In my article Fat Loss and Weight Management - Learn the Basics (Part I) and Part II, I have discussed the important role your metabolism rate plays in your weight management. Your metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories every day. So higher the metabolism rate, more calories you are burning and it is easier for you to lose/manage weight. It is like passive income or an autopilot. You do the hard work one and then capitalize on it with little further effort. Great, isn't it. However, the problem is that metabolic rate declines with age (especially with a sedentary life style) and one finds it more difficult to burn body fat with workouts and diet alone.
The awareness of link between metabolism and fat loss/weight management among masses has given birth to large industry to provide shortcut / quick fix solutions for boosting the metabolism. These include, but not limited to, powders, potions, pills, drinks and secret techniques that are promised to raise metabolic rate and help burn fat. The fact is, very few of these metabolism boosters actually work.
I've examined the claims about popular metabolism boosters, from exercise to nutrition, to show which actually work and which don't merit your attention and time.
1. Fat-burner pills boost your metabolism greatly. Most fat burners are simply caffeine pills with a few other ingredients, such as green tea, Hoodia etc. Independent research hasn't proven the effectiveness of these pills. One may get an increase in mental energy through use of these pills, but that is all; one doesn't get a boost in metabolism or burn fat. So my advice would be "avoid fat burner pills".
2. Breakfast boosts metabolism. My answer would be "Breakfast boosts metabolism indirectly, not directly". Research shows that eating breakfast is associated with successful weight loss. I always advocate a rich breakfast, comprising of protein, fiber, fruit and vegetables. It keeps you satisfied and your appetite in check till your next meal. Consequently, you don't indulge is junk food eating. Try having an rich omelet containing broccoli, mushrooms and onions.
3. Ice-cold water with lemon juice. The theory is that body will burn calories to warm up the water, while lemon juice is a natural fat burner. The fact is, it is not correct.
4. Green tea. The claim is that green tea burns an extra 80 calories per day. The fact is that studies have shown burning of 80 calories in young men on the first day of supplementation. But it is not a lasting effect as the body gets used to green tea. I personally take green tea for its proven health results, especially for heart. Otherwise, green tea will help you lose weight only if you replace your high calorie caffeine mug with unsweetened green tea cup.
5. Eating small frequent meals. This has been proven to be a good metabolism boosting strategy with additional benefit of helping in cholesterol control. It is simple and effective. Start the day with breakfast and then take small meals/snack/salads/fruit and vegetable servings every four hours. This will give you mental alertness as well as make body to burn more fat.
6. High Intensity Interval training. Definitely YES. In comparison to cardio exercises, high intensity interval training results in a greater increase in post-exercise metabolism. Interval training is simply a short bout of hard exercise followed by a short bout of easy exercise, repeated 5-10 times. The article A 10-Minute Exercise Routine You Can Do Anywhere provides a good start for high intensity interval training.
7. Strength training. Definitely YES and probably the best. A recent study from the Journal of Applied Physiology has showed that strength training doubled post-exercise fat burning. So strength training must be a part of any individual's fat loss/weight management workout routine. I personally do strength training three days per week, on alternate days and work out all major muscle groups.
The conclusion is that magic pills and potions just don't work. The good news is that you can increase your metabolism through regular exercise and improved diet and eating habits.
In a nutshell, exercising, building muscles and eating the right foods in the right amounts help you keep your metabolism stoked.
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