Slow Your Metabolism with Nitrate-Rich Vegetables

The largest component of our daily energy budget is resting metabolic rate. The direct effects of physical activity are relatively small compared to how many calories we expend just living and breathing. Now, during something like training for the US Armyís Special Ops or climbing a four-mile-high mountain, we may burn 4,000 calories a day. For most people, however, the calories we burn just lying around existing exceeds normal physical activities. Thus, our resting metabolic rate can have implications for controlling our weight.

Researchers have shown that dietary nitrate found in beets and green leafy vegetables improves the efficiency of the little power plants within our cells, boosting athletic performance by extracting more energy from every breath. So, if we eat a lot of vegetables, might it slow our metabolism since our body can function so much more efficiently with the calories we give it?

Indeed, researchers found that after giving people a dose of nitrate equivalent to a few servings of spinach or beets, their resting metabolic rates slowed on average about 4 percent. Thatís nearly a hundred calories a day. If our bodies burned that many fewer calories each yet we didnít eat any less, we could put on a few pounds. Of course, green leafy vegetables may be the healthiest food on the planet, so we shouldnít decrease our greens intake to try to control our weight. So whatís going on? Researchers think perhaps it was a way our body evolved to use vegetables to help preserve energy during lean times in our ancient past. That is, slowing our metabolism may have benefits for our longevity.

What else similarly slows our metabolism? Caloric restriction, such as eating every other day. This may be one reason why caloric restriction is associated with a longer lifespan in many animals. Maybe like a candle, burning with a smaller flame allows us to last longer. It’s hard to walk around starving all the time, but itís easy to replicate that same metabolic benefit by eating a big salad every day.

This may be why eating leafy green vegetables is among the six most powerful things we can do to live longer, along with not smoking, not drinking heavily, walking at least an hour a day, getting seven hours of sleep a day, and achieving an ideal weight. Doing even just one of these six may cut our risk of premature death by around 20 to 25 percent.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my free videos†here†and watch my live, year-in-review presentationsó2015:†Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016:†How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

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99 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jack Y
Jack Y4 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y4 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J4 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J4 months ago

thanks for sharing

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natasha p
Past Member 8 months ago

me love veggies!11

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Leo C
Leo C8 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Doris F
Doris F8 months ago

noted

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Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs8 months ago

Thank you for sharing,

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Janis K
Janis K8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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