Speeding Up Your Metabolism

Weight management is a balancing act between taking in calories and burning them up. New research suggests that the way your body burns energy may be at least as important as how much you eat. Try these tips for keeping your body’s idle speed high.

1. QUIT STARVING YOURSELF

When you deprive yourself of food, your body reacts protectively against an ancient threat: famine. Your resting metabolic rate-the calories you burn just to keep your body going-drops to a lower level to conserve energy. Your body works harder to preserve the food it gets by storing it as fat. That’s why people who regularly diet have higher percentages of body fat than non-dieters do. Instead of counting calories, focus on cutting back on the fat and sugar in your diet.

2. GET EXERCISE

Exercise helps you lose weight in several ways. It raises your resting metabolic rate, thus offsetting the lowering effects of dieting and helping you burn more calories even when at rest. Strength training is especially important here, because it increases the amount of muscle you have. And your body burns more fat to meet the metabolic needs of all that high-energy muscle.

3. EXERCISE LONGER

After 30 minutes of intensity exercise-walking, bowling, gardening-your body begins to burn stored fat for energy. It also takes at least 30 minutes to burn more calories than your body can replace by eating.

4. EXERCISE LARGE MUSCLE GROUPS

Choose high-energy exercise-such as walking, bicycling, cross country skiing, swimming, step aerobics- that gives your arms and legs a good workout.

5. VARY YOUR WORKOUT

Your body gets efficient at doing the same exercise day after day, and you burn fewer calories. Try alternating gym workouts with outside activities. Or change your routine every six weeks. You’ll burn more energy-and you won’t get as bored.

6. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST

People who skip breakfasticon burn 5 percent fewer calories than those who eat a healthyicon morning meal.

7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND SMOKING

Both inhibit the burning of abdominal fat. That’s why drinkers and smokers tend to be bigger around the waist than abstainers.

8. RESIST PMS CRAVINGS

The evidence is that women’s bodies burn more calories between ovulation and menstruation. That’s why sugary snacks look so good then. Don’t starve yourself, but if you can resist the cravings for high-energy foods, your body will burn fat stores for energy.

9. EAT LESS FAT

Your body is very efficient at turning the fat you eat into body fat. It takes a lot more energy to turn carbohydrates into fat. That’s why cutting back to less than 30 percent of your calories from fat can help you reduce your body fat more than just cutting total calories.

10. EAT THREE MEALS

Studies show that both frequent small snacks and one or two large meals tend to lower your resting metabolic rate.

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