Runner's World (UK) - - Weight Loss -

‘Boost your me­tab­o­lism!’ is a pop­u­lar head­line, promis­ing ef­fort-free ways to rev up your body’s calo­rie burn, but un­for­tu­nately it’s not that sim­ple. Re­search has proven what you have prob­a­bly no­ticed: some peo­ple just burn calo­ries faster than oth­ers. They can pig out with aban­don while oth­ers only have to look at a muf­fin to put on 10lb. The sci­ence shows cer­tain fac­tors af­fect­ing your me­tab­o­lism are hard-wired. Gen­der is one: men’s ten­dency to have more mus­cle than women means their me­tab­o­lism is three to 10 per cent higher, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal In­ves­ti­ga­tion. Age can also work against you, as your basal meta­bolic rate, or BMR (the num­ber of calo­ries your body burns just to keep your vi­tal or­gans tick­ing over), drops be­tween three and five per cent per decade af­ter you turn 18.

You can’t change your genes or age, but there are cer­tain ways you can rev up your meta­bolic burn. First, get enough sleep: Re­search pub­lished in Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences found peo­ple who didn’t get enough sleep tended to eat more, while other re­search shows sleep­ing less than six hours per night means a higher risk of be­ing over­weight.

Once you’ve rested, hit the gym: each pound of mus­cle burns up to seven calo­ries per day, com­pared with just two calo­ries burned by one pound of fat. ‘If you’ve a slug­gish me­tab­o­lism, the best way to make an im­pact is to in­crease your mus­cle mass,’ says nu­tri­tion­ist Kim Lar­son. See no. 11 (p46) for the best body-weight ex­er­cises for run­ners.

In­gre­di­ents such as chilli, cin­na­mon, caf­feine and green tea are as­so­ci­ated with boost­ing me­tab­o­lism. And re­search has shown that these foods do have a slight, short-term effect so they are worth adding to your menu. But as the effect on me­tab­o­lism is min­i­mal, Lar­son says you’re bet­ter off fo­cus­ing on burn­ing calo­ries through phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. The faster you run, the more calo­ries you burn per minute. This might not boost your BMR, but it will in­crease calo­rie burn, even af­ter you’ve stopped run­ning. See no. 9 (p45) for more on how you can add some speed to your run­ning regime.

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