Boost Metabolism and Prevent Middle-Age Weight Gain
Mistake: Eating Lightly (or Not At All) Before Noon
“Women often have one of two problems with breakfast,” says Elisabetta
Politi, R.D., nutrition director of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in
Durham, NC. “If they overindulge at night, they don’t have much appetite in the
morning. Or they’re trying to cut calories early in the day, so they don’t eat
enough in the A.M.” Breakfast skimpers and skippers, plus women whose diet
resolve is strongest in the morning (“Just coffee and dry toast, please”),
commit the same metabolic faux pas: eating too little to flip on their
metabolism as well as vital “satisfaction switches” in the brain that register
fullness in the stomach.
The Fix: Munch on More Food in the Morning
When researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso analyzed the food
diaries of 867 women and men, they discovered a metabolic window of opportunity
for appetite control: a hearty breakfast. Study volunteers who ate a bigger
meal in the morning went on to eat 100 to 200 fewer calories later in the day.
Research from Michigan State University that tracked 4,218 people showed that
women who skipped breakfast were 30 percent more likely to be overweight. The
best A.M. filler-uppers: oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter — or “anything with fiber
and protein,” says Politi.
Mistake: Living a High-Stress, Low-Sleep Life
When things get extra-hectic, your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone,
shoot up. And that can trigger cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods, report
University of California, San Francisco, researchers. The worst part: Your body
also sends that extra fat to your waistline. Millions of years ago, this
metabolic trick might have helped cavewomen refuel after fending off marauding
mastodons. But if you’ve got 21st-century chronic stress (Job! Kids! House!
Marriage!), all that extra cortisol could land you in perpetual “pass the
Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your waistline, too. When Harvard Medical
School scientists followed 68,183 women for 16 years, they found that those
averaging five hours of shut-eye per night were 32 percent more likely to gain
33 pounds than those who got seven hours a night. Those logging an average of
six hours per night were 12 percent more likely. What gives? Sleep deprivation
increases the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, and decreases the
satisfaction hormone, leptin, say researchers from the University of Chicago.
In a study they conducted, tired volunteers craved more candy, cookies, chips,
The Fix: Sleep More, Stress Less
Aim for at least seven hours of slumber most nights. Women who snoozed for
that long, or longer, had a lower risk of weight problems, the Harvard
researchers found. And try meditation — it could keep you in your skinny jeans.
A Canadian study of 90 meditators found that those who practiced in a group
setting for 1 1/2 hours a week for seven weeks and fit in additional time at
home had less stress and anxiety than non-meditators. Or tie on your sneakers
and go for a walk in the park or the woods: In a British study, 71 percent of
people who walked in the countryside felt less tense afterward. Other research
on the health benefits of nature backs this up: A Dutch overview confirmed that
just looking at greenery can improve well-being.
Originally published on: February 28, 2008
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