Supercharge Your Metabolism!
Turn Up the Burn
Last winter I put on a few extra pounds. No biggie -- I do it every year. The weight usually comes off in the spring once I stop chowing down on pasta and bread and shift my outdoor running program into high gear. But this year the scale refused to budge. At all.
"Maybe your metabolism is slowing," a friend suggested. She had a point; I was in my thirties, which is when scientists say the ebb usually starts. Yikes! How could I rev it back up and drop the flab? Here's what I learned to turn up the burn -- and how you can do it too.The M Factor
Metabolism sounds mysterious and complicated, but it's actually pretty simple: It's the amount of energy (aka calories) our bodies need daily. About 70 percent of those calories are used for basic functions, such as breathing and blood circulation, says Rochelle Goldsmith, PhD, director of the Exercise Physiology Lab at Columbia University Medical Center. Another 20 percent is fuel for physical activity, including working out, fidgeting, walking, and even holding our bodies upright while standing. The remaining 10 percent helps us digest what we eat (it's true; eating burns calories!). The trouble begins when you consume more calories than your body needs to do these things: That's when you pack on the pounds.
You can partly thank your parents for the speed of your metabolism. Genes contribute to the levels of appetite-control hormones we have floating around in our bodies, Goldsmith explains. "Some people are genetically programmed to be active; they're naturally restless and use more energy," she says. Those are the lucky high-metabolism types.
Gender also plays a role. "The average man's metabolism is about 10 to 15 percent higher than a woman's," Goldsmith notes. That's mainly because men have more muscle mass than women do, which means they burn more calories. "Muscle does the work to help you move, while fat just sits there," says John Porcari, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and director of the clinical exercise physiology program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Not only that, but women's bodies are designed to hold on to body fat in case of pregnancy.
The good news is, you can make your metabolism faster, experts say, despite genetics and gender. These are the 10 simple secrets to boosting it big-time.
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