Spreading your meals throughout the day might keep you from getting too hungry and overeating. If so, it is a good idea. Athletes perform better when they eat more often in smaller amounts. If you are someone who has a hard time stopping once you start eating, 3 meals a day may make it easier for you to stick to an appropriate intake than lots of little snacks.
"Stay away from processed, high sugar, junk food, even fruit juice," says Michael Mountain, author of Ultimate Fat Loss Solution. Stick to protein, which increases metabolism by 30 percent for up to 12 hours, whereas carbs and fat increase metabolism by 4 percent for less than one hour. And don't forget fiber—it binds with metabolized fat and removes it from the body.
If you always opt for coffee over tea, you could be missing out on a major metabolism boost. A Penn State animal study found supplementing exercise with green tea can actually boost weight loss. In fact, after 16 weeks, rats experienced a body mass reduction of 27.1 percent and an average abdominal fat mass reduction of 36.6 percent. What’s its magic? The brew contains catechins, a type of antioxidant that triggers the release of fat from fat cells and helps speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy.
Think of every bean as a little weight-loss pill. One study found that people who ate a ¾ cup of beans daily weighed 6.6 pounds less than those who didn’t—despite bean eaters consuming, on average, 199 calories more per day. The magic is in the perfect combination of protein and fiber: Studies show that those who eat the most fiber gain the least weight over time and that eating fiber can rev your fat burn by as much as 30 percent. Aim for about 25 grams of fiber a day—the amount present in about three servings each of fruits and vegetables.
Severely limiting caloric intake can tricking your body into thinking it’s starving. In her book Thin for Life: 10 Keys to Success from People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept it Off, Anne Fletcher writes that “if you cut back on calories, your body protects itself from this state of semi-starvation by slowing down the rate at which it burns food.” While skipping a meal or two might see positive short-term effects, it can be harmful in the long run. Here are more metabolism myths that can ruin your weight loss.
It’s well reported that fiery capsaicin (think: hot sauce, cayenne, chili) can rev up the metabolism, but study findings presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in Anaheim, California, showed similar weight loss potential in dihydrocapsiate (DCT), the non-spicy cousin of hot peppers. Participants who ate the most DCT experienced a metabolic boost that was nearly double the placebo group! Bottom line: Pile on the poblanos!
Research shows that getting plenty of protein can boost your metabolism, causing you to burn an extra 150 to 200 calories a day, says Jeff Hampl, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. "Protein is made up mainly of amino acids, which are harder for your body to break down [than fat and carbs], so you burn more calories getting rid of them," he explains.
It's tempting to curl up on the couch the minute PMS mood swings and bloat strike, but you'll lose more weight if you exercise during those two weeks before your period, according to a recent study at the University of Adelaide in Australia. "Women burned about 30 percent more fat for the two weeks following ovulation to about two days before menstruating," says study coauthor Leanne Redman. Here's why: The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone are at their peak then — and because they promote the body's use of fat as energy, more fat is burned off when you exercise during this time.
Eat plenty of healthy fats. Healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds, along with wild, fatty fish are your mitochondria’s preferred fuel. My favorite “gasoline” for your mitochondria is medium-chain triglycerides or MCT oil, which is found in coconut oil. I provide an extensive plan to utilize these and other healthy fats in my new book Eat Fat, Get Thin.
Dried goji berries might be a staple of every health food store, but it’s worth looking for them a couple aisles over in the tea section. Lycium barbarum, the plant from which goji berries are harvested, is a traditional Asian therapy for diabetes and other diseases, but it also boasts a slimming effect. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants were either given a single dose of L. barbarum or a placebo after a meal. The researchers found that one hour after the dose, the goji group was burning calories at a rate 10 percent higher than the placebo group, and the effects lasted up to four hours. Bonus: Most goji teas are mixed with green tea, further boosting your calorie burn.
Even the fittest and most health-conscious people can’t avoid aging. And while, there’s nothing wrong with adding years of experience and memories under your belt, sometimes age adds a bit more than that. Plenty of factors contribute to increased weight over time, but decreased metabolism is a main culprit. In fact, even if you continue with your regular eating and exercise plan every year, you’ll still gain two pounds per year, says Kimberly Corp, certified Pilates instructor, and co-founder of Pilates on Fifth. The good news is that you still have a lot of control over your metabolism after 50. Here are some expert tips to help rev up your engines.
Clocking in at caffeine counts higher than a cup of coffee, kola nut teas are sure to zap any morning drowsiness—and set your metabolism up for a hotter burn. In a study published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology, researchers found that caffeine revs the sympathetic nervous system and increases lipolysis. Look for teas made from this caffeine-containing fruit; if you want to skip the label reading, just grab a box of Celestial Seasonings Fast Lane, which clocks in at 110 milligrams of caffeine.
Shuck one for your metabolism. Heck, make it a half dozen. After all, oysters are one of the best dietary sources zinc—a mineral that’s critical for thyroid health. In fact, the body needs enough zinc to activate production of thyroid hormone. And, in turn, we need enough thyroid hormone to absorb zinc. Any way you look at it, deficiencies are likely to result in a sluggish metabolism, and supplementing with the mineral has shown to get weight loss back on track. One study in Nutrition Research and Practice found that obese people who consumed 30 milligrams of zinc per day—the equivalent of just six raw oysters—had improved BMIs, lost weight, and showed improvements in blood cholesterol levels. Get shucking!
Bodybuilders have known for years that strategically placed ‘cheat meals’ can help prevent the metabolic slowdown mentioned above. One meal every five to seven days that contains as many carbs and calories as desired can work. Just make sure not to make a habit out of cheat meals. In fact, you could also just as easily eat clean each day and meet your calorie needs, rather than consistently depriving yourself, then occasionally indulging.
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Spicy foods have natural chemicals that can kick your metabolism into a higher gear. Cooking foods with a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can boost your metabolic rate. The effect is probably temporary, but if you eat spicy foods often, the benefits may add up. For a quick boost, spice up pasta dishes, chili, and stews with red pepper flakes.
This antioxidant-rich, traditional Chinese tea not only helps keep cholesterol levels in check and aids digestion, it can also help rev up your metabolism. Like green tea, oolong is packed with catechins, which boost weight loss efforts by improving the body’s ability to metabolize fat. A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost six pounds over the course of six weeks.
Dehydrated cells and organs don’t function as well as they should, leaving your metabolism lower than it could be if you’re not fully hydrated. Water is best, but you can also increase your hydration levels by consuming other beverages too. Just make sure they don’t have high calorie or sugar levels. (This suggestion works especially well for college students who hope to avoid the Freshman 15!)
Skimping on sleep can derail your metabolism. In a study at the University of Chicago, people who got four hours of sleep or less a night had more difficulty processing carbohydrates. "When you're exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which include burning calories, so your metabolism is automatically lowered," explains Peeke.