Monthly Archives: January 2016

Can Tea Boost Your Metabolism?

You’ve probably heard the idea that tea can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories. Study after study shows it can – but to what extent? In one study done by the University of Geneva, Switzerland (albeit small, but still conclusive with this group), participants were divided into three groups: Group One took 50mg of green tea extract, Group Two took 50mg of caffeine and Group Three took a placebo.

During the study, participants were housed in a respiratory chamber where their energy expenditure and thermogenesis were measured. At the conclusion of the study, Group One showed a 4% increase in thermogenesis and a 4.5% overall increase in energy expenditure over the other two groups.

So can tea really make a difference?

Can a 4.5% increase in energy expenditure really make a difference in one’s weight loss endeavors? Yes and no.

From the aspect that whatever we can do to help speed up our metabolism, and ultimately help with weight loss, is beneficial in the long run. And when added to the other things we are doing to speed up our metabolism, yes it can.

No, from the aspect that it is unreal to expect that drinking a cup or two of tea per day will be the answer to weight loss for an obese person. After all, 4.5% of a 1,500 calorie diet is only about 60 calories, but as said before, it can be part of a synergistic effect when added together with other metabolism-increasing efforts.

Types of tea

Although the study referenced only took green tea into consideration, other types of tea have also proven themselves to increase metabolism and ultimately weight loss:

Oolong – Increases fat burning by 157% in addition to increasing metabolism and blocking fat absorption.
Pu erth – Improves digestion along with increasing metabolism.
Feiyan – Suppresses your appetite along with improving metabolism and the burning of fat.
White – Stimulates the burning of fat while stopping the generation of new fat cells.
Peppermint – Served hot or cold, it not only speeds up digestion, but helps burn more calories.
Porangaba – Boosts weight loss while suppressing your appetite. Has also shown to reduce fatty deposits and cellulite.

Drinking tea is not enough

While drinking tea does help increase your metabolism, alone it is not enough to promote any appreciable weight loss. However, when added to a consistent exercise routine including both cardio and weight lifting along with a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, the three-pronged approach creates a recipe for substantial weight loss.

Can Stress Slow Down the Rate at Which You Burn Fat?

Our bodies can handle a normal amount of stress just fine. However, when we are constantly over-stressed is when it begins to cause problems. And the reason is because stress throws our hormone levels out of whack.

When our body senses a “fight or flight” situation, it releases more of the hormone cortisol to help deal with the perceived situation. One of the results of increased cortisol over time is overeating. Overeating leads to weight gain which causes your metabolism to slow down, thus causing your body to burn less fat and store more.

And if you are not getting enough sleep, because you are staying awake at night worrying about the issues causing your stress that can affect your metabolism also. When you are sleep deficient, your body has a hard time metabolizing carbohydrates causing your blood sugar level to rise.

In response, your body releases more insulin to help lower your blood sugar level. To help reduce your blood sugar level, your body metabolizes your blood sugar, but because it doesn’t need to use the calories right now, it stores them as fat.

Stress not only causes you to gain weight, by not getting enough sleep and increasing your level of cortisol, but it is also slows down your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns fat. And if you are not getting enough sleep, you are more apt to be tired throughout the day and not exercise – the main way to help speed up your metabolism and lose weight.

By exercising, you burn calories at a higher rate than if you did not exercise; exercise also helps relieve stress. If you have less stress, you’ll sleep better. If you sleep better, then your body will do a better job of metabolizing carbohydrates meaning you’ll lose weight. By reducing your stress level through exercise, your body will not flood your bloodstream with cortisol, thus helping keep your appetite in check and preventing the associated weight gain.

But there is another aspect of exercising that can help you burn more calories – building muscle mass. We are not talking body-building type of muscle mass gain – just some toning and defining with a little increase in size. The amount of muscle mass you have directly affects how many calories your muscles burn day in and day out. The more muscle you have, the more calories it takes per day to keep them going, even without taking in consideration the number of calories burned through exercise.

By exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, you are also burning more calories than you would if you did not exercise. But to build muscle mass for the long-term calorie burning effect, the type of exercising you do is important.

Strength training or weight training is the best type of exercise to build muscle mass. A program of four days of cardio with two days of weight training per week is a good mix to both burn the maximum number of calories and build muscle.

5 Snacks That Fuel Your Body (Rather Than Leave You Sleepy!)

Snacking is a vital part of any balanced diet, and an important method of keeping your body going during the day. However, just like with main meals, eating the wrong kind of snack foods can seriously impact on your energy levels and productivity. When people look to change their diet, they often focus on their main meals. As a result, the lowly snack is rarely given due consideration and old habits can remain. There are so many delicious, healthy snacks that won’t hurt your waistline out there, and they don’t involve lengthy preparation or bland ingredients! Here are 5 tasty snacks that will fuel your body throughout the day.

1. Hummus. Made from blended chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic, hummus has taken the world by storm in recent years. It is rich in protein, and fights hunger effectively. Unlike other snacks, hummus leaves you feeling full while having a low calorie count. Also a source of iron, hummus is energy boosting. Try it as a dip with vegetables like carrots and celery, or as a spread on whole wheat crackers or whole wheat pita bread. For the more adventurous, you can also experiment with various hummus flavors.

2. Greek Yoghurt. Greek yoghurt offers a big punch of protein, making it an excellent hunger busting snack. There are two types of Greek yoghurt, full fat and fat free. Whichever one you choose really depends on how strictly controlled your diet is. Both are an excellent source of protein, but full fat Greek yoghurt is made from full fat milk, while the fat free alternative uses skimmed milk. For those strictly controlling their calories and fat intake, the fat free option sacrifices some creaminess for a reduced fat content.

3. Blueberries. Blueberries are fast becoming the superfood of choice for health conscious dieters everywhere. Low in calories and high in antioxidants, blueberries are also packed full of nutrients like fiber and vitamin C. For those who aren’t a fan of the taste, raspberries and strawberries are sweeter yet reasonably healthy energy boosting alternatives.

4. Hard Boiled Eggs. Most commonly taken as part of a packed salad, hard boiled eggs are full of protein, and are superb at relieving hunger cravings instantly. Preparing a lunch box salad to snack on in work is one of the easiest things to do, and it makes for a delicious snack to fight the mid-afternoon lull. Just make sure to go easy on the dressing!

5. Soy Crisps. If the cravings are uncontrollable and you just have to have something that doesn’t feel like healthy food, why not try soy crisps? Made with soy flour rather than potatoes, soy crisps don’t contain any dangerous trans fats that affect your cholesterol. Soy crisps have a number of good nutrients, including a good chunk of protein, so they will give you an energy boost and indulge your cravings at the same time.

4 Vitamins That Can Help Boost Your Metabolism

Your metabolism – the rate at which you burn calories – requires certain chemicals for it to function at a high rate. Let’s look at 4 of the more important ones:

1) B-Complex

This group of vitamins is responsible for helping break down carbohydrates, fats and protein into energy the body can use. In particular B-1 breaks down carbohydrates and fats; B-5 works on fatty acids; B-6 takes care of breaking down protein; B-12 also helps break down carbohydrates and protein along with producing red blood cells; B-2 helps move energy to the cells where it can be used by muscles and organs.

2) Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 as it is commonly called, increases the production of energy within a cell’s mitochondria. Specifically CoQ10 increases the amount of oxygen available to cells. This boost in energy translates to more endurance as it not only enhances the strength of muscles while exercising, but also increases their efficiency or the level at which they work.

4) Creatine

Creatine is found in animal products and is used by muscles to store energy. However if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat enough animal products, you can suffer from too low a level. Studies have shown that creatine in the proper amount can improve muscle strength by 15 percent.

This increase in strength can also translate into weight loss as proven by an article in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”. They found that weight-training with creatine supplementation resulted in more weight loss that without the supplementation.

5) Iron

Not a real fancy name as in the other three, but it is just as important. Iron carries oxygen to your muscles so they can burn fat. Think of how a fire burns. Without oxygen it smolders, but doesn’t burn. Add oxygen and it instantly flares up and burns hot.

Your body is the same way. If deficit in iron, you’ll feel sluggish. Your aerobic capacity and physical endurance will be greatly reduced. So how do you get enough iron naturally? By eating shellfish, lean meats, beans and spinach. Vegetarians can get their iron supply from tofu.

It is easy to see how they all work together:

1. The B-complex breaks down food.
2. CoQ10 helps the mitochondria in cells convert it into energy.
3. Cretaine helps the cells store energy.
4. Iron provides the oxygen cells need in order to produce energy.

Deficient in one and the production of energy at the cellular level suffers. Have all at the minimum requirement levels and your metabolism will function well resulting in maximum calories burned.

4 Metabolism Myths, Busted!

There are probably as many myths about your metabolism as there are truths. Some of the erroneous information has been around so long and so widely promoted that many believe it to be true.

Here are 4 myths commonly accepted as truth about metabolism:

1. Never skip breakfast.
2. Hot peppers burn more calories.
3. Caffeine boosts your metabolism.
4. A pound of muscle burns 100 calories per day.

1) Never skip breakfast

The advice here has always been to eat breakfast within an hour after arising to get your metabolism revved up from your night of fasting. The truth is it is not as important that you eat as it is what you eat.

Make sure your breakfast consists of fiber, lean protein and other nutrients. The cold hard fact is if you have to choose between a doughnut and nothing, choose nothing. You don’t need the saturated fat and sugar found in most baked goods. The spike in calories burned by your metabolism from eating a doughnut isn’t enough to offset the additional calories ingested.

2) Hot peppers burn more calories

While it is true that hot peppers burn calories, a presentation from a recent study from Experimental Biology suggests mild peppers have the same calorie potential without the mouth-singeing agony.

Mild peppers contain the compound dihydrocapsiate (DCT) while hot peppers have capsaicin in them. The study found the group eating mild peppers had about the same metabolic boost as the group eating hot peppers and about twice of the placebo group. Mild peppers include bell, banana, rellenos and pimentos. Use them in stir-frys and salads.

3) Caffeine boosts your metabolism

This is mostly true also, but it is highly dependent on the source of your caffeine. Drinking black coffee and tea provides a small caffeine boost, but if you get caffeine from energy drinks, you are better off not getting any boost at all. Energy drinks are loaded with sugar – up to 1/4 cup per drink in some cases. When all that sugar hits your bloodstream, abundant amounts of insulin are released and what your body can’t use at that time is stored as fat – belly fat. One of the most dangerous kinds of fat.

If you want to burn more calories, drink more water. Increasing your water consumption can burn an additional 17,400 calories per year, or about 5 pounds.

4) A pound of muscle burns 100 calories per day

This myth has been greatly over-exaggerated. Actually while at rest, muscle burns about 6 calories per pound of muscle per hour. However that is still three times the amount that fat burns in the same amount of time – at just 2 calories per pound. So it still pays to lose body fat and gain muscle through exercising – it is just that the number of calories burned won’t be as great as reported in the media.

These are just 4 of the more popular myths that have perpetuated themselves over the years. To increase your metabolic rate, it still comes down to eating healthy foods in the correct portions consistently at the same times, along with cardio and strength training exercise.