x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The right choices to boost your system

The food you eat goes a long way in determining your metabolism, so instead of crash dieting, choose foods that will help to burn calories.

Choosing the right foods can help your metabolism move up a gear.
Choosing the right foods can help your metabolism move up a gear.

If you're hoping to shed a few pounds before your summer holiday, forget crash diets. There are some natural and healthy ways to give your metabolism a nudge and burn a few extra calories. Metabolism is the process that converts food into energy in the body. The rate at which you burn calories depends on many factors including body size, genetics, medical conditions, age and gender - men's metabolisms tend to be higher than females. It isn't static and changes through the life cycle - generally, the older you get, the more sluggish it becomes. While it's true that your ability to dramatically change your metabolism is limited, there are a few things you can do to give it a boost.

It may sound counterproductive, but if you're eating too little, it may be time to add to your diet. One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is to drastically reduce their calorie intake. While cutting back on portions and consuming fewer calories is certainly a key to successful weight loss, there is a fine line that if crossed, can backfire. Consuming too few calories, usually less than 1,200 per day often means the needle on the weigh scale stays put, or even starts to creep up. That's because your body has gone into survival mode and slows down to conserve energy. When you starve your body of enough for normal day-to-day function, it clings to any calories it can get. That's why crash diets are ineffective; they can also pose serious health risks.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for several reasons. It is a prime opportunity to stock up on important vitamins and minerals and acts as a start button for your metabolism. During sleep your metabolism slows down, but it then receives a jump-start at breakfast. Giving it a wake-up call by eating your morning meal gets it going for the day, so you can burn more calories in the long run. Studies consistently show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. Healthy breakfast combinations include slow-digesting carbohydrates such as whole grains, and lean protein including beans, legumes, labneh and eggs.

One of the best ways to keep your metabolism revved is to eat regularly spaced meals throughout the day. Long periods of time between meals slows calorie burning, so it's important to eat something, whether it's a meal or light snack, every four to five hours. Regular meal timing also keeps blood sugar levels stable - a must for diabetics and anyone trying to lose weight and keep their hunger at bay.

When you eat, the body uses energy to access calories and other nutrients. Digesting and processing is called the thermic effect and varies from food to food. Meals that contain protein, rather than fat or carbohydrate-rich foods, require the most energy to digest, giving the metabolism a boost in the process. Eating protein - fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs and legumes - helps you feel full for longer, and you'll likely consume fewer calories in the long run.

Forget expensive supplements claiming to boost your metabolism or burn fat. Most of these products are based on junk science and are not only ineffective, they may have undesirable and even dangerous side effects. Your best bet is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits to naturally and gradually increase your metabolism. Don't underestimate the basics of eating well, moderation and regular physical activity in achieving and maintaining the ideal weight for your body type.