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Lightning Fast Metabolism!  09.04.2008

Every New Year, so many people make losing weight their top priority. However, in one study of 12000 people, approximately 30% had broken their resolutions by February!  Strict and unreasonable diets can be frustrating and impossible to sustain but by simply understanding how your body works, you can get fitter and healthier quicker and for longer. The key is simple: understand your metabolism!

 
Metabolism has been a buzz word for a long time and understandably! Metabolism is literally the combination of catabolism (the bodily process of breaking down food for energy) with anabolism (cell and muscle growth).
 
Dieters and fitness fans understand that the process of breaking down food burns calories (and stored fat). The speed at which your body burns calories is known as your metabolic rate. It makes sense therefore that you will burn calories quicker when your metabolic rate is higher. Sadly though, numerous things like aging, genetics, yoyo dieting, and a more sedentary lifestyle can slow your metabolic rate down over time.
 
Therefore, here are some simple do's and don'ts on how to boost your metabolism for a healthier body:
 
WATER:
 
DO: Keep your body hydrated by drinking about 2 litres of water a day. This ensures that your bodily processes (including metabolism) can work at their optimum level.
DON'T: Drink too much caffeine or alcohol as they are diuretics and deplete the body of necessary water by increasing the rate of excretion.
 
EATING HABITS:
 
DO: Eat smaller meals regularly rather than having large irregular meals.
DON'T: Starve yourself. When you don't eat regularly, the body enters 'starvation mode' storing fat rather than burning and expending nutrients in its normal manner.
 
DO: Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains or fruits and vegies particularly legumes. They encourage your body to release insulin more slowly discouraging fat storage.
DON'T: Eat lots of simple carbohydrates like rice, pastas, potatoes, sugar or white flouor. This encourages your body to release more insulin leading to fat storage.
 
DO: Eat protein (meats, legumes, nuts, soy, seeds, grains) as this is an instant metabolism booster. These foods are harder to break down and therefore the body expends more calories in the process.
DON'T: Over-eat proteins. Proteins only need to be 15-35% of your dietary intake in order for you to reap the benefits.
 
EXERCISE:
 
DO: Exercise early in the morning to boost your metabolism.
DON'T: Stress when your weight initially goes up due to increased exercise. It is a well known fact that muscle weighs more than fat. This is a good sign that your body is tranferring fat to muscle for a leaner, meaner you.
 
DO: Short bursts of exercise every one or two hours to boost your metabolism.
DON'T: Stay stagnant. Take a walk around the office every hour. A short break is good for refocusing your mind for better productivity as well as allowing your body to stretch to avoid posture headaches and stiffness.
 
DO: Cardio exercise like swimming, walking or cycling. It's best for boosting your metabolic rate for longer. On the other hand, weights and resistance training are great for fat-burning. Why not have the best of both worlds and combine the two: burn fat and increase your metabolism by finding a sport that does both.
DON'T: Eat minimally after training. Your body needs to replenish its energy. Again, your body will only go into starvation mode and store fat if you do this.
 
One thing to remember for the long-term: the smaller your muscle mass, the lower your metabolic rate and therefore the slower you will burn calories. For those who are no longer  'spring chickens', you may find your muscle mass descreases as you get older, normally due to a more sedentary lifestyle or poor discipline regarding exercise. The great news is muscle and fat don't recognise age. Staying active is the key to faster metabolism, better muscle tone and a healthier, more stream-lined you.
 
There is no strict dietary regime or exercise gimmick to master. By simply understanding your body's mechanics better and putting the above tips into play on a regular basis (sensible eating habits combined with regular exercise), you can boost your metabolism and stay healthier for life.