Boost Your Metabolism All
Day Long By Ben Kallen
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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
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.
Get 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.)
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.
And 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.)
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.
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
Take 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.
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
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.
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
Watch 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.
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.
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.
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.