Is it possible to boost metabolism with a healthy meal?

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Nearly every ingredient in this recipe has some kind of metabolism boosting power, and the few others are just as important to boost flavor.

Why peppers? The bell pepper is a low-calorie, antioxidant and vitamin-rich member of the Capsicum genus, and the only member that does not contain capsaicin, a chemical that makes peppers spicy. Capsaicin has been shown to create a negative energy balance and reduce appetite, thereby aiding in healthy weight management [1]. Since the bell pepper is without it, we’ve added capsaicin to this recipe with jalapenos and cayenne pepper. This way you have full control over how spicy your meal is (and how much of a metabolic boost you want).

Lean ground beef is the animal protein included in this recipe. High-protein foods boost your metabolism because they use more energy to digest than carbs and fat [2]. Eating a protein-rich diet also helps you maintain muscle mass, even on a weight-loss plan, and more muscle mass means more calories burned, even at rest [3]. Additionally, high-protein foods are likely to keep you feeling satiated for longer after a meal, which may lead to reduced cravings and overall caloric intake [4]. In addition to being high in protein, beef also contains many essential nutrients, some of which are paramount to maintaining a strong metabolism. Iron, zinc, and selenium are three nutrients, in particular, that are necessary for the healthy function of the thyroid gland, an organ that plays a significant role in metabolism. Beef is one of the most concentrated sources of heme iron (the most biologically available type of iron) and is also an excellent source of zinc and selenium [5].

Quinoa is often considered a grain, but it is technically a pseudo-cereal or a seed that is prepared and eaten like a grain [6]. It has a very high protein content (about 15%) compared to other grains and is an excellent source of prebiotic fiber for digestion and gastrointestinal health, among other benefits [6]. Legumes, such as black beans, are also a great source of both protein and fiber. When you consume prebiotic fiber, it feeds the probiotic, beneficial bacteria living in the intestine. These bacteria, in turn, produce short-chain fatty acids which are known to help burn stored fat as energy and normalize blood sugar levels [7].

Tomatoes are naturally very low-calorie compared to other fruits and are not only full of fiber but also rich with antioxidants. Lycopene, the most abundant antioxidant in tomatoes, is a known fighter of free-radicals and cellular damage, and lycopene (in tomato products specifically) may help to maintain a healthy cholesterol balance as well [8].

Coconut oil is the final metabolism booster included in this healthy recipe. Unlike most saturated fats, coconut oil is comprised of mostly medium-chain fatty acids. When people consume medium-chain fatty acids, they travel straight from the digestive tract to the liver, to be used for energy immediately, or to be transformed into ketone bodies [9]. Medium-chain fatty acids are less likely to be stored than other fats. Also, clinical evidence has shown that consumption of medium-chain fatty acids actually increases metabolism and the number of calories burned per day [10, 11].

Now that we’ve shown you how this recipe can boost your metabolism, we’re happy to show you how to prepare it…


1 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 bell peppers (color of your choosing)
3/4 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh jalapeno finely diced
1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 can no-salt-added tomato sauce

Start by preheating the oven to 350°F

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

In a large skillet, cook the beef until meat is no longer pink. Remove beef from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour out any remaining liquid from the pan.

Add coconut oil to the hot pan and wait for it to melt and coat the pan. Add onions, salt them liberally, and cook until onions are translucent (but not brown) before adding garlic and jalapeno. When the garlic starts to become fragrant (about 1 minute) stir in tomato sauce, quinoa, diced tomatoes, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne. Heat this mixture through, giving spices a chance to meld.

Turn off the heat, and stir in cooked beef, black beans, and ½ of the chopped cilantro. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If your pan is too small, this step can be done in a bowl.

Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise and lay them in a baking dish that you have lightly greased with coconut oil so that peppers don’t stick. Spoon the filling into 4 pepper halves.

Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350°F for about 30-35 minutes or until peppers are tender. Then, uncover and bake 10 more minutes to give the surface a light crisp. Let them cool slightly before serving, and sprinkle tops with remaining cilantro. Consider serving with a side of spinach salad for extra iron.


  1. Ludy, Mary-Jon, George E. Moore, and Richard D. Mattes. “The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans.”Chemical senses 37.2 (2011): 103-121.
  2. Pesta, Dominik H., and Varman T. Samuel. “A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats.” Nutrition & metabolism 11.1 (2014): 53.
  3. Wycherley, Thomas P., et al. Effects of energy-restricted high-protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 96.6 (2012): 1281-1298.
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  5. Sharma, Sangita, Tony Sheehy, and Laurence N. Kolonel. “Contribution of meat to vitamin B 12, iron and zinc intakes in five ethnic groups in the USA: implications for developing food‐based dietary guidelines.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 26.2 (2013): 156-168.
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  7. Nugent, Anne P. “Health properties of resistant starch.” Nutrition Bulletin 30.1 (2005): 27-54.
  8. Palozza, P. A. O. L. A., et al.”Effect of lycopene and tomato products on cholesterol metabolism.”Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 61.2 (2012): 126-134.
  9. Liu, Yeou‐mei Christiana.”Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic therapy.” Epilepsia 49 (2008): 33-36.
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  11. St-Onge, M. P., et al. “Medium-versus long-chain triglycerides for 27 days increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure without resulting in changes in body composition in overweight women.” International journal of obesity 27.1 (2003): 95.