FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Boosting the metabolism is the holy grail of weight watchers everywhere. But how fast your body burns calories depends on several factors:
Some people inherit a speedy metabolism.
Men tend to burn more calories than women, even while resting.
For most people, metabolism slows steadily after age 40.
Although you can't control your age, gender or genetics, there are other ways to get a boost:
Build muscle. Every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat only about two calories daily. In fact, gaining one pound of muscle can increase the metabolism 10 to 12 percent, allowing more calories to be burned throughout the day.
Kick your workout up a notch. Aerobic exercise can rev up the metabolism for hours after a workout. High-intensity exercise delivers a bigger, longer increase in the resting metabolic rate than low or moderate workouts. To up the calorie burn, during a daily 30-minute walk, try a short burst of quick walking for 10-15 seconds at a time.
Drink more water. The body needs water to process calories. In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. To stay hydrated, drink a glass of water or other unsweetened beverage before every meal and snack.
Eat more often. Eating more can assist in weight loss. Consuming large meals with many hours in between trains the metabolism to slow down. Having a small meal or snack every three to four hours keeps the metabolism cranking, burning more calories over the course of a day.
Spice up your meals. Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that kick the metabolism into high gear. Adding a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can temporarily boost the metabolic rate by 23 percent.
Eat more protein. The body burns twice as many calories digesting protein as it does fat or carbohydrates. Try replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods. Healthy sources of protein include lean beef and pork, fish, white-meat chicken or turkey, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs and low-fat dairy products.
Move more during the day. The more movement during the day, the more calories burned. Studies have shown that just moving around more during the day increases the body's ability to burn more calories. An average person should take 5,000 to 7,000 steps a day. If you are not moving around this much, begin increasing your steps.
When diet and exercise are not enough. For many people, diet and exercise are not enough to help them win the battle of the bulge and move on to a healthy active lifestyle. Often, weight loss surgery is the best option.
If you are considering weight-loss surgery, Flagstaff Medical Center's Bariatric Surgical Weight Loss Center offers free information sessions the second Tuesday of each month 6 - 7 p.m. These sessions include a presentation by our surgical staff on the causes of and complications related to morbid obesity, as well as the types of surgeries available. To register to attend a free information session, call (928) 214-3737. To learn more about the program, visit FMCBariatrics.com.
(Editor's note: Celeste Hebets, P.T., is a physical therapist and coordinator of FMC's Bariatric Surgical Weight Loss Center. Is there a health topic you'd like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o FMC Public Relations, 1200 N. Beaver St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com.)
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