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Rev Up Your Metabolism

Follow These 7 Dos and Don'ts to Boost Your Metabolism

3. Spice foods up for taste.

Spicy foods don't really help you burn calories, says Carey Clifford, MS, RD, vice president of Nutricise (www.nutricise.com), an online nutrition and weight loss program. But they may help you enjoy healthy choices such as vegetables and chicken. "Spicy foods may boost your metabolism slightly, but unfortunately, it's too small a boost to be significant," says Clifford.

4. Drink water.

Lack of water can slow the metabolic rate just as lack of food can, says John Acquaviva, PhD, assistant professor of health and human performance at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. "Since water is the body's most important nutrient, the liver will turn its concentration to water retention instead of doing other duties such as burning fat."

5. Tone up.

Becoming more active will stimulate your metabolism, says Susan L. Burke, MS, RD/LD, CDE, director of nutrition services for eDiets. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, she explains, so replacing your fat stores with lean muscle allows you to maintain your weight much more easily. "It's not necessary to become a body builder," says Burke. "Just use light weights to firm and tone your muscles."

6. Get moving.

Aerobic exercise will burn calories, says Burke, who recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate activity every day. Combined activity counts -- walk, skip, jog, or dance. Activity in your home counts, too. Garden, clean closets, or clean your house. "You'll burn the most calories, however, with sustained activity that gets your heart rate up," says Burke.

7. Watch those calories.

As you get older, your metabolism will slow down -- approximately 5% a decade, says Madelyn H. Fernstrom, PhD, CNS, associate professor and director of the UPMC Health System Weight Management Center in Pittsburgh. A slower metabolism is a natural part of aging, Fernstrom explains, so to maintain a stable weight, you must adjust your caloric intake and/or physical activity. "If someone needs 1,500 calories a day to maintain his body weight at age 40, for example, he or she will need about 1425 calories a day at age 50 to maintain that weight, without changing anything else," says Fernstrom.

The bottom line when it comes to metabolism, says Susan Burke, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."

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Reviewed on June 01, 2004

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