boost-your-metabolismMore than 60% of Americans blame a sluggish metabolism for excess pounds, according to a recent Calorie Control Council survey. We have identified six simple strategies that can stoke your calorie-burning fire. Give them a try and end the metabolic blame game once and for all.

1. Hit The Weight Room
“Starting around age 35, women lose 5-10% of their lean muscle mass per decade”, says Michele S. Olsen, PhD and professor of Exercise Science at Auburn University. “So when you’re 45, even if you weigh the same as you used to, you’ve probably lost about eight pounds of muscle and replaced it with eight pounds of fat.” Studies have found that women can gain about a pound of muscle each month, just by doing 8 to 12 reps of strength exercises four times per week.

2. Ditch Crash Dieting
More than half of people who are trying to lose weight say that they crash diet or fast, follow a restrictive program, or skip meals, according to a recent survey. You’ve probably heard that when you don’t eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolic rate decreases. If you’re not eating enough, you’re most likely losing muscle, not fat. If you exercise regularly, your body needs at least 1,500 calories per day.

3. Don’t Party Too Hard
Sip no more than one drink a day. And make it a glass of wine, preferably red. In a recent review of studies at the University of Navarra in Spain, vino wasn’t associated with weight gain, but hard liquor was. This may be because the compound resveratrol, found in the skin of grapes, inhibits the production or accumulation of fat.

4. Cut Back on Sugar
The American Heart Association suggests that women limit added sugars to no more than about 100 calories a day. Limit your consumption of added sugar by keeping processed foods in check and scanning ingredients lists for any word ending in ose (including dextrose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose). The closer to the top of the list these ingredients are, the higher the sugar content.

5. Get More Sleep
Although 8 hours a night is ideal, seven is enough to ward off weight gain and enhance overall health. Even if you’re not getting that amount, strive to turn in and wake up at the same time every day.

6. Squelch Stress
Take a good, hard look at the stressors in your life. Strive to minimize them wherever possible, whether that means taking a personal day from work, or coming up with a new system for organizing your desk. Better yet, practice stress-management techniques, like regular exercise and meditation. The more relaxed you are, the better everything in your life will function, including your metabolism.

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