FITNESS TIPS

Tip # 1: Eat Often to Rev Up Your Metabolism

When it comes to losing weight, how many pounds you lose isn’t as important as what those pounds are made of. For example, if you lose 10 pounds, but half the weight is muscle, your metabolism is going to suffer. That’s because, pound for pound, muscle burns more calories than fat. Surprisingly, the frequency at which you eat when dieting affects the type of weight you lose. In a British Journal of Nutrition study, weight-loss participants who ate frequent meals preserved considerably more lean muscle tissue than those who ate fewer daily meals but consumed the same number of calories. A separate Scandinavian study found similar results when testing two different weight-loss diets on a group of athletes. Although all of them lost equal amounts of weight, those who ate fewer meals lost mostly lean muscle tissue. The participants who ate more frequent meals lost almost all fat tissue, preserving their precious calorie-burning muscle. The lesson here is: To keep your metabolism revived and blast pounds, eat regularly.

Tip # 2: Eat Breakfast

Breakfast may be considered the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be the most time-consuming. If you’re skipping breakfast because you don’t have time to prepare it, get back to the basics and keep it simple. You can save a lot of time and energy by keeping this meal relatively simple. There are many quick, healthful breakfast foods you can stock in your pantry. Stick with high-fiber cereal,whole-grain toast, oatmeal, and fresh fruit–foods you can throw together in just a few minutes. Then concentrate harder on making your lunches and dinners balanced. Still don’t feel like you have time to throw together a bowl of milk and bran flakes? If you’re constantly rushing out the door in the morning, plan ahead. Keep trail mix and dried fruit stashed in your car’s glove box, granola bars in your purse or bag, packets of oatmeal in your desk at work. Remember, breakfast doesn’t have to be achore!

Tip # 3: Exercise Fights the Blues

Ever wonder why you feel so good after working out? It’s not just your imagination at play–psychologists and exercise physiologists have found that exercise may actually work as well as drugs for treating depression. A Duke University study tested this theory by recruiting 156 men and women age 50 and older who suffered from major depression. They split the study participants into two groups. One group walked or jogged for 30 minutes three days a week, while another group simply took the antidepressant Zoloft. At the end of four months, both groups improved dramatically. But the real surprise came when the researchers checked back in with the participants six months later. Thirty-eight percent of the Zoloft group had fallen back into depression, compared to only 8% of the exercise group. So I say, when you’re feeling blue, just throw on your walking shoes!

Tip # 4: Feel the After-Burn

Wouldn’t it be great if your body kept burning extra calories even after you were done with a workout? Well guess what? It does! Known as the “after-burn,” or more technically as excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), it’s the additional calories your body burns after you finish a workout. During EPOC, your body replenishes its energy sources, reoxygenates the blood, brings core temperature back to normal, and returns the heart and breathing to resting rates. All of this effort is done to return your body to homeostasis (its natural, balanced state), which can take several hours. This extra “work” burns calories, maximizing your workout for hours after you stop exercising!

Tip # 5: Fight Fat at Night

Those eight hours after your head hits the pillow aren’t just for dreaming. While you sleep, your body actually repairs and rebuilds your muscles. But if you eat too close to bedtime, your body will spend its energy digesting the food in your tummy and not recuperating your muscles. Worse yet, your metabolism slows at night, which means many of the calories you eat late in the evening will be stored as fat. Unfortunately, many of us are late-night snackers and need to learn to overcome these urges. The most important thing you can do is eat enough during your day. Skipping meals will slow down your metabolism and make you susceptible to late-night binges. Many people eat a lot before bedtime not because they’re hungry, but because they are bored, tired, lonely, or depressed. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry before you even step into the kitchen or dip into your snack stash.