Which Foods Slow Down Your Metabolism and Lead to Weight Gain

Ensure that you don't sabotage your weight management by eating the wrong foods that slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain.

Table of Contents

Did you know that up to 70% of adults struggle with maintaining a healthy weight? While some blame genetics, a surprising culprit might be lurking in your kitchen! Certain foods can act like metabolic roadblocks, hindering your body’s natural calorie-burning furnace.

This guide explains the science of metabolism and reveals the dietary factors that might be hindering your weight loss progress. We’ll unveil exactly which foods slow down your metabolism, and equip you with knowledge to make informed choices for a healthier, slimmer you.

Ensure that you don't sabotage your weight management by eating the wrong foods that slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain.

Key Takeaways:

  • Metabolism & Weight Loss: Certain foods can influence metabolism, impacting weight management.
  • Foods that Slow Metabolism: Sugary drinks, refined grains, processed foods, and unhealthy fats can hinder calorie burning.
  • Metabolism Boosters: Protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich foods, and whole grains can increase calorie burning (Thermic Effect of Food) and promote satiety for weight control.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Exercise, especially strength training, builds muscle which burns more calories at rest.
  • Focus on a Balanced Diet: Prioritize nutritious choices and mindful eating for long-term weight loss success.

Foods that slow down your metabolism

Certain foods can dampen your body’s natural calorie burning. Sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates like white bread and pastries lead to blood sugar spikes and insulin surges, potentially promoting fat storage and hindering weight loss. Conversely, protein and healthy fats can rev up metabolism due to the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) and by promoting satiety, reducing cravings and overeating.

Top Culprits: Foods That Slow Metabolism and Hinder Weight Loss

Food CategoryExamplesHow it Slows MetabolismFoods
Sugar-laden BeveragesSoda, Sugary Juices, Sports DrinksHigh fructose corn syrup spikes insulin, leading to fat storage and reduced calorie burning.sugary drinks, weight management, blood sugar control, insulin resistance, leptin sensitivity, diet drinks, artificial sweeteners, metabolic syndrome, belly fat, weight loss plateau
Refined GrainsWhite Bread, Pasta, PastriesLack of fiber leads to blood sugar spikes and crashes, disrupting metabolism.refined carbohydrates, glycemic index, blood sugar spikes, whole grains, fiber rich foods, digestive health, gut microbiome, satiety, calorie restriction, portion control


Alcohol slows down the oxidation of fat in our bodies. Our liver’s primary task is to metabolize fat and store energy. However, when we drink alcohol, this process is altered, and the liver begins to metabolize alcohol instead. It takes a lot of energy for our body to do this, slowing down our metabolism in the process.

Processed Foods

Processed foods contain a lot of sodium. This sodium makes our bodies hold onto water, causing bloating. It can also increase our blood pressure. Eating too much processed food can lead to insulin resistance. This resistance makes it difficult for our bodies to burn fat for energy.


Various kinds of sugar in box on old wooden background - Diet Smoothies for Weight Loss

Your body quickly digests sugar, turning it into glucose. If not burned off through exercise or daily activities, it gets stored as fat. To increase your metabolism, opt for natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. Avoid sweets and processed foods.

Orange and Fruit Juice

  • Orange juice has a lot of sugar, which can make you gain weight.
  • Juice drinks are sugary and have many calories but don’t have the fiber from whole fruit.
  • When you eat carbs, they turn into glucose, which gives your body energy. Eating too many carbs can lead to them turning into fat, which gets stored around your waist.
  • Sugary drinks like soda and sports drinks are full of calories. Drinking too much can lead to weight gain. These drinks also have caffeine. Caffeine can boost your energy quickly but then cause a sudden drop in energy. This drop can make you crave more sugary drinks or food for energy.

High fructose corn syrup

Fructose is in many fruits. This includes apples, pears, peaches, watermelons, and mangos. The fructose content ranges from 3 to more than 20 grams per serving. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. This means you need less fructose to achieve the same sweetness. However, consuming too much fructose can lead to bloating and diarrhea.

Added sugars have been linked with slowing down metabolism

Added sugars have been linked with slowing down metabolism. They can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes that lead to cravings and overeating. And they don’t make you feel full, so you’re more likely to eat too much.

The good news: It’s easy to avoid added sugar in your diet. Just check the labels for ingredients ending in “ose,” like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, or any word ending in “syrup” (like corn syrup) on a list of ingredients. And avoid packaged foods that have more than one or two grams of sugar per serving.

Watch out for hidden sugars in fruits and vegetables and in processed or prepared foods, such as fruit juice made from whole fruits.

Refined Grains

Refined grains slow down your metabolism. These grains lack fiber and nutrients, only containing starch. They are simple carbs that quickly enter the bloodstream. This causes a quick rise in blood sugar. In response, the pancreas releases insulin, causing blood sugar to drop fast. This drop makes you feel tired and more hungry, leading to overeating later.

Processed grains have less protein and fat compared to whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. This means they don’t keep you full for long. You can find refined grains in foods like boxed cereals, donuts, and bagels.

Regular Sea Salt

Regular sea salt, often used in cooking, isn’t ideal for weight loss. It has sodium and chloride, raising blood pressure. People should only consume 1,000 to 2,300 milligrams of salt daily.

Unrefined sea salt is better. It has magnesium and potassium which lower blood pressure. Avoid regular sea and table salt. They cause dehydration and water retention due to high sodium and chloride.

White Bread

It is a refined carbohydrate that breaks down quickly, causing your blood sugar to spike and then crash. This can leave you feeling hungry and tired.

White bread is also low in nutrients and high in sugar. A slice of white bread has 10 grams of sugar compared with just 1 gram in an apple, so it’s not surprising that white bread is linked to obesity.

White flour products are made from ground up wheat kernels (which contain all three parts of the grain: bran, germ, and endosperm). The bran and germ are stripped away leaving only the starchy endosperm behind. This process removes nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and vitamin E found in whole grains.


It is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda. It speeds up our heart rate, making it easier to burn calories during physical activity. However, caffeine is addictive and can slow down your metabolism after prolonged consumption. If you want to lose weight, limit yourself to one cup of coffee per day.

Fatty Foods

Fatty foods like fried chicken and fries take longer to digest, which means they require more energy to break down. Overeating fatty foods can slow down your metabolism, causing your body to store more fat.

Foods that help you boost your metabolism

While metabolism is complex, certain foods can give it a nudge. Protein (fish, chicken, beans) requires more energy to digest, increasing calorie burning. Healthy fats (avocados, nuts) promote satiety, curbing cravings and overeating. These dietary choices, alongside a balanced diet and exercise, can support a healthy metabolism for weight management.

Metabolism Boosters: Swap These In for Faster Fat Burning

Food CategoryExamplesHow it Boosts MetabolismFoodsOrganizations
Lean ProteinChicken Breast, Fish, BeansRequires more energy to digest, increasing calorie burning (Thermic Effect of Food).protein for weight loss, muscle building, thermogenesis, metabolic rate, lean mass, fat burning foods, calorie deficit, weight loss strategies, healthy meal planningDietary Guidelines for Americans, American College of Sports Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Healthy FatsAvocados, Nuts, Olive OilPromote satiety and hormonal balance, reducing cravings and overeating.healthy fats for weight loss, satiating foods, appetite control, hormone regulation, healthy cholesterol, heart health, inflammation, chronic disease preventionAmerican Heart Association, American Diabetes Association

Here are some examples of foods that can speed up your metabolism and help burn more calories:

Fiber-rich foods

Fiber helps prevent blood sugar spikes after meals. This stabilizes blood sugar levels and controls hunger, aiding in weight loss. It also makes you feel full longer with fewer calories. High-fiber foods include beans, legumes, and plant proteins. Whole grains, such as brown rice, are also high in fiber. Nuts and seeds, berries, broccoli, leafy greens, flax or chia seeds, and psyllium husk supplements are good sources too.


Protein heats up the body more than fat and carbs. Eating foods rich in protein can slightly boost your metabolism. A diet high in protein helps keep metabolism steady during weight loss. It helps preserve muscle mass too.

Protein makes you feel full longer and stabilizes blood sugar. This helps manage appetite and reduces cravings for sugar or carbs. Since protein needs more energy to be processed, it keeps your metabolism high.

You should eat 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. So, if you’re 125 pounds or over, you should aim for about 50 grams of protein. Yet, most Americans don’t eat enough protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 3-ounce serving of meat or poultry gives you 18 grams of protein. An egg provides 6 grams. One cup of cooked dry beans offers about 16 grams.

Healthy fats

Fats are essential for many bodily functions, including hormone production, joint and brain health, and blood sugar control. Fats help you feel full longer and maintain stable blood sugar levels, which is important for weight management.

Lean protein

Protein is important for muscle building and speeding up your metabolism. It does this by making your body burn more energy during digestion. Good sources of lean protein include chicken breast and tuna. Eggs are another source of protein. However, you should eat them in moderation. This is because they can be high in cholesterol and fat.

Whole grains

These contain fiber, which helps keep you full longer, so you eat less overall. Brown rice and oats are good choices, but any whole grain will do.


Vegetables are full of nutrients such as potassium and magnesium. These help control blood pressure and cholesterol. They also provide important vitamins and minerals for good health. About half of the food you eat every day should be vegetables.

Gain weight the healthy way

Weight training increases muscle mass, and those extra muscles will require more calories, increasing your metabolic rate. Once your metabolism slows down, and calories pile up, the calories turn into fat, leading to weight gain. If you eat and drink more calories than your body uses, you will gain weight.

Eating extra calories leads to weight gain. It also slows down your metabolism. This happens because your body works harder to digest these calories. A slow metabolism burns calories less efficiently. This can cause you to gain weight or keep it on.

How to Gain Weight Fast with a Slow Metabolism

How to Gain Weight Fast with a Slow Metabolism

Gaining weight is hard if you have a fast metabolism, which might be inherited. There’s no sure way to slow down your metabolism, but you can still gain weight and shape up. A slow metabolism is often blamed for weight gain. It can be tough to lose extra weight. Other factors also play a role.

People who are underweight usually don’t eat enough calories. You might choose foods that are too low in calories. If you’re trying to keep or lose weight, look for foods that increase your metabolism.

To lose fat or avoid gaining weight, add certain nutrients to your diet. Eating more calories than needed can lead to weight gain. Your body turns excess carbs and protein into energy, storing the rest as fat.

Weight loss isn’t just about metabolism. It also depends on how much you eat. Many things affect metabolism, like your diet, exercise level, weight, and muscle mass. Your metabolism determines how much energy you need. But your weight is based on your diet, how much you drink, and your exercise habits. The kind of food you eat, how often you eat, and your activity level can change your metabolic rate.

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the process your body uses to break down food and turn it into energy. It is a complex process that combines calories and oxygen to generate and release energy. Metabolism refers to the chemical (metabolic) process when your body converts food and drinks into energy. Your body gains energy by combining calories from food and beverages with oxygen.

Resting metabolic rate (RMR)


Metabolism includes our resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the energy our body uses for breathing, circulating blood, and other essential functions. It also consists of activity thermogenesis, which means any physical activity or exercise. Another component is the thermic effect of food activity thermogenesis, involving any activity or sport. The calories your body burns for these essential functions are known as your basal metabolic rate, or metabolism. In simple terms, metabolism is how our body consumes energy and burns calories.

Can you boost your metabolism to burn more calories?

Metabolism or metabolic rate is defined as the process by which your body converts your food into energy. Your body needs calories for energy. If you don’t consume enough calories, your metabolism can slow down. If the body tries to conserve its energy reserves, the metabolism slows down. Not eating enough can slow down your metabolism and cause your body to break down muscle mass, which burns calories.

The more efficiently your body metabolizes food, the fewer calories it takes to convert to body weight. Carbohydrates are broken down more quickly since they don’t have to work as hard. A fast metabolism keeps calories burning, which is why some people can eat a lot without gaining weight.

A fast metabolism is like a hot stove that burns fuel (calories) quickly

Some people lose weight more quickly and easily than others. However, anyone can lose weight by burning more calories than they eat. This is why weight loss can be challenging. You cannot change your basal metabolic rate, but you can increase the calories you burn by being active.

Changes in the environment, like altering your diet or exercising less, are often blamed for weight issues. Regardless of whether you have a fast or slow metabolism, our bodies store extra energy in fat cells. People with slow metabolisms burn fewer calories at rest and during activity. Therefore, they need to eat less to prevent weight gain. While it’s partly true that metabolism affects weight gain, it’s also a myth. According to Alyssa Ramsey, MD, losing muscle slows down your metabolism. This can lead to weight gain over time.

Metabolism, a natural process, is regulated by many mechanisms in the body based on your needs. It’s crucial because it converts food and drink into energy, impacting your weight.

Ways to increase your metabolism and lose weight

Metabolic rate is the amount of energy used up by our bodies

Weight loss is a struggle for many people. Changing your diet and lifestyle can be challenging, especially when cravings and lack of results demotivate you.

Boosting your metabolism can make losing weight easier. While you can’t control every factor that influences your calorie burning rate, there are many steps you can take. These steps can speed up your metabolism, helping you to lose weight more quickly.

Here are some easy ways to increase your metabolism:

Eat Plenty of Protein at Every Meal

Eating food can increase your metabolism for a few hours. It’s called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It’s caused by increased heart rate, respiration, and oxygen consumption after eating.

Build Muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat

So adding strength training to your exercise routine can help you achieve a healthy weight. To lose weight quickly, do strength training exercises for all your major muscle groups at least twice a week. This will burn calories, build muscle, and keep your metabolism from slowing down while you’re on a diet.

Drink More Cold Water

Drinking adequate amounts of water is essential for weight loss. If you replace calorie-loaded drinks – such as soda or juice – with water, you may experience an even greater

Citrus fruits

Vitamin C in citrus fruits can increase energy levels and fight fatigue, which may help burn more calories.

Spicy foods

Thermogenic foods are known to contain natural chemicals that can boost metabolism and reduce hunger. Examples include hot peppers, mustard, and horseradish.

Lean proteins

These include fish, chicken breast, turkey breast, and lean cuts of beef, such as sirloin steak, tenderloin steak, and round steak. Lean proteins are filling and may help reduce your appetite by increasing feelings of fullness.

Refined Grains

Refined grains like white bread and pasta have little fiber and many empty carbohydrates. Fiber helps keep blood sugar steady, making you feel fuller longer. Whole grains are better choices because they’re high in nutrients and lower in calories.


The foods we eat greatly affect our metabolism and ability to manage weight. To avoid gaining weight and to lose weight, we need to eat mindfully. We should choose foods that increase our metabolism. These include fiber-rich foods, protein, healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. Eating these can make our metabolism faster and help with lasting weight loss.

To prevent weight gain and support overall health, it is important to avoid foods that slow down metabolism. These foods include alcohol, processed foods, sugar, refined grains, and fatty foods. By choosing healthy foods and balancing calories with physical activity, we can effectively manage our weight.