Tag Archives: caffeine

9 Ways to Burn More Calories

burn-300-caloriesLike most Americans, I am always searching for quick and easy ways to boost my metabolism. Is there really anything we can do to increase the number of calories our bodies burn each day?

The simple answer: yes and no. There is no magic trick to burning calories. Your age, gender and genetics play a role in your metabolism. You may inherit a speedy metabolism. Men tend to burn calories more easily than women. And, for most of us, metabolism slows steadily after the age of 40.

So, what can you do? The best way to burn calories is the old fashioned way: by moving more.

However, research suggests that there may be other ways to amp up your metabolism. Here are 9 ways to burn more calories:

Get Active
Energy is burned when you move. From making your bed in the morning to lifting your arm to push the remote control at night, you are burning calories. Simple daily activity can account for 30% of the calories you burn each day. So, get moving! The more active you are each day, the better.

Build Muscle
While you can burn calories when you’re doing nothing, the resting metabolic rate is higher in people with more muscle. For every pound of muscle you put on, your body uses about 50 extra calories a day. Training with weights 3 times a week for just 20 minutes is enough to build muscle.

Add Protein
Your body can burn more calories when digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. To create a balanced diet, replace some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods. Good sources of protein include lean meats, such as beef, turkey, fish and white meat chicken. You can also add protein to your diet with nuts, beans, eggs, tofu and low-fat dairy products.

Snack smart
Eating more frequently can help you lose weight. When you eat 3 large meals a day with several hours between them, your metabolism slows down in between. Having smaller meals or snacks every 3 or 4 hours can help keep your metabolism going at a steady pace throughout the day. In addition, small snacks help you eat less at mealtimes.

Hydrate
We know that water is good for our health. Your body also needs water to process calories. If you become even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In studies, adults who drink 8 or more glasses of water burned more calories than those who drank four glasses.

Spice it up
Spicy foods have natural chemicals that can rev up your metabolism. Eat foods spiced up with chopped red or green chili pepper, order Thai food or spice up pasta dishes, chili and stews with red pepper flakes. Spicy foods can spike up your metabolism by 23 percent.

Drink coffee
Caffeine is a stimulant and can help you burn more calories. In moderation, one of coffee’s benefits may be a short-term rise in your metabolic rate. Caffeine can also help you feel less tired and increase your endurance while exercising or give you the motivation to get moving!

Sip tea
Green and black tea may have calorie-burning effects beyond the caffeine they contain. Green tea contains catechins – substances that rev up your metabolism for a couple of hours. Drinking tea at meals may have another fat-fighting benefit. Tea extract may interfere with the body’s absorption of carbohydrates when eaten in the same meal.

Get fidgety
Fidgeting qualifies as movement and can help you burn more calories. What counts as fidgeting? Anything that keeps you moving! You can tap your feet, swing your legs, drum your fingers, pace, wriggle, stand up and stretch, move your head from side to side, or clench and release your muscles.

It’s easy to work these tips for burning calories into your daily routine. And, if you do nothing else, get moving! Make it a point every day to find more ways to be physically active.

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10 Common Habits That Get You Hooked

hook-485885-mYou probably have activities that you love to do. What you may not realize is that normal hobbies and habits can turn into an addiction.

When you hear the word addiction, your mind may automatically think of dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. But, the definition of addiction may surprise you. According to Wikipedia, “Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.

That means you can also become addicted to “behaviors.” Something that starts out as fun turns into a habit, and then becomes a compulsion.

Here are 10 surprising things you may be addicted to:

The Internet
You may think that browsing the internet is just a fun way to pass the time. However, studies have shown that internet addiction actually alters the brain in ways that are similar to the affects of drug and alcohol addiction. An addiction to the internet involves loss of control, as well as negative consequences at home and at work.

Smartphones
Smartphones are another new habit that can become an addiction. You keep it with you all the time and check it every few minutes. You ignore in-person interactions to catch a text or a post from someone you haven’t seen in years. You work too much because you’re constantly checking your phone. Put the phone down and have a conversation!

Coffee
You may not realize that caffeine is a drug. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I want coffee. I am on edge without it and will get a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Coffee, soda and energy drinks can all be overused. As long as you don’t overdo it, your caffeine habit can be harmless.

Sugar
Many people get sugar cravings. Foods high in carbs, fats and sugar can affect your brain just like drugs do. You may be craving a chocolate candy bar or an ice cream cone. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted, but your sweet tooth can get out of control and contribute to other health problems.

Shopping
I admit it. I have a shopping addiction. I love clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets and more. I just enjoy the act of shopping. When you shop, it may lift you up when you’re feeling down or just make you happy. That’s because your brain actually releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Chronic shopping may also mean you have impulse-control problems or anxiety issues. Shopping too often can also lead to financial, social or deeper emotional problems.

Tanning
You can become addicted to the sun. The ultraviolet spectrum of sunlight releases chemicals in your body called endorphins. They make you feel good. You may also feel like you’re never tan enough no matter how tan you get. This may be a sign of an obsessive-compulsive or body dysmorphic disorder.

Gambling
Of the behavioral addictions, gambling is the one most closely related to drug and alcohol addiction. Gambling lights up the same areas in the brain as drug addictions. You may bet on an office pool, gamble online or gamble more seriously at slot machines, poker tables, or off track betting. If you’re not lucky, betting can wreak havoc on your finances, job and family life.

Work
As I sit here writing this on a Saturday morning, it’s possible that I am addicted to work. While most of the work world looks forward to weekends, those who have an addiction may find themselves working nights and weekends. While we joke about being a “workaholic,” it can jeopardize a person’s health and relationships.

Videos games
Can’t put down the video game console? Do you think about playing games while doing other activities? Research shows that boys and men most commonly have a video game addiction. If you’re shirking responsibilities, work or social activities to play video games, you may be addicted. With games becoming more realistic and challenging, it’s even harder to separate fantasy from reality.

Food
Food can become a problem if you’re eating to ease emotions, overeating while alone and then feeling guilty after the binge. While food can seem like a drug for people with eating disorders, it’s not considered a true addiction. It’s important to develop healthy eating habits and avoid issues with food.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Any activity or habit can become an issue if it begins to control your life. It’s important to find balance in everything you do. If you discover that you’re hooked on a behavior and it’s having negative consequences, it may be time to make a change!

10 Habits That Are Zapping Your Energy

too-tired-1752-mAre you tired of being tired all the time? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks. I feel like I’m slogging through the days and fighting to stay awake.

It comes as no surprise to me that many of our habits that can drain our energy are also the same habits that cause us to feel like our lives are out of balance. We need to get back to the basic foundation blocks of living a balanced life.

Feeling tired not only robs you of your productivity and pleasure, it can also make you no fun to be around. The good news is that fixing your fatigue and lack of ambition may be as easy as making a few, simple lifestyle changes.

Here are 10 ways you can change your habits and put more pep in your step and energy back in your day:

Drink more water
We all know we need to drink more water, but how much to drink is more difficult to determine. Even if you’re not dehydrated, you can still experience the negative effects of not drinking enough water. Being tired and cranky can be a sign that you need to drink more. Water flushes out toxins, keeps tissues hydrated and increases your energy level. If it’s difficult for you to drink water all day, mix it up with 100% fruit juices, nonfat milk or unsweetened tea (preferably herbal or decaffeinated).

Eat smart
If you feel that your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day, it may make sense for you to eat five or six small meals a day. This strategy can help your blood-sugar level remain constant and give you a steady amount of fuel all day. Just remember that you still need to maintain the same calorie intake for the day, simply spread it out over smaller meals. You will find that your energy level stays more balanced.

Cut the sugar
While sugar gives you a quick energy boost, it also drops you back down hard when it runs out. Then, you start craving that energy high again. Along with eating small meals a day, try to avoid the sugar rush and keep healthy snacks on hand. By combining a few ounces of protein with complex carbohydrates, you can keep your blood sugar more stable and boost your energy levels. For instance, snack on whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese, fresh fruit, lean turkey or chicken, or nonfat yogurt.

Watch the caffeine
Caffeine increases your energy levels, but it also takes away more energy than it’s giving. Like eating sugar or big meals, caffeine will boost your energy, but too much can cause a rebound effect and lead to fatigue. The best option is to quit caffeine by gradually reducing your intake However, if you can’t cut out caffeine completely, at least stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evenings.

Get more sleep
The need to drink caffeine during the day can also be the result of not getting enough sleep at night. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at the same time every night will put you on track for being rested and alert. Make it a habit to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. You can strengthen your sleep patterns and get a better night’s sleep.

Lose the clutter
Being disorganized or having clutter in your home or workplace can make you feel lethargic, as well as lacking in enthusiasm and optimism. Trying to remember where things are and searching for lost or misplaced things can be a huge drain both emotionally and physically. It’s important to cope with clutter so you can be more productive and quickly move on to doing more fun things.

Stop stressing
Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. Conflict and stress can quickly deplete your energy and rob you of your ambition. Managing your stress levels is the best option. When you make time to take care of your inner self, you will find that you are able recharge and boost your energy. Relaxation takes different forms for different people. For you, it may mean sitting in silence, taking a walk and appreciating nature, working out or taking a bubble bath.

Move your body
With fitness, there are actually two ways to zap your energy. First, you can simply not exercise. Physical activity can energize us physically, emotionally and mentally. Without it, we are naturally more sluggish. Exercise also releases endorphins that make you feel good and enhance your mood. On the other hand, too much exercise can also cause problems. Over-training depletes your energy reserves, breaks down muscle, and makes you weaker not stronger. Find a balance by creating a healthy, fitness routine.

Say no
Do you say yes to everything? Spending time doing things you don’t really want to do can be another energy drainer. Think about how you spend your time each day. Do you do things that fuel you? Or do you spend your time on activities that deplete you? If you raise your awareness of where your energy is going, you can learn to say no to the things that deplete your energy. Then, energy can flow back into your life.

Make time for yourself
One of the ways to bring energy back in your life is to make time for yourself. Do things that make you happy and energize you. For instance, read a good book, go on a date night with your spouse, spend time with your kids, hang out with friends, focus on the good things, meditate or get a massage.

You can keep your energy levels in balance by creating more healthy habits that also will bring your life as a whole into balance. You can regain and maintain your missing energy!

Why are you so tired?

Reason's why you're tiredDo you find yourself yawning during the day? (You just yawned, didn’t you?) Would you like to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon? It’s not surprising that we often feel tired.

I know my habits are not the best. I try to do too many things in a single day. I stay up late to watch my favorite shows on DVR. I am stressed and end up getting out of bed early in the morning to get a jump on the day.

Yet, it could be other things that are making us tired. Here are 12 reasons why you might be feeling so fatigued:

You need more sleep
Most of us don’t get enough sleep. We stay up late watching TV, working or surfing the internet on our computer, tablet or smartphone. We get up early to get started on the work day. You should get about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Avoid caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed. Turn off the TV before bed and make your bedroom an oasis for sleeping.

You’re wired
Research has shown that using computers, tablets and mobile phones right before bed may interfere with your sleep patterns, leading to less time spent in the deeper sleep stages. Keep the gadgets out of your bedroom and stop using them about an hour before bed.

You have too much stress
Normally, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol will run higher in the morning and dip down at night. This pattern helps you keep a normal daily rhythm. Chronic stress can throw that pattern out of whack. If your cortisol levels stay high all day, it will disrupt your sleep. Try to be conscious of your stress level and do what you can to keep yourself at a moderate level.

You’re under-stressed
You may not have realized that being too laid back can also make you feel more tired. Moderate stress stimulates you and helps boost your immune system. Also, having tasks you need to accomplish can motivate you to stay active. If there’s nothing you are looking forward to doing or excited about, it’s much easier to decide that you are tired.

You’re dehydrated
A healthy woman who doesn’t replace just 1.5% of her water weight can experience mood swings and lower energy levels. Make sure you drink plenty of water based on the weather and your workouts.

You need more exercise
Too much time spent being sedentary can make you feel more tired even though you aren’t using as much energy. Think about it: You have a stressful day at work and that amps up your cortisol and blood glucose levels. Then, you spend the evening at your computer or on the couch watching TV. Your body doesn’t have a chance to release that energy and tension. This keeps you in a revved up state at night and disrupts your sleep. You can see that it’s a vicious cycle that keeps you tired.

So, get moving. Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week can fight off fatigue and give you more energy. You will also sleep better and feel more rested.

You’re depressed
If you have feelings of exhaustion along with sadness and loss of appetite, you may depressed. You may have lost the pleasure in doing things you used to love. If you have these symptoms, you should talk to a doctor or therapist to help you get back to feeling better.

You have a poor diet
Your eating habits can also contribute to your fatigue. Relying on carbs and sugars to get you through the day can make you feel sluggish. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein can help you boost your energy levels.

You’re over-caffeinated
Caffeine can help you be more alert and focused in moderate amounts. However, too much caffeine can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as give you the jitters. If you decide to cut back on your caffeine intake, do so gradually. If you stop suddenly, it can cause headaches and even more fatigue.

You take medication
Many medicines can have side effects of making you feel fatigued. Some examples include certain groups of antidepressants and beta-blockers that are used for migraines and high blood pressure. If you notice that you are feeling more fatigued after you start a new medicine, talk to your doctor about alternatives.

You have low iron or B12
If your iron is low, you could have anemia. Your body struggles to function properly to remove wastes from your cells, and you feel worn out. If you’re feeling sluggish, you can ask your doctor for a simple blood test to see if you should take a supplement.

If you have fatigue with forgetfulness, restless legs, and numbness or tingling, you could have a B12 deficiency. You can take supplements to raise your B12 levels.

You have a disorder
Under and over active thyroid can cause fatigue. A blood test can check your level of thyroid stimulating hormone needed for proper thyroid function. If you are draggy with blurred vision and lots of urination, you could have diabetes. Tiredness is also a sign of heart trouble. If exercising makes you feel worse, then you definitely need to see a doctor.

Are you feeling tired after reading this blog? Do you feel like you could have one or more of these problems? I would start with the basics. Take a look at your sleep patterns, diet, exercise routine and stress levels to see if you need to adjust any of them. If you’re still feeling fatigued, it might be a good idea to talk with your doctor.