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Maximize Your Metabolism

            Why is it that some people seem to stay thin no matter what they eat?  They are the ones you see eating a huge hamburger and fries, as you sit across the restaurant putting your chicken breast and veggies in your phone calorie counter and wondering why you can’t lose those extra ten pounds.  Your metabolism may be the reason.

            Metabolism, put in simple terms, is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel.   The rate that your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.   Ah-ha, so we can blame our metabolism for those extra ten pounds!

            It is true that there are certain factors that control your metabolism that you can’t change.   One of them is your age.  Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow down after age 40; a little reminder from your body that you are no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in a few different ways.  Another factor is your gender.  Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Being a woman, this seems slightly unfair. There are other factors including heredity or medical problems that can influence the rate that your body burns calories.  Although we may be unable to change some things, the good news is that there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.

            Among the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise!  It is important to combine both cardiovascular exercise and strength training to your regimen.  Cardiovascular exercise, such as running or biking, can burn many calories.  While strength training may not burn as many calories during your workout as cardiovascular exercise, your body continues to burn calories long after your work-out is over.  This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat – a lot more!  According to Crossroads Fitness Personal Trainer, Jess Cassinari, “Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn over 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only 2-3 calories a day.” If you include strength training into your workouts regularly, your muscles will work hard for you all day long.

            Nutrition is another way to improve your metabolism.  You will be happy to know that “crash” dieting is NOT the answer.  Actually, when you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down causing the reverse effect.  When you do eat, your body will hang on to those calories, as your body is functioning as if it’s starving.  Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies were not supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat (or cheat, as we probably referred to it as) we probably overindulged. Don’t cut yourself short on the fuel that keeps you moving.  Your best bet is to eat more often.  Eating small, nutritious meals more frequently will help keep your metabolism awake.  

            Here are some additional nutrition tips that can help increase the rate of your body’s metabolism.  Add a little more protein to your diet.  Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does digesting carbohydrates.   Some sources of protein rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs.   Another tip is to spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes.  The chemical compound in spicy food can increase your metabolism temporarily.   Don’t forget to include water in your daily routine.  Your body needs to be hydrated to properly use the calories you consume. 

            There are many factors that influence the rate in which your body burns calories such as gender, age, and genetics. It is easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change, however this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism.  Knowing that by changing your eating habits, exercising and building muscles, you can speed up the rate that your body burns calories.  The benefits will show not only on how you feel, but on the scale as well.

Paula and Dale Reece own Crossroads Fitness Centers in Grand Junction with a downtown location in the Alpine Bank Building at 225 N. Fifth St. and an airport location at 2768 Compass Drive. For more information, call 242-8746 or log on to www.crossroadsfitness.com.
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