Weight Loss and Your Metabolism

Boosting Your Metabolism

Although you can't control how many calories your body uses to keep you breathing and your heart beating, there are some things you can do to boost your metabolism. The keys to getting your body to burn more calories include a couple of changes in your routine, including what you eat and how much you exercise.
What does this mean? Get up and get moving. This doesn't mean you have to go to extremes, even just becoming more active during the day will help burn more calories. This can mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the far end of the parking lot, or even taking a walk during your breaks.
With time, you can do a little more and increase the intensity of your physical activity. In general, a good goal is to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical exercise into your daily routine. If you are trying to lose weight, you may need to increase this amount.
Also, try to include some strength training exercises, such as lifting weights, to help build muscle. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat, so your muscle mass plays a role in weight loss as well.
Because the majority of your metabolism runs on a natural process, your body will automatically balance these processes to meet your needs. So if you go to extreme measures and do a "starvation" diet, your body goes into "survival mode" and will compensate by slowing down these metabolic processes to conserve calories. Therefore, a good tip for keeping that metabolism running at optimal speed is to not skip meals.
It may also help to eat a good breakfast. In fact, some research has shown that people who eat 22 percent to 55 percent of their total daily calories at breakfast gained less weight over four years compared to those who ate 0 percent to 11 percent of their calories in the morning. Also, those who skip breakfast may be more likely to overeat later, which can lead to packing in more calories than you should.
Some other ways that may help to stimulate your metabolism include:
  • Coffee: It may not be a surprise to many, but having a cup of coffee stimulates your central nervous system. This increases your heart rate and breathing, which in turn causes your body to burn more calories.
  • Protein: Choosing protein-rich foods can help build lean muscle mass, which helps burn more calories. As an added bonus, protein helps you feel fuller faster, preventing you from overeating.
  • Drink ice-cold water: Some research has shown that your body may burn a few extra calories heating the ice-cold water you drink to your core temperature.
  • Green tea: Green tea contains a certain plant compound called epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC), which is claimed to promote fat burning. Some research has shown that drinking three to five cups of green tea a day for 12 weeks can decrease body weight by 4.6 percent.
  • Calcium: If you have one of those days where you overindulge in your favorite fatty food, try following it up with a calcium-rich food such as milk or low-fat yogurt. Why? The calcium supposedly helps your body more efficiently metabolize the fat, increasing the rate your body gets rid of it as waste.
  • Spice things up: If you enjoy chili peppers, you're going to love this tip. It turns out that the compound that gives chili peppers their spiciness (capsaicin) can also pep up your metabolism. Chilies supposedly raise your body's heat production along with your sympathetic nervous system. While these peppers may be small, they pack quite a punch, causing a temporary metabolism spike of around 23 percent.
  • Fish supplements before exercise: Some research has shown that combining fish oil supplements with exercise boosts the activity of fat-burning enzymes.
  • Keep your happy hour to one drink: Drinking two glasses of wine or beer can bring your body's fat-burning ability to a screeching halt. This is because your liver converts alcohol into acetate, which your body will use as fuel instead of your fat stores.
  • Sleep tight: Sleeping less than 7.5 hours a night can throw off the amounts of leptin and ghrelin your body produces. These important hormones help control energy use and appetite. Studies have shown that those who don't get those eight hours of sleep experience an increase in body mass index (BMI).  
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