Weekly Wellness: How to speed up your metabolism
COLUMBIA - We have talked about metabolism many times. And here we go again. Metabolism is the sum of everything your body does. Each time you eat, enzymes in your body's cells break down the food and turn it into the energy that keeps your heart beating, your mind thinking and your legs churning during a grueling workout. The faster your metabolism runs, the more calories you burn. The more you burn, the easier it is to drop pounds. Let’s speed up our metabolism, shall we?
1. Eat (a good) breakfast every single day: If you don't, your body goes into starvation mode (it's paranoid like that), so your metabolism slows to a crawl to conserve energy. The heartier your first meal is, the better. A meal that consists of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats is best.
In one study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, volunteers who got 22 to 55 percent of their total calories at breakfast gained only 1.7 pounds on average over four years. Those who ate zero to 11 percent of their calories in the morning gained nearly three pounds. In another study published in the same journal, volunteers who reported regularly skipping breakfast had 4.5 times the risk of obesity as those who took the time to eat.
2. Drink coffee: A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over that of those who drank decaf. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing.
3. Drink your water cold: Researchers at the University of Utah found that volunteers who drank 8 to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water per day had higher metabolic rates than those who quaffed only four glasses. And your body may burn a few more calories if the water is colder. Sure, the extra calories you burn drinking a single glass doesn't amount to much, making it a habit can add up to pounds lost with essentially zero additional effort.
4. Pick protein for lunch: Cramming protein into every meal helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat does, even at rest. Aim for about 30 grams of protein (i.e. one cup of low-fat cottage cheese or a four-ounce boneless chicken breast) at each meal.
5. Drink green tea: Green tea contains a plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning. In one study, people who consumed the equivalent of three to five cups a day for 12 weeks decreased their body weight by 4.6 percent. According to other studies, consuming two to four cups of green tea per day may torch an extra 50 calories. That translates into about five pounds per year. For maximum effect, let your tea steep for three minutes and drink it while it's still hot.
6. Consume your dairy: Calcium helps your body metabolize fat more efficiently by increasing the rate at which it gets rid of fat as waste (yes, that kind), reports a study from the University of Copenhagen. Sorry, supplements don't have the same effect.
7. Choose organic produce: Researchers in Canada found that dieters with the most organochlorides (chemicals found in pesticides) stored in their fat cells were the most susceptible to disruptions in mitochondrial activity and thyroid function. Translation: Their metabolism stalled.
8. Eat spicy foods: Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body's production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. The result: a temporary metabolism spike of about 23 percent.
9. Ladies: Pay attention to your iron intake: Women lose iron every month, which can affect your metabolism because iron helps carry oxygen to your muscles. So if your levels run low, muscles don't get enough O2, your energy dips and your metabolism can suffer. Consume fortified cereals, beans, and dark leafy greens like spinach and broccoli.
10. Interval train: In one Australian study, female volunteers either rode a stationary bike for 40 minutes at a steady pace or for 20 minutes of intervals, alternating eight seconds of sprints and 12 seconds of easy pedaling. After 15 weeks, those who incorporated the sprints into their cardio workouts had lost three times as much body fat (including thigh and belly flab) compared with those who exercised at a steady pace. Whether you ride, run, or row, try ramping things up to rev your burn: Start by doing three eight-second all-out, can't-talk sprints with 12 seconds at an easy pace between each effort. Work your way up until you can do 10 sprints over 20 minutes.
11. Slow it down in the gym: When you strength train, count to three as you lower the weight back to the start position. Slowing things down increases the breakdown of muscle tissue. The repair process pumps up your metabolism for as long as 72 hours after your session, according to researchers at Wayne State University. Make sure you are using weights that are heavy enough.
12. Take fish-oil supplements: Combining regular exercise with fish-oil supplements increases the activity of your fat-burning enzymes, reports a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Volunteers took six grams of fish oil daily and worked out three times a week and after 12 weeks had lost an average of 3.4 pounds. Look for brands containing at least 300 milligrams of the fatty acid EPA and 200 milligrams of the fatty acid DHA per capsule. Take 2 two hours before your workout.
13. Eat fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are loaded with hunger-quashing omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats help trigger signals to your brain that indicate that you are fuller faster (and less likely to overeat). Also, a 3.5-ounce serving of salmon nets you 90 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin D, which will help preserve your muscle tissue.
14. Avoid too much booze: Drinking two mixed drinks (or two glasses of wine or two bottles of beer) can negatively affect your body’s ability to burn fat by 73 percent. That's because your liver converts the alcohol into acetate and starts using that as fuel instead of your fat stores, report researchers from the University of California, Berkeley.
15. You need sleep: When you sleep less than you should, you throw off the amounts of leptin and ghrelin — hormones that help regulate energy use and appetite — that your body produces. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who snoozed fewer than 7.5 hours per night experienced an increase in their body mass index. So make sure you get at least eight hours of rest.