Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Increase your burning power

1. Become a Spice Girl. Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their hotness, lights a fire in your metabolism as well as on your tongue. Recent research indicates that eating one tablespoon of red or green chilies can give you a temporary metabolic spike of up to 23 percent! To increase your fat-burning potential, chop up some chilies and add them to a meal an hour before working out. Other great options include cayenne, white pepper, black pepper and jalapenos, according to Robyn L. Goldberg, a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles.

2. Always eat breakfast. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants who did not eat breakfast and rev their metabolism early in the day gained two times more weight over time than those who did!

3. Skip the cosmo. A study at the University of California, Berkeley revealed that having just two alcoholic beverages could slow fat-burning by up to 73 percent! Your liver converts the alcohol into acetate and starts using that as fuel instead of your fat stores. Limit your imbibing for best fat-burning results.

4. Don't skimp on sleep. There is a direct link between metabolism and circadian rhythm - your daily pattern of activity versus rest - according to a new study from the University of California, Irvine. Findings suggest that maintaining a proper sleep pattern - between six and eight uninterrupted hours a day - and a clean, healthy diet play a key role in maintaining an elevated and healthy metabolism. Lack of rest and sleep disruption can lead to obesity-related illness and accelerated aging, so turn off the television and go to bed already!
-Lara McGlashan

Salt Shocker

Being active, you're always trying to eliminate sodium from your diet - you certainly don't want the side effects of high blood pressure, heart disease or potential weight gain that come with ingesting excess salt. To stay lean and healthy, your salt intake should be no more than one teaspoon per day (2,300 mg) - that's the upper limit advocated by various agencies, including the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.
Sticking to this amount isn't too difficult if you're only eating fresh whole foods, but it's not easy to abolish processed, packaged fare from your diet. Even clean eaters can be lured in by hidden sources of salt, which account for 77 percent of the sodium in the average American's diet. While you do need some salt for basic bodily functions, you can unintentionally go over the limit if you eat too many of these sneaky sources of sodium:

* 1 protein bar = 200mg
* 1 cup low-sodium chicken noodle soup = 140mg
* 2 slices whole weat bread = 480mg
* 1 cup cottage cheese = 918mg
* 4oz smoked salmon = 889mg
* 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce = 533mg
* 1/2 cup canned spinach = 345mg
* 5 asparagus spears from a can, drained = 258mg

Bonus tip: If you must have salt, choose sea salt, and add it to your meal after it's cooked. Its well-rounded flavor can help you use 1/3 less than table salt.
-Helen Vong

Question of the Week?
Q: I would love to be able to get up in the morning and work out, but I just don't seem to have the energy. Is there something that I could eat, some sort of vitamin I could take that would boost my energy?
A: I think the answer lies more in establishing a routine that works for you than in vitamins. Have a look at your sleep schedule. What time do you go to bed regularly? What time do you wake up every morning? Add two hours on to your wake-up time to figure out the best time for you to schedule in the gym. If that conflicts with work or family obligations, try out a new sleeping schedule, in order to get to bed early enough so that you get your eight hours of sleep.
And when your sleep schedule finally agrees with you, take your time at the gym. Fitness experts warn to start slowly in morning routines because your muscles are colder and it's easier to injure yourself this way. So make sure you warm up for at least 10 minutes, and do your exercises in order of growing intensity.
Another thing to consider is breakfast. Make sure you eat the proper kind of food. When you are preparing the first meal of the day think carbohydrates. If you don't it'll slow you down. Too much protein and fat may take too long for you to digest, so be careful. Your best bet is carbs for energy. A study from the Journal of Sports Science found that eating carbohydrates before, during and after exercise delays fatigue. Pour yourself a glass of orange juice, have a bowl of cereal and top it with some fruit. But relax and don't rush to the gym. You want your energy levels to be on an even keel. If it's fast to rise, it's fast to crash.
As for vitamins - vitamins provide nutrients, not so much energy. If you are looking for energy supplements, it's best to speak with your doctor. Some supplements aren't best for everybody and he or she would be the best person to suggest your healthiest options.
-Lisa Hannam