a soda usually contains around 28 grams of sugar!

Juice isn’t the only thing you should avoid if you want to keep your added-sugar intake low. Other sources of hidden sugar to reduce include:

  • alcoholic beverages or mixes

  • bottled caffeinated or coffee drinks

  • energy drinks

  • cereal

  • yogurt or flavored dairy products

  • condiments, such as ketchup or sauces

  • granola snack bars

Sugar is hidden under numerous names like: corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, juice concentrate, raw sugar and brown sugar. Check ingredient labels carefully, or better yet, ideally avoid buying foods or drinks that require a label in the first place.

What to do instead: To replace fruit juice with an healthier alternative, I recommend making homemade lemonade by mixing real lemon juice, water and stevia.

Kombucha is another great option to satisfy your need for something besides plain water, as well as herbal teas mixed with raw honey or some steeped fruit slices.

You might also find that drinking coconut water, practically nature’s sport drink, makes another satisfying option, helping cut down on your cravings for things like soda, bottled smoothies, alcohol, sweetened coffee drinks or artificially sweetened drinks.

2. Refined Grains

Eating lots of refined grains may affect your metabolism and weight loss efforts. Even many products that appear to be “whole grain” — and therefore assumed to be healthy — can contribute loads of mostly empty calories to your diet without much nutrient benefit in return.

Surveys shows that in the typical Western diet some of the biggest grain offenders include commercially sold:

  • breads

  • pasta

  • cereals

  • crackers

  • muffins

  • desserts

  • flours

  • chips

  • granola bars

To help combat obesity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture highly recommends limiting consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars and sodium.

Studies show that higher refined grain intakes are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as inflammatory protein concentrations.

I know it may seem like many so-called “whole grains” (including many wheat breads, wraps or cereals) are healthier, but even most of these don’t help your metabolism much. Study results are not totally conclusive, but depending on the individual, some evidence links even whole grain consumption with changes in gut health and microbial metabolism.

When consumed in excess, refined grains can provide you with high levels of certain compounds that may hurt your metabolism, including gluten, lots of starch and phytic acid. Many packaged grain products also contain lots of added sugar, salt, synthetic preservatives, and are “fortified” with synthetic vitamins and minerals that can be hard to metabolize properly.

For some people (although not all), gluten can cause inflammation, which is the root of disease. People react to eating starches and lots of carbohydrate foods differently, but for those who are not very active or prone to weight gain, starches can turn into sugar quickly once consumed, cause overeating or cravings, and ultimately not provide many natural vitamins or minerals.

Research shows that the “antinutrient” phytic acid, a compound found in grains and legumes, binds to minerals, so while you might think grains are a good source of things like essential minerals and vitamins, phytic acid can prevent you from absorbing as much as you’d think.

What to do instead: A better option for fat loss is replacing your daily intake of refined grains with fruits and vegetables or consuming 100 percent (ideally soaked and sprouted) whole grains in moderation. Certain whole grains are also called “ancient grains” and include things like rolled oats, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, teff and millet.

According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, consuming ancient whole grains as part of an otherwise balanced diet can have benefits like supplying lots of fiber, reducing hunger, lowering high blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels. That’s because only unprocessed whole-grain kernels include three beneficial parts — the bran, endosperm and germ — meaning they don’t have their phytonutrients, vitamins and antioxidants removed.

However, for best results with weight loss I recommend consuming only about one to two pieces daily of a sprouted grain bread (like Ezekiel bread) — unless you’re gluten-intolerant. I also recommend trying gluten-free flour replacements instead of wheat flour, especially coconut flour. Coconut flour is a dieter’s best friend because it’s high in fiber, which supports rapid fat loss, and contains filling, healthy fats that your body can burn as fuel.

3. Canola Oil and Other Processed Vegetable Oils

Although we often hear that vegetable oils are a healthier alternative to things like saturated fats from dairy products, coconut oil or dark meat, some research suggests this isn’t necessarily true. When vegetable oils, such as canola oil, safflower oil or sunflower oil, replace all saturated fat in your diet, you may miss out on some benefits as a result.

In general, when it comes to including healthy fats in your diet, consuming the wrong types and amounts may wind up interfering with appetite regulation, your mood, hormone production and digestion, all of which can keep you from losing the “last 10 pounds” or seeing the results you’re looking for.

Meanwhile, you’ll benefit from eating other sources of healthy fats instead— including raw, full-fat dairy products and grass-fed butter or ghee, which studies show may help suppress your appetite, reduce fat mass and boost your metabolism in other ways.

You might think of butter as being “fattening” and unhealthy for your heart, but as I always say, butter is like your belly’s best friend! Grass-fed butter supports your metabolism because it is high in the type of fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid, and coconut oil supports fat loss or weight management because it’s high in medium-chained fatty acids, which boost thermogenesis (production of heat in the body which burns energy).

Keep in mind that most commercially sold vegetable oils are often combined with solvents, such as hexane, during their manufacturing processes, and it isn’t clear from evidence if there are long-term health risks associated with consuming these solvents.

When used in processed foods — as they very commonly are — these oils may also become oxidized (or rancid), which can contribute to inflammation throughout the entire body, disrupting your hormones and metabolism.

Canola oil, in particular, has a reputation for being “heart healthy.” It’s derived from a variety of rapeseed, a flowering plant in the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family that isn’t naturally very high in fat, but when made into an oil it contains mostly monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, specifically ALA.