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Toledo, OH 43623

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What's Your Metabolism, and Can You Speed it Up?

separator Your metabolism helps your digestive system use the food you eat to give you the energy you need for daily activities. Hormones and amino acids regulate this process. In simple terms, your metabolism is the amount of energy, or calories, your body uses each day. The more efficiently your metabolism works, the more efficiently your body burns up that energy. In other words, your metabolism affects how easy it is to gain weight and how difficult it is to lose weight.

There are factors that you can't control that influence your rate of metabolism, such as

  • Your gender (women burn calories at a slower rate than men)
  • Your age
  • Heredity
  • Certain health conditions (sometimes, an illness, such as a thyroid condition, can affect your metabolism)

As you age, your body's metabolism slows down a bit. In fact, it goes down by about 5 percent each decade. That's why it's so common to see people putting on weight as they get older, and finding it harder to lose the weight than it was when they were in their 20s and even 30s.

But getting older doesn't mean you have to gain weight. It simply means that if you want to avoid doing so, you need to understand what to do to make your metabolism move into a so-called "higher gear."

Ways to increase your rate of metabolism

As always when it comes to your health, there's no magic bullet. The best way to speed up your metabolism is to exercise. The rewarding thing about this is that when you manage to rev up your metabolism, you're able to eat a bit more, because your body's burning calories at a faster rate.

Increase your metabolic rate at rest by building muscles. Muscle burns more calories than fat. In fact, every pound of muscle burns 35 calories per day, while every pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day. Exercising with weights will increase the muscle and decrease the fat in your body. If you've never worked with weights before, be sure to check first of all with your doctor to make sure it's a safe activity for you. Then get advice from a trainer about how to use the weights, so you start your weight training program safely.

Do aerobic exercise to burn calories. Training with weights helps you burn more calories throughout the course of a day, but it doesn't help burn a large amount of calories quickly. For that you need aerobic exercise, such as fast walking, swimming, jogging—anything that raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for the duration of the time you're exercising.

Eat more frequently during the day (in small amounts). When you have very long stretches of time between meals, your metabolism has the opportunity to slow down. A study conducted by researchers at Georgia State University showed that athletes who ate 250-calories snacks three times per day (in addition to their regular three meals) increased their metabolic rate compared to when they didn't have snacks. They also ate less at their regular meals. As a result, the athletes reduced their amount of body fat.

Can certain foods boost metabolism?

So far, there's been no clear evidence that any specific foods can boost your metabolism to the point where it would make much of a difference in your metabolic rate. Every now and then, you may hear someone say that hot and spicy foods or green tea can help. But there's been no research to show that any of this is the case. On the other hand, eating healthy foods in the right amounts—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats—can help you feel more energetic than eating large servings of heavy, unhealthy foods, such as sugary desserts, unhealthy snack items like potato chips, and fried foods like french fries.

The American College of Sports Medicine;American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; British Journal of Nutrition
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