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Revving Up Your Metabolism
by Amy Carlson, MS, RD, LD

Absolutely, this is the #1 excuse/question I get when people are trying to lose weight. How do I increase my metabolism? Or they comment, "I just have a slow metabolism!" Well, that may be partly true. We all have different rates at which we metabolize fuel. Metabolism really is the "chemical reactions that occur in the body, enabling cells to release energy from foods, convert one substance to another, and prepare end products for excretion." How do you like that? In other words, it is what happens to the food we eat at a cellular level. Some of us are more efficient than others at converting food to fuel. It takes us less calories (we burn less calories) to change a slice of bread into glucose to be used for fuel or stored in our tissues. On the other hand some people are not as "efficient" converting food and as a result expend more calories in the process. These are the folks we often refer to as "naturally thin." We often feel that they can "eat anything they want." Well, the good news is for those who are very efficient at storing food as fat we will be the last to go in a famine! Fortunately (and unfortunately) there is an overabundance of food for most of us in this country, which leads to overeating and obesity. So the question remains, how can I increase my metabolism?

The are some golden rules to live by when trying to raise your metabolism. There are three things that raise your metabolism; exercise, eating and fever. I suggest the first two. Exercising can increase your metabolism and sustain an increase for hours after exercising. Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and initiates an "after burn" effect. Strength/resistance training helps to build lean body mass, which increases the amount of calories you burn even while resting. The more lean body mass, the more calories you burn. Basal metabolic rate (metabolism while you are resting) decreases by 20% between ages 30 and 90, in large part due to the decrease in lean body mass. The tissues that remain, however, continue to produce heat at the same rate as in younger adults. Exercise can help you conserve this lean body mass! Eating raises your metabolism. Many people skip breakfast in the morning and have little lunch only to eat large quantities in the afternoon all the way through the evening. Skipping meals produces a sluggish metabolism not to mention low energy. I tell people to think of their bodies like a furnace; start the fire in the morning (breakfast) and stoke the fire by adding logs to the fire (several small meals) all day. This produces a hot burning (calorie burning) furnace! Eating small, nutrient dense meals (complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fruits/vegetables) will help raise your metabolism and give you the energy you need to make it through your day.

Amy B. Carlson, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian and consults clients in the greater Houston area. To contact Amy for an appointment call 713.978.1713 or e-mail her at abcdietitian@houston.rr.com.

View Amy's Bio
View our frequently asked nutrition questions & answers




Weight Training
Lat Pulldowns
Pulldowns are a great exercise for the back muscles but avoid pulling the bar behind the head. Pull the bar down in front of the body toward the collar bone and with the bar just below your chin. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff.
Running
Avoiding Shin Splints
Do you have lower leg pain or shin splints from running? Running on hard surfaces, worn out running shoes and weak calf muscles could be the culprit. Try running on soft trails, buying a new pair of running shoes or adding calf exercises to your weight training routine.
Walking
The Talk Test
A great way to make sure you are staying in your aerobic fat-burning range is the talk test. If you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation with your walking partner you probably need to bring down the intensity to assure yourself that you are burning fat.
Fat Burning
Your Anaerobic Threshold
A great way to make sure you are burning fat during cardio sessions is knowing your anaerobic threshold or where your heart rate zone needs to be to burn fat stores. Find a gym or fitness center that offers anaerobic/VO2 testing. Merlino Fitness offers anaerobic threshold testing every month. Check out the link below for more details.
Merlino Fitness Metabolic Testing
Nutrition
Keys to Weight Loss
If you are trying to drop weight make sure you incorporate the following to get you on your way. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals (especially breakfast), do not eat late night meals or snacks after 7 or 8 pm and build as much activity into your everyday life as you can. Michael also recommends joining weight watchers to anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Nutritional Supplements
Stay Away From Ephedra!
The weight loss/energy supplement is in the news again. Supplement companies that market this controversial supplement claim it is safe although many have died from this dangerous supplement. Make sure you check the labels of your nutritional supplements as many are laced with ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang (the actual herbal).
Quick Tip Archives
Our archived collection of fitness and nutrition tips to help you stay focused and fit.
Tip Archives

Soy Dream
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
Product Website
Eggology Egg Whites
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
Product Website
Grocery Store Archives
Our latest collection of on-line articles to help you stay focuses and fit.
Grocery Archives
 
Fitness
Pamela from Chihuahua, MexicoI work out 5 days a week and can't loose weight. I do spinning, tae bo and many types of cardio. Where am I going wrong?
Answer
Nutrition
Ross from Sidney, AustraliaI am currently trying to eat six small meals per day. Apart from breakfast and dinner, I always seem to forget or skip my meals during the day. I also need some simple, easy meals (snacks) that do not require refrigeration or preparation, apart from the obvious fruits.
Answer
Running
Amanda from Manitoba, CanadaWhat should I eat the morning of my track meet?
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