Tag Archives: genetics

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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11 unexpected causes of depression

Surprising causese of depressionAbout six months ago, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It’s a condition that is characterized by abnormally low thyroid hormone production.

I had decided to go to the doctor because I had no motivation to do anything and was extremely fatigued. Some days, I was taking two or three naps a day. I didn’t even want to do the things I enjoy doing. In addition, I had a weird bald spot in my hair, lack of appetite and severe mood swings.

I really thought my doctor was going to tell me I was depressed. It seemed like I had many of the typical symptoms. I have since discovered that there are several things that trigger depression, or even mimic depression.

Depression can be brought on by ongoing difficulties, such as a major trauma, grief or serious life-changing events. Often, a combination of events or personal factors will build up and lead to depression. A change in the chemicals in our brains is also believed to contribute to depression.

Here are 11 unexpected, and maybe even surprising, causes of depression:

Genetics
If you have an immediate family member who has suffered from depression, you have a three times higher chance of being depressed than someone who doesn’t have a family history.

Lack of sunshine
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is more than just wishing for warm weather during the gloomy winter months. We need sunshine to help keep our body’s internal clock functioning like it should. Daily exposure to just 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine can be enough to reap the benefits.

Omega-3 deficiency
If you don’t eat enough omega-3 fatty acids, you can be at an increased risk for depression. To get your omegas, just eat fatty fish – like salmon, sardines and tuna – as well as canola oil or walnuts.

Poor sleeping habits
Chronic lack of sleep can desensitize your brain to the effects of serotonin, a chemical that helps control your mood and feelings of well-being. Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to help stave off depression.

Too much social networking
People who are addicted to the Internet are more likely to become depressed. They spend too much time in chat rooms or using social media sites like Facebook. These sites serve as a replacement for real-life socializing. Get out and talk to real people! Looking up health information online can also lead to an increased focus on health problems and contribute to depression.

Medications
Depression is a side effect of many medications. Be sure to check the side effects of any new medications you take. You should also check with your doctor when combining more than one medication to see if there are risks. Even oral contraceptives can contribute to depression in women. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of depression when taking a new medicine.

Worrying too much
The habit of mentally dwelling on your problems can lead to depression. I am guilty of doing this. If I have an argument with someone or feel like I may have said something to hurt another person’s feelings, I will play that conversation over and over in my head until I have blown it out of proportion. I have to work at distracting myself to break the cycle and realize that I am usually creating stress out of nothing.

Poor relationships
You may have friends or co-workers who are a negative influence on you. Over time, the negative attitudes of others can wear off on you. Depression can even be contagious. Spending time with a depressed person can lead to similar depressive symptoms in you. Find a few upbeat friends who can outweigh the negative emotions that might be swirling around you.

Financial troubles
Tough economic times will bring anyone down. Going through a particularly rough financial patch, such as unemployment, a home foreclosure or bankruptcy, can be extremely stressful. It is not surprising that these trying financial events could lead to depression.

Being overweight
Adults who are overweight have an increased risk of being depressed. We are under so much pressure in our society to look a certain way, and thinness is considered the ideal. It’s more important to focus on creating healthy habits, including eating right and exercising regularly. No matter what your weight, you feel better about yourself if you know you are working at being more healthy.

Underactive thyroid
The link between an underactive thyroid and depression has been documented. Up to 50% of people with hypothyroidism will have some depression-like symptoms. It’s worth having your thyroid hormone levels checked if you are feeling depressed, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, dry skin, cold sensitivity or hair loss.

By taking thyroid medicine every day, my hormone levels have returned to the normal range. While it means taking a pill every morning, I happy to say that I feel like my old self again!