“Fire up your metabolism”

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There are many people who would give their first born to increase their metabolism. Why, you ask? Because having a high metabolism enables you to burn fat and lose weight fast with the least amount of effort. Simply put, metabolism is the rate by which the body produces and consumes energy and calories to support life.

Now, there are several factors that affect your metabolism, such as the amount of lean muscle tissue you have, the frequency of the meals you consume, good ol’ genetics, stress levels, personal diet and activity levels. On the other side of the coin, your metabolism can slow down due to many reasons, like age, a not-so-good diet, and a loss of muscle tissue because of inactivity. This tendency of your body’s metabolism to decrease as you get older is just part of life, but there is a lot you can do to keep your metabolism at it’s most optimum level.

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Here are 12 tips to fire up your metabolism:

1. Build up more lean muscle. It’s only natural that your metabolism decreases as you age, but it is possible to counter the effects. The amount of muscle you have will determine how your body burns calories and sheds fat. This means that exercise is essential. Build up your strength and muscle mass by working out at least twice a week, preferably with weights, and stay active on your days off. Simple tasks such as walking the dog and using the stairs in place of the elevator can keep your metabolism elevated. The key is to match the amount you eat to the amount of activity you’re doing. Here are some guidelines to follow when you’re trying to build muscle:

For strength training and weight lifting:

-Make sure that your workout feels like, well, a workout. If it’s easy, it probably won’t be enough stimulus to build muscle

-Add more weight/resistance as you progress

-Utilize advance exercise techniques if possible (superset/drop sets/compound sets/etc.)

For cardiovascular training

-Perform intervals between exercises

-Cross-training (doing different types of cardio activities) will challenge your body and require you to expend more energy (calories)

-Add resistance and speed as you progress

2. Eat breakfast. It may sound cliche, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and many people ignore this fact. Surprisingly, those that eat breakfast are leaner than those that don’t. Your metabolism can slow down considerably if breakfast is taken during the mid-morning or if you wait until the lunchtime to eat your first meal of the day.

3. Avoid sugar. Sugar puts your body in a fat storage mode due to the effects of insulin. It’s recommended that you consume food that will help sustain an even blood-sugar level, ideally foods that have a low number on the Glycemic Index. Also, if you’re following the advice of #1, that will naturally stabilize your blood sugar.

4. Eat spicy foods. Hot cuisine with peppers and spices can increase your metabolism.

5. Sleep more. According to research, people who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to gaining weight. You should be aiming to get between 7 and 8 hours of shut-eye each night. You’ll be amazed at how powerful sleep is once you start getting your z’s every night.

6. Increase your water intake. Water flushes out toxins that are produced when your body burns fat. Most of your body’s functions involve or require water, and a lack of water can cause your metabolism to slow down significantly. How much water a day? Use the color of your urine as a gauge. It should be a clear, light yellow color. If you’re taking your vitamins, this will be waaay harder to gauge, so shoot for at least your weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 lbs., try and get 150 ounces of high quality H2O each day.

7. Eat smaller meals more frequently. Try and eat between 4 to 6 small meals that are timed 2 to 3 hours apart. This will keep your metabolism from slowing down too much during the day and will give you more energy.

8. Never skip meals. Ok, I know, never is a harsh word. But try and avoid missing meals as much as possible. People tend to skip meals thinking this a good way to lose weight, but it’s a big mistake since this actually slows down metabolism. Let’s say you’re eating 4 meals a day, 7 days a week, for a total of 28 meals a week. I recommend that no more than 10%, or 3 meals, be cheat meals for that time frame. And here’s the kicker with a missed meal…it counts as a cheat meal! So if you miss 3 meals that week, you better make sure you’re other 25 meals are spot on (and you don’t get to splurge on any real cheat meals!)

9. Plan your meals in advance. Always prepare the right amount of food to be consumed at your designated intervals. Don’t commit the mistake of eating meals in random, sporadic patterns. This will also keep you from eating out as much, and that alone will save you 100′s of calories each week.

10. Ditch the stress! Stress, be it physical or emotional, triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol, which decreases your metabolism. Also, people tend to eat poorly when stressed. Do things that relax your mind and body. Meditate, do some yoga or sing in the shower or whatever. As long as you’re having fun, it’s just what you need to de-stress!

11. Chug some green tea. It’s the perfect substitute for coffee and has the ability to stimulate your metabolism, and unlike coffee, it has less undesirable side effects when too much is consumed.

Bonus Tip: Include more energy foods in the diet, such as fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains. You already knew this, but I thought I’d throw it in as a reminder. Bonus!

Achieving the desired body weight is never impossible if you have the determination and patience to follow these 11 tips that will help raise your metabolism, have you dropping pounds of fat, and looking and feeling great. You just need to realize that eating right and working out is not just a passing trend, but a way of life.

By Jeff Lane

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