W ouldn’t it be nice if yon could eat whatever you wanted, blow off working out and still fit into your skinny jeans? While that’s very unlikely , it is possible to speed up your metabolism, that little bitty engine in your body that burns calories. As you age, your metabolism SLOWS down, chiefly because you lose about a half a pound of muscle each year you live. “If you don’t use the muscle, it atrophies, “ explains Pamela Peeke. M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat after Forty. That translates into burning about 400 fewer calories each and every day or else it could mean gaining a pound a week. But there’s plenty you can do to rev your fat-burning furnace again, says Peeke.

Here’s the skinny on it all!

Stock up on green tea. Green tea isn’t known only for its cancer-fighting benefits: It just may help boost your metabolism, too. People who took green tea extract three times a day saw their metabolic rate increase by about 4 %, according to a study published in the December 1999 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

(Translation: You could burn an extra 60 calories a day, which equals about six pounds a year!) It may be because green tea contains catechins, which increase levels of the metabolism-speeding brain chemical norepinephrine, say’s Joy Bauer, a New York City author of Cooking With Joy.

Pump Iron. ....”Weight training is the ultimate way to burn calories fast. A pound of muscle burns up to nine times the caloriesof a pound of fat.” Explains Richard Cotton, MA..chief exercise physiologist for Weight training increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn while just siting on your butt. What’s even more , it gives your metabolism an added boost after you exercise: It remains in overdrive for up to two hours after the very last bench press., according to a study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Strapped for time? Try these quick moves: squats, bench step-ups, push-ups , and crunches. In a pinch, just do single sets of ten for each exercise—you’ll get optimal results for the time invested.

........and eat iron. Yeah! We just told you to pump iron, but you must also eat iron. “If you don’t have enough of this mineral, your body can’t get enough oxygen to your cells, which will slow down your metabolism.”. explains Samantha HelIer. R. D.. a nutritionists at the New York University Medical Center. Most multivitamins contain around 18 mg (the RDA for adults): vou can also get your fill by eating three to four daily servings of foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat, chicken, fortified cereal, and soy nuts. If von are feeling symptoms such as fatigueweakness, ask our doctor to test you for anemia (it’s a simple blood test) at your next physical.

Order waterand ask for a refill. A new German study found that when you drink at least 17 ounces of water (about two glasses) within a certain time frame, your metabolic rate shoots up by about 30%! (Not bad) Using these results, they s estimate that by increasing your current water intake.1.5 liters a day, a person would burn an extra 17,400 calories a year, resulting in about a five pound weight loss rom that

Get your thyroid checked. Suspect yon have a sluggish metabolism? You might have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland, which afflicts about 25 % of American women---many of whom don’t know they have the condition, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. ‘The thyroid gland controls your bodies metabolism, so one of the first signs that it may be off is an inability to lose weight,” explains Peeke. Your doctor can determine if you’re suffering from hypothyroidism by running a blood test. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you’ll be treated with a synthetic thyroid supplement, which you will need to take the rest of your life. ( It will return your metabolism to near normal. so it should be easier to lose weight).

Avoid alcohol. Want to keep your favorite meals from going straight to your hips (thighs, belly)? Wash them down with water (remember #4) not wine. Alcohol slows your metabolism by depressing the central nervous system. A British study found that when alcohol was added to a high-fat, high-calorie meal, less dietary fat was burned off and more was stored as body fat.

Rev up your workouts. Interval training—in which you add bursts of high-intensity moves into your workout is a surefire metabolism-booster, says Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., director of the Kinesiology Program at the University of Virginia and author of Thc Spark. Researchers at Laval University in Quebec found that high-intensity interval training burns more fat than regular, consistent aerobic exercise. If you usually jog at a ten-minute-mile pace, for example. add a 30-second sprint every five minutes. Or add a one-minute incline to your treadmill workout every five minutes. “Even if. yon just have ten minutes for a quick workout, von can walk at a normal pace and then add in a 30-second bout of speed-walking every three minutes. “ recommends Gaessar.

Do more dairy. Women who ate low-fat dairy products such as nonfat yogurt and low-fat cheese, three to four times a day lost 70 % more fat than non-low-dairy dieters. according to a study published in the journal Obesity Research. “Calcium serves as a switch that tells your body to burn excess fat faster,” explains study author Michael Zernel, M.D., director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Sorry’. but you won’t reap the same benefits from calcium -fortified O.J. Research shows that you get the best results from dairy products themselves, not fortified foods. Aim for 1,200 mg. Which include about three servings of dairy products a day.

Take up a new sport Are you like “Old Faithful” when it comes to your morning walk or evening jog? Know this: The more you do an activity, the more your body adapt to it, SO you burn fewer calories! If you want to light a fire under your metabolism, consider cross-training. For example, if you normally walk try biking instead. “Since you’re not used to working all those different muscles, it’s a more intense workout, which can translate into a greater metabolic after-burn because your body is working harder to recover and get oxygen to all your tissues,” says Carol Espel. M.S., an exercise physiologist for Lqttimtox Fitttess Clubs in New York City.

Go Fish. Break out the lemon wedges : Regular fish eaters tend to have lower levels iii the hormone leptin—good because high levels of leptin have been linked to low metabolism and obesity, says Louis Aronne, M.D.. an obesity specialist at the New Xork Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. Try to consume three to four servings of a fattv fish, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel, each week.

Say ommm. ............ Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. “When you’re stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your . metabolism down, and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen” explains Shawn Talbott, Ph. D,., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what’s a frazzled girl to do? “Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it’s listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily,” says Talbott.

Have a PB & J. . Think peanut butter is only for pint-sized palates? Think again. PB is rich in magnesium, a mineral that motors up your metabolism by cells energy. Aim for 320 mg a day of magnesium: Good food sources include a peanut butter sandwich made with whole-wheat bread (100 mg) or spinach (1 cup has 80 mg).

Exercise off that PMS. You could lose more weight exercising during the later phase of our menstrual cycle than at any other time in your cycle, according to a recent study from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Hormones, estrogen and progesterone fire up your fat-burning furnace: They promote your body’s use of fat as an energy supply, so more is burned off when you exercise. “Women burned about 30 % more fat for the two weeks following ovulation to about two days before menstruation, explains study author Leattne Redmati.

Don’t blow off breakfast. Studies show that eating breakfast plays a part in successful weight loss—almost 80 % of people who successfully keep weight off chow down on this meal, according to a study published in Obesity Research “Your metabolism slows as you sleep, and the digestion of food rev it up again.” ,” explains Heller. Aim for a 300- to 400-calorie hreakfast , such as a high-fiber cereal (another metabolism booster ) with skim milk and fruit.

Pump up protein. Not in an extreme Atkins sort of way. but having a little protein at every meal fires up your metabolism. “Your digestive system uses more energy to break it down, so you burn more calories,” explains I,isa Dorfinan, RD. However. keep protein levels to between 20 and 35 % of your diet; eating too much of it can cause kidney strain and may cause your body to store too much fat.

Snack away during the day. Grazing is a surprisingly good idea because it helps you avoid metabolic slowdown. Your body will be tricked into thinking it’s constantly eating, so it will never slow your metabolism down,” explains Bauer. Aim for five small meals (200 to 500 calories) a day rather than three large ones. Also, try not to go more than four (4) hours without eating—if you eat breakfast at 7am., for example, have a snack at 10 am., lunch at noon, another snack at 3 p.m.. and dinner at 7 p.m.

Skip the starch. Carb crazy? Consider this: Refined carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes. and rice, create a surge in insulin that in turn drives down your resting metabolic, explains Arontte. “It’s real important to keep carbohydrates in your diet, but really focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which have less of an effect on insulin levels.” lie explains. And when buying whole—grain breads and cereals, make sure the first ingredient listed is whole wheat, whole oat, or cracked wheat.

Break up your workouts. Try dividing your workouts into two shorter 20 —minute sessions. You’ll rev up your metabolism for an hour or two after each workout, which means you’ll burn more calories than if yon did one longer session. Don’t have time? Even small bursts of activity will get your metabolism chugging again, according to a study in Nature. “Just a five—minute walk around the house every hour translates into an extra 200 to 300 calories burned every day.” says Peeke.

Pace while you’re on the phone. People who are constantly in motion----crossing and uncrossing their legs, stretching, and pacing—burn more calories. When researchers at the Mayo Clinic asked subjects to eat an additional 1,000 calories a day for eight weeks, they found that only the nonfidgeters stored the calories as fat.

Eat more bananas. They’re really full of potassium, which revs up your metabolism by regulating your body’s water balance, says vitamin expert Susan Lark, M.D., author of the Lark Letter. If your dehydrated, you’ll burn fewer calories. Make sure you’re getting at least 2,000 mg: a banana has 450 mg. a cup of milk has 370 mg, and an orange has 250 mg.

Get enough z’s YEAH! Russell Crowe may be on Letterman, but its way more important for your waistline if you don’t stay up. A study at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that people who got only four hours of sleep had much more difficulty processing carbs. The culprit? Increased levels of insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. “When you’re exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which includes burning calories efficiently.” says Talbott. So the best way to make sure your metabolism runs smoothly is to get six to eight hours of shut-eye each and every night.

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