Woman drinking green tea

Secrets To Pumping Up Your Metabolism

“Oh, I just have a fast metabolism.” Heard that one before? To many of us, a fast metabolism is some kind of body double that lives inside a select few people exercising and burning calories while their perfect outer shells sit and pig out on the couch. Well, that’s not far from the truth. Metabolism does work on its own to burn calories and shed fat, and the faster it runs the more calories you burn. However, it’s not only a select few that can reap the benefits. The truth is that you have a huge amount of control over the rate of your metabolism. And to prove it, here are some things that you too can sit back and let your fast metabolism do the work.

Green Tea
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, calls green tea “the closest thing to a metabolism potion.” Green tea contains a fat burning plant compound called ECGC. One study showed that people who consumed three to five cups a day of the brew for 12 weeks showed a 4.6 decrease in body weight; other studies suggest that consuming two to four cups of the tea can burn an extra fifty calories daily – five pounds a year, if you do the math.

Dairy
Did you spend last night binge watching “Empire” with an open bag of chips on hand? You can redeem yourself with an eight-ounce glass of milk or a six-ounce container of low-fat yogurt. Calcium boosts metabolism by increasing the rate at which your body disposes of waste, says a University of Copenhagen study. Supplements will not do the job, so let’s hope you like milk.

Iron
Women lose iron when they ovulate, a loss which does not bode well for your metabolic speed. Iron carries oxygen to your muscles. When there is a deficiency of oxygen, your energy levels tank and your metabolism hits the brakes. Shames advises stocking up on iron with beans, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereal.

Working Out

Woman working out

Interval training
If you want a quick metabolism boost, and to save some time in the process, increase the intensity of your workout. One Australian study pitted two group of female stationary bicyclists against each other. One group rode for 40 minutes at a moderate pace, and one group rode for 20-minute intervals, alternating 8-second sprints with 12 seconds of low-impact pedaling. After 15 weeks, the interval trainers lost three times as much body weight as the other group. Lead researcher, Ethlyn Gail Trapp, PhD, suggests that whatever method of exercise you choose, your should start with an 8-second sprint followed by 12 seconds of easy exercise. Aim to work up to 10 sprints in 20 minutes.

Fish Oil
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, popping fish oil supplements when you exercise can stimulate your fat burning enzymes. Volunteers who took six grams of fish oil daily and worked out three times per week reported an average loss of 3.4 pounds over 12 weeks, while non-pill poppers saw minimal effects. Take two pills containing 300 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA per capsule two hours before you workout for best results.

Woman and child making salad

Diet
According to the National Institutes of Health, fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines send “I’m full triggers to your brain, eliminating cravings. Another word to the wise, skip the cocktails. Two mixed drinks can slow down the calorie burn by 73 percent. Researchers from the University of Berkeley say that this is because the liver converts alcohol to acetate and uses that as fuel instead of your stores of fat. Another word of advice? Sleep well. It will help you regulate hormones that regulate energy use.

Got it? Now get out there and speed up that metabolism! Let us know how it goes for you. We love to get your stories!

Woman using barbells

Use Muscle, Don't Lose It

We’ve all seen it. The celebrity weight transformations. A celebrity gets a role and that calls for an actor with a muscular physique and all of a sudden they’ve transformed into the “Incredible Hulk,” seemingly overnight, adding masses of muscle to their formerly moderate frames, only to slim down just as quickly to normal or even emaciated proportions depending on their next role. Of course they will openly discuss how they “bulked up” or “slimmed down” with tales of excessive carb, consumption and exhausting workouts or stories of food deprivation worthy of a homeless orphan.

However, while we are used to the seemingly impossible becoming commonplace in Hollywood, we hope for a more stable body weight for ourselves. When we build muscle, we generally hope to maintain it, but we need to use it to make sure we don’t lose it.

The Bad News
If you don’t start exercising now, your muscles will shrink by the time your are seventy. Two recent studies found that the atrophy of muscles previously though to be a normal part of aging is not inevitable.

One study used MRI snapshots to compare muscle mass in the mid thighs of athletes aged 40 to 81. Images revealed not much difference between the younger and older athletes and found very little decrease in mid thing muscles with age. In contrast, in healthy but sedentary 70 year old, the results were very different, showing a significant decrease in muscle mass.

Another study looked at the “motor units” of the leg muscles. Motor units are the basic units of the muscles, each of which is connected to a single neuron. It is believed the part of the general weakening that occurs with age is attributed to the atrophy of the motor units. The study revealed a close similarity in the number of motor units of 60 and 20 year old runners. However, this did not apply to the arm muscles, with older runners and non runners alike experiencing similar decline in the motor units of the arms.

Woman with prominent biceps

The Good News
The loss of muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia, can be managed with exercise. Exercise stimulates the release of hormones crucial to healthy muscle mass, such as the growth hormone, crucial to the mechano growth factor. Exercise can also prevent the loss of essential bone and muscle associated with aging.

Although aerobic exercise is great for the cardiovascular system and effective in keeping down fat levels, it is only mildly helpful in maintaining the lean body mass you already have. When it comes to the preserving and increasing lean mass, resistance training is the way to go. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises strength training, such as using weights, machines, bands, and other devices to promote mobility, improve fitness, and increase bone density.

The Big Four For Muscle Building
Because your body is made primarily of “push and pull” muscles, it is important to focus on exercises that focus on those movements. The squat is a great whole body “push” exercise and should be coupled with a whole body “push-pull” like the deadlift, which incorporates core and lower body muscles. For the upper body, the bench press and barbell row are the two main lifts to incorporate into your strength training routine. Doing these will let you minimize finishing exercises for the abs and calves.

How are you using your muscles? Let us know! You’re looking great!

Woman weight training

Try Weight Training For A Flatter Belly

Over the years, we have watched the shirts get higher and the pants get lower. Unless our dryers are just getting more powerful, there seems to be an American obsession with the abdominal area. If Gwen Stefani and Beyonce are any indication, midriff exposure may be the new black. And we all know that dedication to fashion can take hard work. If you want to show off your killer abs, you have to have the killer abs to show. Weight training is a great way to get your belly in shape so you can model the latest crop top/ hip hugger combo. Here’s how!

Spot Reduction Demystified
It may seen logical that exercising one part of your body is the best way to trim fat from the area; hence, performing crunches will strengthen the abdomen. The truth is, that while crunches may provide for a more toned appearance, they won’t burn fat around your stomach. If your goal is weight loss, you need to burn more calories than you ingest, and burning calories includes a strong aerobic component. Circuit training is a great way to combine aerobics with strength training.

Circuit Training
Circuit training includes a variety of exercises performed consecutively without rest in between. It helps to calories and raises the heart rate. Combined with a healthy diet, circuit training can help you burn fat all over your body, belly included.

Circuit Training Exercises
You can include almost any type of weight training exercise into your circuit, as long as you keep moving for a minimum of twenty minutes. Lifting free weights and using exercise machines are both acceptable circuit training activities, however, because you want to avoid taking breaks, you may not want to do multiple barbell exercises that require the addition or removal of weights or any machines that have to be set up.

Vary Muscle Groups
For best results, you should give your muscles 48 hours to heal between sessions. You might choose to do a full body workout every two days, or work your lower body on one day and your upper body the next.

Abdominal Exercises

  1. Barbell Crunches: Lie on an incline bench face up. Your knees should be on the bend of the bench and your feet should be below the foot pads. Use an overhand grip to hold a barbell with your arms extended upward and your hands a shoulder width apart. Exhale, curling your upper body in the direction of the ceiling keeping your arms vertical and your lower back on the bench. Inhale and lower yourself back to the starting position.
  2. Dumbbell Pullover: Lie down face up with your upper back across the bench and your feet pressed flat to the floor. Your body should be straight from your shoulders to your knees. Grip the dumbbell with both hands and extend arms past your head horizontally. Exhale while lifting the dumbbell over the upper chest, then inhale while you return the weight to its starting point.
  3. Low Pulley: Lie on the floor in front of a low pulley machine and attach the straps to both your ankles and the low pulley. Grab a support behind your head. Exhale and bring your knees to your chest using your hips and knees, and then your lower back. Inhale and return to starting position.

Are you doing circuit training to keep that six pack firm? Let us know how you do it, send us every sweaty detail.