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Kick your metabolism into high gear

January 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Age, gender, body size, even hormones effect your metabolic rate. Muscle mass, what you eat, and when you eat it all play a role. Here are the answers to some calorie questions that might be burning on your mind. "Metabolism is basically everything that happens from the time you eat food 'til the time you die," said nutrition expert Dr. Jonny Bowden. "The engine that runs your body is your metabolism."

Bowden says if you are looking to fire up your furnace there's lots of tricks. One of the best is lifting weights which increases muscle mass. Our muscles are like big cars that act like gas guzzlers in our system requiring lots of energy to maintain them.

"It makes you a better butter burner and it makes you a more effective calorie burner even when you're sitting watching television," said Bowden.

Along with strength training, even the smallest moves make a big fat difference throughout our day.

"The studies have been very clear on this, calorie burn is accumulative," said Bowden. "You get up, stand, walk, garden, park your car a little bit further away and walk through the mall."

There's a reason why experts recommend eating three or more smaller meals rather than one big one.

"There's something called the thermic effect of food, which is the little bit of speeding up you get in your metabolism every time you eat," said Bowden.

A perfect example is the eating habits of a sumo wrestler.

"They go all day and then they have a gigantic meal and then they go to sleep," said Bowden.

Getting enough protein is also key.

"Fat takes about three calories to break it down, so from the time it goes from the table into your body is taken about three calories," said Bowden. "Protein takes about 24 calories out of every 100."

But both are needed along with complex carbohydrates to feel satisfied.

Keep in mind the standard weight loss rule is to drop 3500 calories a week, the equivalent to a pound of fat. This is best achieved by cutting 250 calories from your food intake and upping exercise expenditure by 250 for a 500 calorie loss each day, so by the week's end you should be one pound lighter.


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