Monday, March 12, 2012

Tips for boosting your metabolism

Some of us can eat whatever we want and burn off the calories with ease, thanks to a fast metabolism. But for many of us, merely looking at food seems to pile on the calories, simply because we have a slow metabolism. Annoyingly, we deprive ourselves of food and train ourselves to eat like sparrows, and yet every crumb we consume seems to instantly turn into fat.

Metabolism is an important word for any woman who wants to lose weight. But what exactly is metabolism? Metabolism is the way our bodies process the foods that we eat. Every time we eat, the food that we consume is turned into energy. Energy is used to burn fat when doing physical activity, digesting food, and also when the body is resting. By boosting our metabolism, we can actually burn fat even when we’re not physically active.

But why do some of us have a slow metabolic rate? There are various factors that can cause a slow metabolism, for example, aging (especially in women), thyroid problems, a bad diet, or a genetic predisposition.

The good news is that whatever the reason for your slow metabolism, there are ways in which you can speed up your metabolic rate. Here are some of them:

1. Exercise

Any type of exercise or physical activity will speed up your metabolism. 30 minutes a day spent walking, swimming, cycling or running, playing sport or doing formal exercise, will do wonders to boost your metabolism.
Make a habit of walking around the office rather than phoning or emailing colleagues. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park further away from the office; play with the kids or your dog. Continual small bursts of energy will ensure that your metabolism stays revved up and burning calories.

2. Eat to boost your metabolism

That may sound like a gross contradiction in terms, but it is a fact that eating five or six small meals a day can make a huge difference to boosting your metabolic rate. If you consume 2000 calories a day, for example, you can burn 200 calories just by eating.
Don’t skip breakfast. Eat often to keep your metabolic rate pumped up all day. By eating many small meals throughout the day you will actually be eating less than one or 2 huge meals.  Eat spicy foods to make you break out into a sweat and push your metabolism into top gear. If you’re a compulsive snacker, snack on lean protein such as nuts and seeds. To break down protein, your body needs to work harder which means it has to burn more calories to digest it.

3. Eat certain foods to speed up your metabolic rate

There are many types of foods that will help you speed up your metabolism. Here are some of them:
  • Grapefruit 
Grapefruit lowers insulin levels in the body and triggers the system to store fat. Because grapefruit is rich in fiber, your body needs to burn more calories to break it down.
  • Yogurt 
Natural yoghurt contains a high level of protein, which means that the body uses lots of energy to process it. The pro-biotic cultures in yoghurt also help to regulate the digestive system.
  • Green Tea 
Green tea speeds up the nervous system, causing the body to use up and burn more calories.
  • Coffee 
Caffeine is great for giving the metabolism a boost, but don’t drink more than 2-3 cups each day or you may become irritable or jittery.

There are many other foods that can help you speed up your metabolism and burn those pesky calories. Read up on them and make it a habit to include at least some of them in your daily diet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Truth about Detox Diets

We all know someone who has tried a detox diet and swears by it, or perhaps we have even tried it ourselves. Phrases like “detoxifying the body” and “purifying the system” sound logical and immensely reassuring. After all, we know that toxins are bad for us, so it follows that detoxifying the body with a cleansing diet can only be a good thing – or is it? We may reason that there can’t possibly be any harm in following a diet that encourages us to consume lots of water and natural foods such as fruit and veg. How can that be bad for you?
The truth is, as with many other fad diets that advocate eating only certain types of food, detox diets can cause damaging side effects, especially in teenagers and people with health problems.
But first things first: let’s examine what we mean by “toxins”. Toxins are chemicals or poisons that are harmful to the body. Toxins are caused by the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. In food, toxins are caused by the chemicals that are used to grow and prepare food. Harmful toxins can also come from contaminated water, and polluted air. Our bodies have a superb way of dealing with toxins by processing them through the kidneys and liver, and eradicating them through its waste system, via sweat, urine and feces.
People who advocate detox diets believe that not all toxins are effectively eliminated from the body. They believe that residue toxins continue to linger in the digestive and gastrointestinal systems, skin, hair, and lymph glands, causing health problems such as lack of energy, chronic headaches, nausea, and even weight gain. The thinking is that by abstaining from certain foods and fasting for a fixed period of time, it will purge the body of its “poisons”. In actual fact, the human body is a remarkable machine that is more than well equipped to purify itself.
“Detoxing the body” can take on many forms; from rigorous cleansing diets, to cleansing the colon.  Wild claims have been made about the benefits of detoxing the body; especially by companies selling detox supplements. Claims include preventing dreaded diseases (cancer), increasing energy levels, improving mental concentration, and even significant weight loss.
The truth is that there is no scientific proof that supports the theory that detox diets actually eliminate  toxins faster or more thoroughly than the body itself, or indeed that the “purging” of toxins can actually make you healthier or more energetic.

Eat right and trust your body to do the rest
The basis of most detox diets is to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and drink lots of water, and this is obviously a good thing. However, the problem arises when you eat these foods to the absolute exclusion of everything else.
Your body needs nutrients from other foods such as protein (meat, eggs, peas, beans), and calcium (milk, cheese, yoghurt). It can be harmful to stop eating foods from all the major food groups, and anyone considering embarking on a rigorous detox diet should be well advised to first consult with their doctor or a registered dietician. The bottom line is to eat healthily and sensibly – and trust your body to do the rest.