01/04/2012 02:28 EST | Updated 03/06/2012 05:12 EST

Five Foods That Kick Your Metabolism Into Overdrive, Naturally!

We often hear the word "metabolism" when it comes to weight loss and dieting. But, what is a metabolism and why do we care so much to "boost it?"

In short, metabolism is the amount of energy or calories our bodies burn to maintain vital function. Whether we are sleeping, working, relaxing or exercising, our bodies are constantly burning calories.

Metabolism is a very complex process, so it is easiest to think of it as something that affects how easily our bodies lose or gain weight. The faster our metabolism, the more efficiently we burn calories from the foods we eat. The slower our metabolism, the fewer calories we burn and the more calories we store as fat.

The goal is to increase our metabolic rate in order to burn more calories and prevent storing too many calories as fat.

So how do you increase your metabolic rate naturally, you might ask? By consuming these five amazing metabolism-boosting foods!

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an amazing fat burner and is beneficial for weight loss!

How it works:

• It acts as an appetite suppressant, preventing you from overeating.

Increases your body's metabolic rate, allowing you to burn calories more efficiently.

• Helps to alkalize the body, preventing you from becoming too acidic, which can

support weight loss.

How to use it:

• Drink 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before each meal.

• Choose high quality organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar.

2. High Quality H20

Water is super important for weight loss and your overall health. Studies show that water can increase metabolism by up to 30 per cent. Our metabolism spikes as cold water enters the body. Cold water must be warmed up in the stomach before being absorbed, and this warming process is what causes metabolism to skyrocket.

Why is water so important?

• Some believe it helps to flush toxins and fat from the cells in your body, which in turn will help you lose weight.

• Water helps the digestive process and prevents chronic constipation. If your bowels aren't working properly, you may feel bloated and pack on unwanted pounds.

• Without water, the metabolic process would not take place, and we would cease to exist!

How much water do you need?

• Each person's water needs are different.

• To figure out the right amount for you, divide your weight by two and that is the number of ounces you should be drinking each day. (Ex. If you weigh 160 pounds: 160/2 = 80oz/day.)

3. Lemons

Lemons are amazing for your health! Not only do they help protect your immune system and alkalize your body, but they also work to boost your metabolism and aid with weight loss.

How do lemons help you lose weight?

• Lemons help to increase your metabolic rate, thus allowing you to burn more calories and store less fat.

• They work to slow down the rate of starch digestion, helping to keep blood sugar balanced. This prevents spikes in insulin and reduces fat storage.

• Starting your day with some lemon water helps to ignite metabolism and give your body a kick start for the day

• Add lemon to your tea, salad dressing or squeeze some on top of your favorite meal.

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper can stimulate metabolism up to 20 per cent and is a great spice for weight loss!

How it works

• Cayenne pepper stimulates metabolism by heating up your body, thus burning more calories.

• It stimulates your body's metabolic rate and also helps to clean fat out of the arteries.

5. Green tea

Green tea is a delicious, warm beverage that helps to boost metabolism and aid with weight loss.

How it works

• Green tea can help increase metabolic rate, while also improving fat oxidation. This can contribute greatly to weight loss.

• The polyphenols found in green tea work to increase thermogenesis (the rate at which calories are burned), and therefore raises metabolism.

Tip: Consume green tea instead of coffee or other coffee-type, sugar-filled beverages. Dropping your coffee habit can have a dramatic, positive effect on your waistline!