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Do You Help or Hurt Your Metabolism?

Your daily habits and routine have a direct impact on the way your body burns calories and fat. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body converts the food you eat into energy. 

As you eat, your body’s cells turn food into fuel. Your body uses this fuel to give you the energy for your daily activities, from presenting your ground-breaking idea in the boardroom to surviving your aerobics class. 

The faster your metabolism is, the more calories you are burning. The more calories you are burning, the more weight you can lose. The opposite is also true - the fewer calories you burn, the more weight you gain. 

Find out the four common habits that could be making your metabolism sluggish and four things you could be doing to speed it up!

Habits that slow your metabolism:

1. Eating fresh produce straight from the bin.

Do not skip washing your fresh fruits and vegetables. The pesticides farmers use to protect your fruits and veggies as they grow are linked with obesity and metabolic syndrome. 

A study reported in Environmental Health Perspectives determined that the body stores pesticides in fat tissue. These stored pesticides cause inflammation in the pathways the body uses to keep your metabolism going at full speed. 

Always wash your fresh produce in running water to rinse away these metabolism-slowing pollutants. Try to buy fruits and veggies that have been grown without pesticides to avoid the issue altogether. 

2. Sitting too much.

Even if you are regularly exercising, sitting for long periods of time could be wrecking your metabolism. Studies have shown that sitting for three or more hours each day can slow down your metabolism and increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

When you sit for too long, your muscles relax and burn less fat. Three hours may seem like a long time, but if you sit behind a desk at work or spend your down time watching television or play video games, three hours can go by quickly! 

Try to break up your periods of sitting by taking short walks during your work breaks. Get up and exercise during commercial breaks or between video games.

3. Forgetting to wash your hands.

Viral infections have been linked with obesity. In a study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre at Louisiana State University, researchers found that a common respiratory virus can transform stem cells into fat cells. Protect yourself from viral infections by washing your hands often, especially after using the restroom and before eating.

4. Eating bland food.

Spice up your dinner and raise your metabolism! The food you eat may be too mild. The journal Appetite reports that adding red chili pepper to your meal can make you eat 30% less and feel fuller faster. The capsaicin in these peppers can kick your metabolism into high gear and help you eat less by stimulating the release of appetite-controlling hormones.

How to jumpstart your metabolism:

1. Start the day with breakfast.

When you skip breakfast, your body assumes that you are starving and slows down your metabolism to help you conserve energy. A study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that participants who skipped breakfast gained three pounds over four years, while those who ate breakfast only gained one pound. Another study from the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that those who did not eat breakfast on a regular basis were 4.5 times more likely to become obese. 

2. Drink water.

University of Utah researchers discovered that people who drank eight cups of water each day (64 fluid ounces) burned more calories than those who only drank four cups of water (32 ounces). 

Drink cold water for an even higher calorie burn! You have to burn calories to bring the water up to your body’s temperature. Even though it is only a few extra calories burned per glass of cold water, those calories add up over time.

3. Eat dairy. 

Eating calcium-rich snacks, like a six-ounce serving of yoghurt or a stick of string cheese, can help your body get rid of extra fat. The calcium in dairy products makes your body treat fat as waste and send it on its way out of the body, according to a University of Copenhagen study.

4. Go to bed on time.

Stanford University researchers have linked sleep-deprivation with higher body mass index (BMI). Participants who slept less than 7 ½ hours each night reported an increase in their BMI. Not enough sleep at night has a negative effect on the way your body produces metabolism-regulating hormones, causing you to feel hungry and burn energy slowly.