Easy steps you can take

Everybody’s metabolism normally slows down with age. At 40, you could consume 100 to 300 fewer calories a day than you did at 30, says Pamela M. Peeke, M.D., creator of Body for

Life for Women and assistant teacher of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. That can convert into a 10-25-pound weight gain in a year. But you can counteract that slowdown and boost your body’s fat-burning capabilities by making just a few tweaks to your daily routine. The following strategies will help you break out of a weight-loss plateau and burn even more fat.

Take five

Do five minutes of exercise every morning. We all have a metabolic thermostat, called metastatic, that can be turned up or down, and morning is the best time to activate it. Each day, you’re metastatic is waiting for signals to rev up, so the more signals you can send it, the better. Your best bet is a light, full-body activity like walking or push-ups.

Fuel up in the morning

Various reviews have found that regular breakfast eaters are often leaner than breakfast

skippers. “Your metabolism normally slows at night, but you can jump-start it in the morning by eating breakfast,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., C.D.N., co-author of Fire Up Your Metabolism. And because of both your movement level and metabolism decrease later in the day, it’s a good idea to make breakfast or lunch your largest meal.

Fill up on good grains

Whole grains, for example, brown rice, dark bread, wheat germ, whole-grain cereal, oatmeal and bran leave you feeling full because they take longer to digest than basic carbohydrates. In a review from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, specialists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School assessed the dietary intake of more than 74,000 women for 12 years. Overall, women who regularly ate the most whole-grain foods — about 1.5 servings a day — gained less weight than women who ate the least.

Pump yourself up

Muscle burns a larger number of calories than fat does, and diminished muscle mass can be one of the main reasons metabolism slows. Misuse can cause women to drop as much as 10 pounds of muscle between the ages of 30 and 50. Losing that much muscle means you will consume 350 to 500 fewer calories a day. To build and maintain muscle mass, aim for two to three strength-training workouts a week. If you don’t belong to a gym, try push-ups, squats, abdominal crunches and triceps dip off a chair.

Power on with protein

Include a little high-quality, low-fat protein, for example, chicken, egg and fish whites, to your meals, and you’ll help your body consume fat quicker. “Because protein requires more energy to digest, it speeds up your metabolism, and protein is necessary to ensure against loss of muscle tissue,” says Michael Thurmond, creator of 6 Day Body Makeover.

Get your vitamin “I”

That is “I” for the force. You love to walk, but if that usually means walking around at a snail’s pace, your waistline will pay little attention. Rather, put intensity, or “vitamin I,” into your stride. Pick up your pace so you’re walking at 4 mph or one mile per 15 minutes. Once you develop your cardiovascular fitness level, you can even alternate between walking and jogging. The key is to get your heart rate up and keep your workouts challenging.

Say yes to yogurt

In a recent review from the International Journal of Obesity, ladies who ate three daily servings of low-fat yogurt lost 60 percent more fat than ladies who did not. In another study, participants who ate three daily servings of dairy lost more than twice as much fat as those who ate less than that. “Calcium-rich diets reduce fat-producing enzymes and increase enzymes that break down fat,” says Michael B. Zemel, Ph.D., lead author of both studies and director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Eat three servings of low-fat dairy a day, like milk, yogurt and hard cheeses (Gouda, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack).

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