These are the best snacks for a faster metabolism, dietitians say: eat this, not that

Your body’s metabolism can be quite complicated. It has its ups and downs, but how quickly it produces energy for you depends on the foods you feed it.

“Think of a fire: for it to start burning, you have to light it,” he explains. Amy Goodson, MS, DR, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian who specializes in general health, wellness, and sports nutrition. You’ll want to keep adding “small amounts of wood every two hours to keep [to] it’s burning. The same goes for your metabolism,” she says.

Essentially, the process of metabolism is your body’s ability to take the food you eat throughout the day and break it down into energy. The faster your metabolism works, the more calories you’ll burn at rest and the more energy you’ll have to keep going 24 hours a day, explains Harvard Health.

Goodson recommends eating smaller meals throughout the day and then a few full snacks here and there. Fill in the gaps in your day by choosing “nutrient-dense snacks that contain fiber and protein that help keep your metabolism on fire.” she says.

While each person’s individual needs will vary, snacks can generally be limited to “one or two snacks a day.” [that are] less than 200 calories each. Too many calories from snacking can ultimately lead to weight gain,” recommends Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., RDN, CDNanother internationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with portion control expertise.

Once you figure out how to feed your body the right things at the right time, you’ll have a better chance of reprogramming your metabolism to run at top speed. Read on to find out six of the best snacks to help kick-start your metabolism.

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On evenings when your dinner plans have fallen through, grabbing a small snack in the meantime can help boost your metabolism in an easy and delicious way. Cheese and crackers can be a great snack between meals, as cheese is high in protein to help keep you going until dinner time.

“Everyone needs a snack between lunch and dinner to help keep energy levels up and keep you from getting as hungry at dinner,” says Goodson. But more importantly, he explains, your metabolism will thrive best if you “feed your snacks protein.” Snacks that have a good source of protein have a longer digestion time, which means “you get full faster and stay full longer.”

bar and hard boiled egg
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Sometimes you just need to grab a snack that’s easy and available. The combination of a hard-boiled egg and a whole-grain granola bar is simple, but it packs a lot of fiber and protein, which “accelerates the calorie-burning system,” according to Goodson.

Like cheese, eggs serve as another important source of protein to help boost your energy levels. However, the dietary fiber in a whole grain granola bar will help slower absorption of carbohydrates, which can force your metabolism to continue burning calories and pumping energy into the body for a longer period of time.

When your body is running on gas, your metabolism will slow down as an energy conservation tactic. This is why eating more high-fiber snacks between meals is a great way to keep your metabolic process running steadily and as quickly as possible.

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Beef jerky doesn’t have to be reserved for a road trip or long car ride! In fact, Goodson recommends jerky as an “easy way to fuel your metabolism,” thanks to its high protein content. “Compared to carbohydrates and fats, it takes longer to break down,” he adds.

Besides a few pieces of salty jerky, bananas can also play a role in speeding up your body’s metabolism. The popular fruit is high in potassium and fiber, which can easily influence the functionality of the body’s metabolism. Some research attributes lower overall body weight to high fiber intake, due to the fact that people who eat more fiber foods feel more satisfied and tend to consume fewer calories, as the nutrient takes longer to digest and metabolize.

On the other hand, potassium has been likened to an “electrolyte,” functioning like a carbohydrate in metabolism. After eating a banana, your body’s metabolism will work to convert the potassium into stored energy for the future.

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If you eat breakfast early in the morning, a refreshing mid-morning snack can keep you going until lunch arrives. “Not eating for many hours can slow down your metabolism,” says Young. Having a bowl of yogurt with a few toppings like fruit and nuts can help ensure you get the energy you need.

The reason this is a great snack combo, according to Young, is because when combined, they offer an ideal mix of fiber, protein, and fat content. Greek yogurt is very high in protein, and many researchers have found that eating more protein can lead to burning more calories in a day.

Depending on your choice of fruits and nuts, you’ll add a good amount of healthy fats and fibers to boost your metabolism. Since fruits, like melons and berries, contain high amounts of fiber and antioxidants, they in turn keep your metabolism going and make you feel full. Also, nuts such as almonds and walnuts provide the body with healthy fats; when consumed in healthy proportions, they will stave off constant hunger pangs as the metabolism constantly works to break it down.

apples and peanut butter
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Apples and peanut butter are a snacking match made in heaven, offering a naturally sweet and refreshing crunch paired with a warm, savory creaminess.

Peanut butter has healthy fats and protein, which “will ward off hunger and keep your metabolism from sinking,” Young says. The reason apples are a great touch is that they have a high supply of fiber to preserve good carbohydrate metabolism.

Some studies have also shown that apples improve lipid metabolism, which is the body’s ability to convert fats into energy. By mixing apples and peanut butter, you’ll feel full longer and promote better digestion and distribution of energy from fats.

RELATED: 11 side effects of eating apples every day

hummus red bell pepper carrot radish green beans
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This is another easy after-lunch or pre-dinner snack that can keep you satisfied. Just like apples and peanut butter, hummus and fresh greens complement each other in a way that’s especially beneficial if you’re trying to speed up your metabolism.

Hummus is packed with ingredients rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, according to a study in nutrients, and immersion has been seen to improve glucose metabolism. This is the process by which the body’s metabolism works faster to break down glucose into energy and preserve it in the liver until absolutely needed by the body.

When you combine hummus with fresh vegetables, including bell peppers and broccoli, you’re mixing in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, plus complex carbs (healthier carbs). The combination of all these nutrients will cause your metabolism to burn more calories and supply more energy to the body. Carbohydrates require your metabolism to speed up as it converts the nutrient into energy almost immediately, but then healthy fats and proteins will force your metabolism to maintain that speed for the longer period of time they take to break down in the body.

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