Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies book cover

Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies

By: Rachel Berman Published: 05-06-2013

The easy way to boost your metabolism and lose weight... for good!

People often wonder why their dieting and exercise efforts seem to result in little or no weight loss. Some people may have to work hard to simply maintain their current weight. With such a dilemma, they may blame their woes on a "slow metabolism".  Unfortunately, there is no miracle diet that works for everyone because everyone has a unique body type and traits which impact their metabolic rate. Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies helps you identify why your efforts have failed in the past and determine how to shift your unique metabolism into high gear by eating specific foods and performing particular exercises. Transform your mind and body for good with what Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies offers:

An explanation of common misconceptions about metabolism

How to calculate and influence one's metabolic rate

How to get in the right mindset and embark on the path to lifestyle change

How to navigate the grocery store for metabolism boosting foods and 40+ quick and easy recipes

Meal planning tips and smart strategies for eating out

Metabolism boosting workouts

Tips to get family onto the healthy metabolism wagon

If you're looking for a fun and easy-to-understand guide that shows you how to put your metabolism to work, increase overall health, and get the body you've always wanted, Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies has you covered.

Articles From Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies

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Boosting Your Metabolism For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 04-08-2022

Along with making some lifestyle changes and adding exercise, your diet has a lot to do with boosting your metabolism. Sometimes making the right choices about what to eat isn't so easy, and these decisions are often fraught with anxiety because of the conflicting messages we all receive about food and health in the media. It doesn't have to be so tough. With a little foreknowledge and preparation, you can eat foods that will boost your metabolism without being stressed out about it.

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Full-Body Metabolism-Boosting Exercises

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

When you’re short on time, you can make the most of the weight or resistance work that you do using metabolism-boosting exercises that work multiple muscles of your body.

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Upper Body and Core Metabolism-Boosting Exercises

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Core, or abdominal, exercise is integral to almost every movement because it helps with so much: balance, coordination, and flexibility. It also improves your performance with cardio workouts. Although your abs may recover more quickly than other muscles, remember that they still need rest too.

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Yoga and Pilates Exercises to Boost Your Metabolism

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Taking exercise classes is great when you're trying to boost your metabolism. You can discover new movements that speak to you, learn proper technique from an instructor, and stay engaged with a variety of workouts. Yoga is not only for spiritual peace of mind — it can be super hard. There are many different kinds of yoga, from Bikram (hot yoga) to Hatha (slow poses, good for beginners) to Vinyasa (more fast-paced, flowing movements). They all have benefits for mind and body, relaxation, flexibility, and improving your metabolic rate. Pilates, like yoga, works all muscles in your body to improve your strength and ability with any exercise. Unlike traditional yoga, equipment is commonly used in Pilates, such as the Reformer, which helps optimize the moves and your posture, spine flexibility, and core strength. However, there are also mat classes, which can benefit you in more ways than one.

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Best Bedtime Foods to Promote Sleep and Boost Metabolism

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

''It's okay to have a snack before bed, especially if it's been many hours since dinner. This will prevent you from going to bed hungry, which can interfere with sleep. However, now that you know it's okay to eat before bedtime, that doesn't give you free rein to finish off that carton of ice cream or leftover lasagna! Greasy or salty foods are tough on your bedtime digestion. Same with any food that's spicy or acidic, like tomato sauce or citrus fruits, which can increase heartburn. In addition, although ice cream is a popular late night and refreshing treat, the simple sugars can cause an increase in energy, or alertness which offsets that sleepy feeling. The old adage about having a glass of warm milk before bedtime isn't a myth! Warm liquids make you sleepy by increasing body temperature. Also, dairy contains tryptophan plus calcium to boost your sleep-well chemicals. The ideal snack before bedtime is about 200 calories and is a combination of carbohydrate plus a bit of protein. That's best to help you get to your happy place. Calming components Tryptophan: An amino acid in turkey that purportedly increases sleepiness helps your body produce serotonin, or the feel-good hormone, which makes you feel calm and promotes good sleep. It works best when the stomach is empty or there's not too much protein in your system — so with turkey, the effect is somewhat dampened. Protein perks you up with the amino acid tyrosine, which is another reason why you don't want a protein-dense snack pre-bed. It takes about an hour for tryptophan to reach the brain, so plan the timing of your snack accordingly. Best sources for sleep: Whole grains and seeds. Melatonin: The same stuff that's affected by light and regulates your internal sleeping clock is also found naturally in some foods. Best sources for sleep: Oats and cherries. Calcium: Calcium can convert tryptophan into melatonin. Calcium is also important for nerve impulses, and a deficiency may interrupt your sleep. Best sources for sleep: Low-fat milk and yogurt. Magnesium: Helps decrease the production of cortisol, your stress hormone, that thwart a good night's sleep. Magnesium is also key for muscle contraction so that your legs aren't cramping up in the middle of the night. Best sources for sleep: Almonds and bran cereal. Potassium: Important to prevent muscle cramping and Restless Leg Syndrome, which can keep you up when you're trying to power down. Best sources for sleep: Banana and sweet potato. Ten great bedtime snacks Oatmeal with sliced banana Edamame Air-popped popcorn Bran cereal with soy milk Whole wheat crackers with hummus Roasted pumpkin seeds Cherry smoothie (frozen cherries plus skim milk) Low-fat yogurt with ground flaxseed Whole wheat toast with almond butter A calming cup of chamomile tea

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Eating Real Food to Boost Your Metabolism

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The standard American diet is synonymous with overly processed, high-salt, fatty foods. When you start focusing on eating real food — as it's found in nature — you're automatically cutting out a lot of metabolism-busting nutrients and adding back in the nourishing factors like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. If you can't picture the food you're eating growing on a tree (there's no such thing as a candy bar tree, sorry) or coming from an animal, it's technically not a real food as nature intended us to eat. Sure, the foods you eat could have originated as a plant, but then they are processed beyond recognition into a non-real food, like a potato that becomes potato chips or French fries. Your body simply doesn't recognize these man-made, artificial products in the same way it recognizes real food and it responds in ways that can be harmful to your health. It's important that when you pick up a product, you read the ingredients label. If there are more than five ingredients and you can't pronounce half of them, that's a cue that what lies within isn't a real food. Also stay away from these additives: Trans fats: A man-made fat created by hydrogenating oils so that they're solid at room temperature, trans fats are found in fried foods, commercial baked goods, and many processed snack foods. Trans fats have been shown to increase cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Sodium nitrate: Nitrates can be toxic to our bodies. They're found in many processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, deli meats, and smoked fish. Too much sodium in general can cause increased blood pressure and risk for heart disease. But nitrates in the presence of protein have also been linked to increased risk for cancer. Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Notorious for being present in Chinese food, MSG is also used as a taste enhancer in foods such as canned vegetables and processed meats, in the form of glutamic acid. Many people have adverse physical reactions to MSG, including migraines, increased heartbeat, chest pain, and nausea. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS): HFCS is found as a replacement for sugar in a plethora of products from sodas to salad dressings, and research shows that these foods may increase inflammation in the body. Getting too much sugar in general can increase risk for obesity and disease. Refined sugar: Eat too much refined sugar found in white breads, sugar cereals, candy, and soda, and your body converts the excess into triglycerides, increasing your risk for heart disease. In addition, more insulin is released, causing your blood sugar to spike and drop and increasing food cravings later on, resulting in low energy. Artificial sweeteners: Added to foods for sweetness sans calories, artificial sweeteners can make your brain think you're getting a sweet food. That causes your body to releases insulin to prepare to utilize blood glucose. When it doesn't get what it's looking for, that in turn increases food cravings. Many artificial sweeteners can also cause headaches, migraines, and stomach upset. Food coloring: Added to make foods look brighter and more appealing to eat, food colorings like Blue 1 and 2, Red 3, Green 3, and Yellow 5 and 6 have been linked to behavioral problems in children, allergic reactions, and cancer. These colors are found mostly in processed foods — which is another reason to skip them for the foods as found in nature. Fast foods contain many of those ingredients, even if they don't come with a food label. Therefore, avoid fast foods, read food labels, and get your real food sans additives from places you can trust: Your local bakery: To cut down on the number of ingredients on your food label, get fresh bread from a bakery. Commercially made bread products contain added ingredients like sodium to maintain a longer shelf life. Your butcher: A butcher knows about the leanest cuts of protein, where the animal comes from, and the practices used on the farm if you choose hormone-free, organic, or only grass-fed meat products. Your butcher also doesn't use pink slime — filler for ground beef products that is essentially scrap meat pieces ground together and treated with antibacterial solution. The presence of pink slime in meat products isn't labeled and is currently under contention. Your local farmer's market: The fruits and vegetables at a nearby farmer's market are in season and haven't traveled far, which means they contain the most nutrition without additives. Remember to thoroughly wash your produce, even if it's organic, to minimize bacteria. Organic dairy: To eliminate consumption of hormones or antibiotics fed to cows, choose organic dairy products. Make them low-fat dairy products to save on saturated fat. Cook at home: When dining out, there are ingredients you wouldn't even guess at in the dish. To be 100 percent sure of the food you're eating, start prepping meals at home. If you're a newbie, start with once per week and build up to more. Purchase a simple cookbook for easy meals.

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Coping with Stress to Fix Your Metabolism

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Do you automatically correlate stress with negative emotions and situations? Here's a reality check for you: Stress is a normal response to events and is unavoidable. But it's not always a "bad" thing in our lives. Stress can actually be a positive force to motivate us to succeed, keep us focused, and help us grow personally and professionally . . . up to a point. Everyone has a different tolerance for how much stress they can handle. It's really about how you respond to the major stressors in your life which makes all the difference with regard to your mental and physical health. When you're stressed out, your body reacts by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, your stress hormones. Your body senses emotional stress or the demand from being overwhelmed by what's going on around you, whether that be having an argument with your boss, struggling to pay bills, or dealing with a recent loss. When you sense physical danger, this hormonal response is very sudden — called the fight or flight response — giving you the energy to fight or escape the situation completely. You may have heard stories about superhuman strength in times of crisis, such as a woman being able to single-handedly lift a car when her child is trapped underneath. This is actually due to more adrenaline pumping, which speeds up metabolism to mobilize energy for you to use however you need. Cortisol also works to increase glucose in the blood to use for energy. Sounds like it could be a good thing, no? The problem is that the type of stress you experience internally from situations you can't control, emotionally, and from being tired and overworked results in a release of more adrenaline and cortisol for weeks, months, years at a time — not just a quick spurt. Your body can't use that excess created energy, and you become desensitized to being able to do so over time. Cortisol takes that extra glucose floating around, which is supposed to be used for energy, and stores it as fat instead, resulting in weight gain and a slowing metabolic rate in the long run. In addition to the physiological level, you have the ways you cope with stress, such as not sleeping or turning to food or smoking, which add even more metabolism-busters to the equation. However, by learning how to relax and taking time for yourself without turning to unhealthy habits, you can lower your cortisol levels and reverse the effects years of stress have had on your body. Surefire signs you are too stressed First, you need to identify how stress is putting a damper on your life. Once you recognize the signs, you'll be even more motivated to take time to take care of yourself because you understand how it's truly affecting you and, often, your loved ones and everyone around you: Your appetite changes. Either you eat more or less. You may turn to food to fill a void or as a means of calming down, OR stress might cause an anxious stomach or decreased digestion and therefore, appetite. Your sleep patterns change. Are you up tossing and turning and not getting enough sleep, or are you overworked and overtired and you just can't get enough sleep? You're a moody rollercoaster. Because of stress alone, or with a combination of changes in sleep and eating patterns, your mood changes like the weather. You can feel depressed, anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, and frustrated, which you then take out on innocent bystanders, from friends to family to the waiter taking your order. You turn to substances. Many people start relying too heavily on alcohol or drugs to make worries temporarily disappear and relax. Chain-smoking becomes almost a nervous tic to get you through the day. You're always sick. Your immune system is unable to fight off illness when you're stressed, so you're coming down with colds, the flu, and digestive problems. Subsequently, stress increases inflammation, which plays a role in raising your risk for conditions from asthma to heart disease. You neglect the important things. If you can't cope with stress effectively, your performance at work and school could suffer. You may lack concentration, miss deadlines, and just feel fatigued about life in general. Similarly, you may isolate yourself from your friends, family, and activities you love to do. This makes you feel lonely, which then makes it even more difficult to deal with stress in the first place. Making your mental health a priority Everyone deals with stress differently, but the one common thread for doing so successfully in a healthy manner is to understand how to make your mental health a priority. If you truly value your physical health and boosting your metabolic rate, you'll take action to improve the mental piece of the puzzle. If you always feel anxious or say, "I don't even have time to breathe, things are so crazy," you need to start reevaluating the role you're playing in letting stressors take over your life. True, certain situations may be out of your immediate control, but the way you respond is completely within your grasp. That's not to say you have to put blame on yourself — just take some responsibility. What works for one person might not work for another when it comes to stress management. Depending on what you struggle with the most, here are some strategies to help you deal with demands: Find a balance. Letting one thing take over your life, such as work, a relationship, or family life, will make you feel overwhelmed. Take time to relax, whether that's through exercise or meditation or reading a book. Rethink how you spend your time. If you feel like you have no extra time to take for yourself, not even 15 minutes, you need to think about how you are spending your day and whether there are activities or errands you can cut out. Manage your time. Use a calendar to keep all your appointments in check so you don't feel like a chicken with its head cut off throughout the day. Prioritize what's most important or the most difficult and time consuming. Don't procrastinate. Exercise: Getting exercise releases your feel-good endorphins and can help reduce depression and improve your sleep. Any type of movement you do helps you clear your mind and reduce all those anxious thoughts. Get support: Just spending time with friends and family can make you remember what life is all about. Research shows that people with a solid support system and pets who love them unconditionally have less stress and can manage it better than those who don't. And your loved ones can provide insightful suggestions for you when it comes to the challenges in your life. This can also be tough because they aren't objective, so seeking out counseling from a professional may be what you need.

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The Metabolism Booster's Guide to Food Shopping

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Grocery shopping is one of the greatest ways to jump-start a healthy eating regimen — that is, of course, if you're planning ahead for the excursion, making nutritious choices, buying foods that you'll realistically eat, and understand how to pair those foods together into snacks and meals. How not to go grocery shopping There's a time and a place for grocery shopping, and it's not wise to go on a whim without a plan. You may make impulse purchases based on clever marketing techniques or whichever foods you're craving. How many times have you grabbed a candy bar as you're checking out at the cash register? With that in mind, here's what not to do when it comes to grocery shopping: Never go hungry: When you're hungry, your hungry hormone, ghrelin, has a way of dictating to your brain what you must purchase. If you don't have the resolve to resist, you may be walking out of the store with jumbo bag of your favorite cookies. Remember, when you don't get enough sleep, your ghrelin is elevated as well, so keep that in mind being heading to the grocery after a sleepless night. Don't go without a list: Once you get into the store and navigate the aisles, you may forget why you came in the first place. Skip specialty stores for basic items: Sure, you want to check out the new Italian market that opened up in your town. That's not a reason to do all of your food shopping there. You'll end up spending a lot more money and buying foods you'll try once but end up tossing in the trash. Instead, peruse and go in for a specific item you know you can't get anywhere else. Forget about "only shopping the perimeter" Be smart about grocery shopping — in every aisle of the store. The advice to only shop the perimeter (or outside) of a supermarket is outdated. Where did this advice come from in the first place? Fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and dairy are typically stocked around the outside of your supermarket, whereas boxed and processed foods are in the center. You need to be wary of a few perimeter departments, though. For example, the deli counter and freezer sections also line the edges of a store; these are stocked with the exact opposite of fresh foods, often with options loaded in sodium and preservatives. You need to hit up the middle of the store for the aisles containing beans, whole grains, cereals, pastas, nuts and nut butters, oils, and spices. Making a budget-conscious grocery list A grocery list created with a healthy mindset helps you stay on track when navigating the supermarket aisles, where temptation abounds. You'll spend less money and waste less food since there's less risk for impulse buys. Here are three steps to make the best list (and minimize multiple trips to the grocery store): Take inventory of what's already in your kitchen. It can be very frustrating when you're at the store and you can't remember how much cereal you have left in your cupboard. Think about foods you might have thrown out and the nutritious foods you can replace them with. Organize your list based on grocery store section so you get everything (produce, condiments, dairy, etc.) at once. Be supermarket-savvy to shop for metabolism-boosting foods on any budget: Store-prepared meals, pre-mixed marinade or rubs, pre-cut and washed fruit and veggies will cost you extra for the labor. Individual serving sizes of foods often charge you extra for the packaging. Get a set of air-tight containers and portion out items on your own. Don't shop by brand. With store or generic versions, you often get an identical product for less. Out-of-season fresh fruits and veggies are pricier due to lower supply. Remember, frozen or dried fruits and veggies are just as nutritious and last longer than fresh. Understanding food labels Two-thirds of Americans read food labels, but that doesn't mean they understand them. Here are some claims found on labels and what they mean: "Good source" of vitamin, mineral: Must have 10 percent of USDA's daily allowance. "High source" of vitamin, mineral: Must have 20 percent of USDA's daily allowance. Low Fat: Must have 3 grams or less per serving. Reduced Fat: At least 25 percent less fat than its original version. Lite (refers to fat, calories, sodium): Must have 50 percent less sodium or fat, 1/3 fewer calories than original version. Low sodium: Must have less than 140 milligrams sodium per serving. Lean meat: Less than 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated, 95 milligrams cholesterol (per 100 grams). 100% whole wheat: Made with real whole-wheat flour. USDA Organic: Must have 95 percent organic ingredients. And here are some claims to be wary of: "Natural": Not regulated by FDA, the word is used for marketing to evoke ideas about the product that it's fresh and minimally processed. Look at the number of ingredients — the more there are, the less "natural" it likely is. "Multigrain": Simply means there is more than one type of grain. Doesn't mean it's whole grain. Check ingredients to see if a whole-wheat product is among the first three. "Made with Real Fruit": No regulation on how much fruit is needed to make this claim, so the fruit content could be just one blueberry or a drop of juice. Check ingredients to make sure it doesn't contain high-fructose corn syrup. Here's what you need to know about the food label to make metabolism-boosting choices: Serving Size: The amount of food that equals one serving is listed by weight or portion. Similar foods use the same measurements, so you can make comparisons. Servings Per Container: This is often overlooked. You need to multiply all nutrition facts by this number to get total content in the package. Calories: Check to see if a serving fits into your allotment for a snack or meal. Fat: Limit to foods that have less than 30 percent of calories from fat. Saturated Fat: Don't consume more than 10–15 grams per day. Fiber: Choose high-fiber foods like whole grains and cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Sugar: Not all sugar is detrimental to your waistline. Sugar can be natural or added, but unfortunately the label doesn't distinguish between the two. Choose mostly natural sugars from foods like fresh fruit, whole grains, and milk. Less than 200 calories per day should come from added sugars. Percent Daily Value: This is based on a 2,000-calorie diet — you may need more or less. In general, 5 percent or less is considered low, and 20 percent or more is high for all nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. So if it has more than 20 percent of saturated fat or sodium, it's a product to place back on the shelf. Once the nutrients check out for you on the Nutrition Facts label, take a look at the ingredient list. Check the order of ingredients. Ingredients must be listed in order of most to least quantity, so the closer to the top of the list, the more of it there is in the product. Here's a great rule: If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. Some experts suggest you only eat food products that contain five ingredients or fewer, which indicates that the food is less processed. You might see some foods that list calories, saturated fat, sodium, nutrients, etc. on the front of the package. Don't be too lazy to turn the food package over and look at the full picture.

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Chemicals to Eliminate from Your Diet

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Some food-related chemicals were created by man with the purpose of improving your health. However, in many cases, they have the opposite effect. They're disguised within foods in one way or another, and it's important that you make sure they're not a mainstay of your metabolism boosting diet. The three food biggest culprits of this are trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Trans fats Trans fats are found in many common processed foods and are the most damaging for your cholesterol levels and heart of any fat out there. This is why they're being banned left and right from restaurants in major cities and in food products. But they might still be lurking in your kitchen. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume less than 2 grams of trans fat per day. Although food products can claim to have 0 (zero) trans fats, they may still have 0.5 grams or less. Still, there are ways to reduce your intake of these artificially made fats in your diet. When in doubt, read the ingredients list and be aware of the items that commonly contain trans fats: Hydrogenated vegetable oil Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil Vegetable shortening Vegetable oils rich in trans fats include soybean, canola, and palm fruit. Here are some common food products that contain trans fats: Baked goods like cakes, cookies, pies, and their mixes Breads and crackers Breakfast cereals Candy and chocolate Condiments like salad dressing and non-dairy creamers French fries Potato chips, corn chips Frozen pizza Fish sticks Margarine Microwave popcorn Condiments may be the most surprising source of trans fats. Don't assume because a food isn't fried or a snack food that it doesn't contain these damaging fats. Those brands that you've habitually purchased for years may be the biggest culprits. So check all the labels of your old favorites as well as the new items you think about bringing into your kitchen. Artificial sweeteners These are added to foods to provide sweetness sans calories. It's true they can be a decent alternative to high-sugar foods, in the sense that they can help control calorie intake and reduce the risk of dental cavities. However, artificial sweeteners have been shown to have negative effects on blood glucose levels, appetite, and digestive system, resulting in a slower metabolic rate over time. Replacing artificial sweeteners with all-natural sweeteners automatically increases the calories you're taking in. Try an all-natural zero calorie sweetener like stevia and try to limit your portion size of anything that contains calories. Over time, you'll be able to wean yourself off the artificial stuff habit. The following are artificial sweeteners: Saccharin Sucralose Aspartame Neotame Acesulfame potassium Common foods that contain artificial sweeteners are often promoted as diet, low-calorie, and sugar free: Baked goods Soft drinks Puddings and yogurts Jams and jellies Gum and mints Candies Just because a food product is labeled as diet doesn't mean it's beneficial for your metabolism. Actually it's probably not so hot. To cut down on one ingredient, the manufacturer has to add something else to make the food taste good — often "imposters" or other nutrients you don't need more of. For example, reduced-fat peanut butter contains more sugar in place of a dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Sugar-free candies don't have sugar, but they do contain artificial sweeteners. The exceptions here are milk, yogurt, and cheese. You want to choose low-fat products and pick the brand with the fewest ingredients to minimize the preservatives added. Low-fat milk gives you most of the same health benefits of calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals but without the saturated fat of whole milk. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) You may only correlate MSG with Chinese food or fast-food restaurants, but it's present in a lot of the food products you may purchase for your home. MSG's main function is as a flavor enhancer — a type of salt — but it can have a hormone-disrupting effect on your metabolism. MSG is also known on an ingredient list as any of the following: Hydrolyzed vegetable or soy protein Textured protein Processed free glutamic acid Glutamate Yeast extract, food, or nutrient Sodium caseinate MSG is found in products such as these: Instant soup mixes or boullion Salad dressings Canned gravy Salted nuts Processed cheese spreads Flavored potato chips Frozen meals Protein powder drinks Dry milk powder Cutting down on products containing these chemicals often also means cutting down on preservatives and other additives found in foods. The more natural foods you consume, the more your metabolism gets boosted. You have control over what's in your kitchen, so make it a haven for more real foods because you don't necessarily know what it's your food when dining out.

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Ten Ways to Relax

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You deserve to relax. And making time for it allows you to be more productive the rest of the day, which boosts your metabolic rate. Taking a break gives your brain and body time to recover and operate the best they can. Research shows that taking just 15–20 minutes to relax every day can do all of the following: Improve your immune system Lower blood pressure and risk for heart attack and stroke Reduce pain, headaches, and digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome Improve pre-menstrual symptoms Reduce cortisol levels and junk food cravings Improve your sleep, energy levels, and mood Improve your memory and help you make better decisions At some point in your life, you knew how to chill out, and it's possible you just forgot along the way. How do you re-learn how to relax? Here are some ways to do it. Take a class Take a class at a local studio or gym as a primer. Many activities that help you relax are based on repetition, whether it's with breathing, saying a word, or doing an action. Meditate There are many different types of meditation, but here's a simple way to do it at home. For 15–20 minutes every day, sit in a comfortable position — maybe with your legs crossed on the ground or in a cozy chair — and close your eyes. Dim the lights. Take deep breaths and repeat a word or mantra (such as "I'm boosting my metabolism!") over and over. Whenever a stressful thought comes into your head, try to push it out quickly (this gets easier with time). Practice yoga Yoga means union in Sanskrit. The practice of yoga is an ancient form of exercise that can help you connect with your breath, your body, and mind. It's not just about stretching — it also helps increase flexibility and strength. Do martial arts The Chinese martial arts of Qigong and Tai Chi can, like yoga, be thought of as meditation in motion. Often, they involve repeating the same motions at varying levels of difficulty, whether while standing, sitting, or lying down, depending on which art you're practicing. Pamper yourself Get a spa treatment like a massage or pedicure. Or draw yourself a bubble bath with aromatic oils. If you have trouble disconnecting from your stress in these situations, close your eyes and imagine a place (a beach, a forest, etc.) that makes you calm. Put on a happy face A study published in Psychological Science found that people who smiled during stressful experiences, whether or not it was forced, had an easier time recovering from that situation than those with neutral expressions. Want an easy way to smile? Rent a funny movie and laugh. Laughing also releases endorphins. Develop a hobby Knitting, crocheting, and painting are thought of as particularly calming because they involve repetitive motions that distract your mind. But anything you enjoy will serve the same purpose, such as fishing, reading, or playing a sport. Hobbies can help you unwind. Play music Alongside any of the activities already mentioned, or all on its own, music can be very powerful for helping you relax. Music affects your brainwaves to help bring about a more positive state of mind. In fact, music therapy is used in hospitals to help calm patients and improve depression. So, rock out to your favorite tunes whenever you're feeling down. Consider biofeedback Biofeedback uses machines that measure signs of distress, such as heart rate, brain waves, muscle tension, and skin temperature, to show you what triggers your stress response. Then you can test out different types of relaxation techniques to see what works for you in addition to learning how to prevent the stress from getting to you in the first place. Biofeedback can be done with a professional like a therapist or at home with less sophisticated devices.

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