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Boost Your Metabolism All Day Long

By Ben Kallen
Click here for more great resources, tools and information from Team Beachbody to help you reach your health, fitness and lifestyle goals!

When you want to create a lean, firm body, the best way to accomplish it is with an effective workout program and a healthy eating plan. But that's not the end of the story . . . . Because no matter how much you're putting into your exercise sessions, practicing a range of healthy habits the rest of the time can give your metabolism an even bigger kick.

Athlete

So here's a full day's worth of metabolism boosters. Any one of them may have a relatively minor effect, but when put together, they're bound to help your body burn fat more efficiently. Add these tips to your weight loss arsenal, and you'll get the results you want as quickly as possible.

Morning

  1. Man Getting SunGet some sun. A little outdoor time in the morning can help you slim down in three ways. First, bright light helps regulate your body clock, so you'll be more energetic during the day and sleep better at night. Second, during the winter months, sunshine helps ward off SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a condition that can lead to uncontrolled food cravings. And third, sunlight on your skin increases your levels of vitamin D, which are associated with a higher metabolism and a lower risk of obesity. (While sunscreen cuts down on your natural vitamin D production, experts warn that you shouldn't spend much time outside without it. You can also get more D by taking multivitamins, drinking fortified milk, and eating fatty fish.)

  2. Eat a good breakfast. Research has shown that a filling breakfast that includes both lean protein and complex carbohydrates helps you burn fat all day (and keeps you satisfied longer, too). In a study presented to the Endocrine Society, dieters who ate hearty breakfasts stuck to their food plans and ended up losing more weight than those who didn't, despite the fact that their daily caloric intake was actually slightly higher.

  3. GrapefruitAnd add some grapefruit. There's a reason grapefruit diets have never gone out of fashion. In a recent study in the journal Diabetes, mice on a high-fat diet that were given naringenin—a flavonoid chemical that gives grapefruit its slightly bitter taste—didn't gain weight, while others on the same diet did. And a study conducted at the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic found that half a grapefruit before each meal helped obese people drop more than 3 pounds over 12 weeks. (Consult your doctor if you're taking any medications—large amounts of grapefruit can change the way they're metabolized by your body.)

  4. Have a hot beverage. As you've surely heard by now, regular consumption of green or oolong tea can raise your metabolism by as much as 5 percent. But plain old java gives your fat-burning ability a boost too. Green coffee beans have been found to boost your metabolism through the combination of caffeine and something called chlorogenic acid. While roasting lowers the amount of this chemical, according to the Coffee Science Information Centre, a light roast retains more than a dark roast.

    Whatever you drink, don't overdo it, and keep the additives to a minimum—the calories in cream and sugar, or a coffeehouse latte, can far outweigh any fat-burning benefits.

Midday

  1. Teenager Running Up the StairsTake the stairs. Your daily workout will do more than anything else to burn fat and build lean muscle. But that doesn't mean you should be a slug the rest of the time. A highly publicized British study found that kids who were very active during physical education classes were that much less active throughout the day, which suggests that you may need to make a conscious effort to move your body when you're not working out, including taking such simple steps as walking everywhere you can and using stairs rather than elevators. Even relatively brief periods of exercise will help keep your metabolism revving at a higher level.

  2. Snack on nuts. All nuts (including peanuts, which aren't technically nuts, but whatever) are fairly high in calories, but they're also full of nutrients, especially protein and healthful fats. In a study at Purdue University, when people added 500 calories of peanuts to their daily diets, they ate less during meals and increased their resting metabolic rates by 11 percent. You don't need to eat so many, though. Just an ounce at a time will go a long way toward boosting your metabolism and keeping you satisfied.

  3. Shop in the outer aisles of the grocery store. Most supermarkets are laid out in similar ways: produce, meats, fish, dairy products, and other fresh, whole foods are along the outside edges, while processed, boxed, and canned foods are in the inner aisles. Shop on the perimeter first, and you'll end up with nutritious ingredients that will fuel your muscles while keeping you full—and because they're higher in fiber and protein and lower in starch, you can eat more of them and still lose weight.

  4. Take time to relax. Stress can take a toll on your metabolism. When scientists at Georgetown University fed two groups of mice a high-fat, high-sugar diet, the ones under stress gained more than twice as much weight as the low-stress group. If your job (or any other part of your life) leaves you feeling like a mouse in a cage, try to find ways of cutting down on stress. At some point during the day, take a break for meditation, yoga, or just sitting in a peaceful place and thinking about something pleasant.

Nighttime

  1. Apple, Measuring Tape, and ScaleWatch your eating. If you're like most people, your activity level slows down at night, and so does your metabolism. And yet there's also a tendency to eat a lot at this time, either by having a big dinner or snacking in front of the TV, or both. If you're overeating due to stress or boredom, the evening is a good time to concentrate on healthful dietary habits.

  2. Hold the hooch. Your body loves alcohol—so much so, in fact, that it'll burn its byproducts as fuel before anything else. That means that while you're processing alcohol, you're not burning fat. Of course, alcoholic beverages also have calories, virtually none of which are good for anything other than helping you gain weight.

  3. Turn off your screens. At least 2 hours before bedtime, dim the lights, put away your computer, and turn off your video games. Bright lights, including those from computer screens, can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, an antioxidant hormone that builds up in the evening and helps you sleep. Research has shown that higher levels of melatonin are associated with lower levels of body fat.

  4. Catch your z's. While you're asleep, your body is hard at work producing hormones responsible for weight loss, muscle gain, and glucose metabolism. Studies have found that consistently getting less than the optimal 8 or so hours per night leads to a lower metabolism and a higher body mass. If you find yourself getting sleepy during the day, going to bed just an hour earlier could make a significant difference in your waistline.

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