Supercharge Your Metabolism!
Part 3: Small Changes, Big Results7. Get off your butt.
Sitting too much -- at the computer at work, at home in front of the TV -- slows your metabolism, even if you're exercising regularly. An easy fix is to stretch, stroll, and fidget throughout the day. That's what scientists call NEAT, or nonexercise activity thermogenesis, and it can boost your burn and help you drop weight, says James Levine, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot. The proof: In a study of lean volunteers who were fed extra calories, those who paced frequently, for example, maintained their weight, while the people who did no additional walking got chubbier. If you take advantage of every opportunity to walk and climb stairs, it can make a big difference. "A woman who needs to lose weight would have to burn about 190 to 200 extra calories a day to lose 10 percent of her body weight, which you can do by increasing your overall activity level," Goldsmith says. "Try striding around your house or office when you're on the phone, standing up at your desk whenever you can, and walking to your coworker's cube instead of e-mailing her."8. Go to bed earlier.
Deprive yourself of sleep and your body starts to respond as if it were under siege. "When you get two hours less shut-eye than you normally do, your system becomes stressed and produces about 50 percent more cortisol," Talbott says. "That in turn triggers your appetite."
At the same time, lack of zzz's throws the body's hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin out of whack, making you more likely to overeat. Skimp on pillow time for too long and you could be facing a serious weight problem, says Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. In a 16-year study of sleep-deprived women published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that those who slept seven to eight hours a night had the lowest risk for major weight gain, while women who got six hours a night were 12 percent more likely to pile on a significant number of pounds, and those who logged five hours or less were 32 percent more likely to gain weight.9. Schedule a nighttime workout.
Do a 20- to 30-minute moderate-intensity cardio routine before you hit the hay to keep your metabolism humming all night, Porcari says. The average woman's metabolic rate naturally decreases by about 15 percent while she sleeps, but an end-of-day sweat session will make the drop closer to 5 percent, he explains. So take the dog for an evening walk or go for a bike ride with your family after dinner. And don't worry that the activity will keep you awake: As long as you exercise at least two and a half hours before lights out, you should be able to drift off with no problem, Breus says.10. Check your meds.
Some of the most dramatic metabolic dips occur when women start taking birth control pills and widely prescribed antidepressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. "These drugs commonly slow the metabolism because they affect the functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates how our bodies use energy," says Kent Holtorf, MD, a thyroidologist and the founder of the National Academy of Hypothyroidism. Depo-Provera, a contraceptive that's injected every three months, seems to cause the most weight gain. "It's high in the hormone progestin, which stimulates insulin secretion, leading to increased appetite and a lowered metabolism," Dr. Holtorf explains. "It also signals the body to store fat." (Oral contraceptives, which contain less progestin, aren't as problematic.) If you've recently started taking any new medication and the scale is inching upward, ask your doc if there's an alternative treatment that is less likely to cause weight gain.More Ways to Burn Mega Calories
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2010.
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