Easy steps you can take

Everybody’s metabolism actually 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 professor 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 bust out of a weight-loss plateau and consume even more fat.

Take five

Do five minutes of activity every morning. We all have a metabolic thermostat, called the meta stat, that can be turned up or down, and morning is the best time to activate it. Every day, your meta stat 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.

Fill up on good grains

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

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 activity level and metabolism reduce later in the day, it’s a good thought to make breakfast or lunch your largest meal.

Pump yourself up

Muscle consumes a greater number of calories than fat does, and decreased muscle mass can be one of the main reasons metabolism slows. Misuse can cause ladies to drop as much as 10 pounds of muscle between the ages of 30 and 50. Losing that much muscle means you will burn 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, squats, try push-ups, 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 faster. “Because protein requires more vitality to digest, it speeds up your metabolism, and protein is important to ensure against loss of muscle tissue,” says Michael Thurmond, author of 6 Day Body Makeover.

Get your vitamin “I”

That’s “I” for strength. You want to walk, but if that typically means strolling along at a snail’s pace, your waistline will pay little attention. Instead, 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 build up 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 new study from the International Journal of Obesity, women who ate three everyday servings of low-fat yogurt lost 60 percent more fat than women who didn’t. In another study, participants who ate three everyday servings of dairy lost more than twice as much fat as those who ate less than that. “Calcium-rich diets lower 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, hard cheeses, and yogurt (Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack).

Get active after eating

Your body’s metabolic rate growth 10 percent after eating and just some minutes of activity could double that boost for up to three hours. Within 15 to 30 minutes of eating a snack or meal, do five or 10 minutes of light activity. Take the dog for a walk, climb stairs in your home or do some basic strength exercises.

Sip green tea

You may love your lattes, but if you switch to green tea, not only will you get a healthy dose of disease-fighting compounds, you’ll also cut body fat. In a study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, individual who drank a bottle of tea fortified with green tea extract daily for three months lost more body fat than people who drank black tea. Researchers at a health care lab in Tokyo believe disease-fighting antioxidants called catechins in green tea may help decrease body fat.

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