Tag Archives: metabolism

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 holiday diet mistakes to avoid

Eat healthy balanced diet during holidaysI am feeling pretty guilty after attending many scrumptious feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate a little bit of everything and then had some more.

Like many Americans, I am now in panic mode as Christmas and New Year’s approach. These holidays bring more opportunities to overeat and make poor food choices. Not to mention, I will meet up with friends and relatives I don’t see very often, and I want to look my best.

At times like this, many of us turn to diets and less than healthy eating habits in hopes of looking and feeling better by the next round of holiday gatherings.

Here are 10 diet habits you should avoid and tips on what you should do instead:

Skipping breakfast
While skipping breakfast seems like a good way to cut calories, it can sabotage the rest of your day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast that is high in fiber and protein can help you feel more full throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Ignoring food groups
Different diet plans call for avoiding different types of foods. The latest fad may mean leaving out gluten, carbs, meat, dairy, sugar or fats. Yet, we need all of these nutrients for a balanced diet and for our bodies to work properly. Even dairy may help our bodies burn more fat by supplying calcium.

Forgetting about snacks
We often consider snacking a bad habit, but eating healthy, nutritious snacks actually helps  control hunger and aids in weight loss. Snacking on a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or some veggies can keep you on track and make those bad choices less appealing.

On the other hand, too much nibbling can be detrimental to your good eating habits. You grab a pastry and iced coffee at the morning meeting. You snack on pretzels at your desk. You finish your child’s chocolate shake. All of these extra calories can add up throughout the day.

Drinking diet sodas
It can be tempting to fill up on diet sodas. The fizzy drinks make you feel full and can taste good, too. Diet sodas may actually be sabotaging your weight loss. It has been found that artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

The answer: drink more water. Water is essential for burning calories. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. When you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, you burn more calories.

Starving yourself
When people want to lose weight fast, they tend to think that eating less will get the best results. By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you actually send your body into starvation mode, and it starts storing fat to get you through the lean times. A better approach is to make a modest cut to calorie intake and then maintain that level for a long period of time.

Cutting out the fat
It isn’t so much the fat we eat that causes weight gain as much as it’s the total amount of calories and bad fats that lead to health problems. We need to cut down on the trans and saturated fats found in meat and processed foods. We still need to include good fats in our diets, such as those found in olive oil and fatty foods.

Thinking good calories don’t count
We think because some foods are good for us, we can eat as much as we want. However, you still need to keep your total calorie intake in mind. Just because whole grains, beans, chicken and cheese are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat 10 tacos in one meal. Even fruits and veggies eaten in excess can be converted to fat.

Leaving out exercise
When we get busy with preparing for the holidays, it may be easier to drop your exercise routine so that you can fit more into your busy days. Yet, if you keep up your exercise routine, you can eat more of the things you enjoy and still lose weight. Exercise can also help you relieve the stress brought on by the hectic holiday season.

Setting unrealistic goals
Deciding you want to lose 30 pounds between now and Christmas is probably unrealistic. You need to set a more realistic goal, such as planning to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You should also set other goals, such as running a mile without stopping or swimming a certain amount of laps in the pool. You will feel pride and accomplishment without relying solely on weight loss.

Using a diet at all
For the most part, I feel like “diet” is a bit of a four-letter word. Any time you are being deprived of food, you are more likely to fail in your eating habits. It’s more important to change your lifestyle and create a balance among all of the aspects of living a healthy life. You need to make healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and relieving stress into habits that you can live with every day.

How to rev up your metabolism

Rev up your metabolismYou probably know someone who eats constantly, yet never seems to gain any weight. Metabolism – and good genes – may be part of the reason. In fact, one of the key factors in losing weight is your rate of metabolism.

The good news is you may not be stuck with your metabolism. More research is showing that you can get your body to burn calories more efficiently.

We recently wrote a blog about how to lose weight safely and effectively. You may be able to take more control of your weight loss and rev up your metabolism by adding some of these boosters to your routine:

Eat breakfast
You’ve gone all night without eating, so having breakfast first thing in the morning will kick start your metabolism for the day. Studies have found that regularly skipping breakfast puts you at a much higher risk of obesity. And, the heartier your first meal, the better. So, eat a good breakfast.

Kick it up a notch
The next time you exercise, ramp up your workout and mix up your frequency or intensity. For instance, if you’re running or swimming, change up the pace and push yourself harder for 30 to 60 seconds and then go back to the original speed. If you’re on a treadmill, mix in inclines while you’re running or walking. By doing this, you will use more oxygen which makes your body work harder to burn energy.

Build muscle
When your body has more muscle, you will have a more efficient metabolism. Each pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day while a pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day. If you strength train on a regular basis, you can increase your resting metabolism by 100 calories a day. You can keep your metabolism revved up even on the days you aren’t able to fit in exercise.

Drink green tea
Green tea is often touted for having many health benefits. You can add increasing your metabolism to the list. Brewed green tea contains a plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning. According to studies, two to four cups of green tea per day may burn an extra 50 calories.

Eat those calories
In other words, don’t diet. If you drastically cut your calorie intake, you will send your body into starvation mode. You actually slow down your metabolism, and your body starts storing more fat because it thinks it’s starving. You also start burning muscle, which – as we mentioned earlier – is a vital part of your metabolic levels.

Go ahead and snack
To help keep your metabolism chugging along, eat more often. That doesn’t mean eat more. Have small meals or snacks every 3 or 4 hours. Your body will burn energy at a steady rate. If you eat large meals or skip meals, your metabolism will jump up and down and won’t burn calories as efficiently.

Drink more water
You need water to burn calories. Drinking 8 or more glasses of water a day can help you use more energy. If you add ice and make it cold water instead of room temperature, it may boost your metabolism even more.

Spice it up
Spicy foods that contain the chemical compound capsaicin can help kick your metabolism up a notch. Eating about a tablespoon of red or green chili peppers can boost your metabolic rate. You can spice up chili, soups or pasta dishes with red pepper flakes.

Add in protein
Your body burns up to twice as many calories digesting protein as it does when you digest carbohydrates or fat. Don’t eliminate carbs and fats entirely, but be sure to add in lean, protein-rich foods.

Go to bed
Studies have shown that getting a good night’s rest can help you keep from putting on extra visceral fat. Getting less sleep than you should throws off the hormones that regulate your appetite and metabolism. There are many reasons to get plenty of sleep, including helping you keep off the weight.

Boosting your metabolism can help you lose weight or maintain your current weight. Do you have tips for revving up your metabolism?

10 reasons to get more sleep

need more sleepI have terrible sleep habits. I like to stay up late, I watch TV or play on my iPad in bed, and then I don’t want to get up in the morning. Most nights, I get maybe 6 hours of continuous sleep. No big deal, right? So what if I can take a nap standing up and get grouchy for no reason.

Well, after doing some research, I was surprised by how much getting enough sleep affects overall health and well-being.

Check out these 10 reasons you should get more sleep:

Live longer
I was surprised to learn that getting enough sleep can help you live longer. Sleep may have more influence on longevity than healthy eating habits, exercising or heredity. Without enough sleep, you are more likely to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke or possibly even develop breast cancer.

Be healthier
Sleep may also help you fight off illness. Good sleep helps boost your immune system. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to catch colds, the flu and other infectious diseases. It will also take you longer to recover if you are skimping on sleep.

Look better
Yes, you do need your beauty sleep. We undergo changes in metabolism and secrete growth hormones when we are in our deepest sleep. That means you look better – and possibly even younger – when you are well-rested instead of deprived of sleep. 

Feel better
You also feel better when you get plenty of sleep. You have more energy, ambition and enthusiasm. Being more rested can help you have a better attitude and be prepared to deal with whatever comes your way throughout the day.

Build your brain
Sleep can boost your memory. During sleep, new memories are processed in your brain. Lack of sleep affects your concentration, decision-making skills and overall performance. In fact, not getting enough sleep can have mental and physical affects similar to drinking too much alcohol. Sleep just helps your brain work better.

Be skinnier
Studies suggest that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight. Sleep can help you maintain better hormonal balance, and that helps you choose to eat healthier foods. When you are sleep deprived, you crave high-carb and high-sugar foods. So, sleep more and leave the cake, donuts and cookies alone.

Be safer
As mentioned earlier, being sleep deprived is similar to drinking too much alcohol. With the right amount of sleep, you are more alert and aware. You are less likely to have an injury due to falling or being careless. In addition, you are a better driver when you are more rested.

Make better decisions
Lack of sleep can make it difficult to make good decisions, or for that matter, even any decision at all. I have been known to stare at my sock drawer for five minutes in the morning, trying to pick out a pair of socks. I have trouble making decisions on a good day, but without enough sleep it’s nearly impossible.

Reduce pain
Physical pain can be associated with lack of sleep. Studies have shown that if you have chronic pain from an injury, getting enough sleep may help reduce the pain. Sleep is nature’s pain reliever and can even help reduce the need for pain medication.

Be happier
When you are deprived of sleep, you may experience more moodiness and anxiety. Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can also lead to depression. Getting enough sleep can improve your overall mood, help you concentrate and improve your productivity. You can better cope with stress and stressful situations in your day-to-day life.

After learning how important sleep can be to my overall health, I am setting a goal to get 8 hours of sleep every night. Are you sleep deprived? Tell us about your sleep habits!