How to Boost Your Metabolism

metabolism, boost your metabolism, lose weight, improve metabolism, increase metabolism

How to Boost Your Metabolism

Did you know our bodies are constantly burning calories, even when we’re at rest? Life sustaining activities like breaking down food, keeping your heart beating and breathing all cost calories.  The sum of these calorie expenses is your metabolism, and while the rate at which we burn calories is mostly out of our control, determined by age, sex (lucky guys!) and genetics, there is still wiggle room for improvement.  Boosting your metabolism can be a huge aid for loosing weight, if you use more calories than you consume you’ll lose weight, if you consume more than you use, you’ll gain weight. Simple.  But back to the important part, by changing a few things you can increase your metabolism so you burn far more calories a day – this means you can lose weight without increasing exercise or decreasing the amount of calories you consume.  Boosting your metabolism is as close to a magic diet pill as you can get.

Start your day off right by eating breakfast

Eating a nutrient-rich breakfast gets your engine going so it can keep going all day. The National Weight Control Registry has found that 78% of people who have lost a significant amount of weight eat a substantial breakfast everyday.  If you don’t eat when you wake up your body has no sustenance, and your metabolism will start the day off at a snails pace.  A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that volunteers who ate breakfast gained only 1.7 pounds on average over four years, those who didn’t eat it gained nearly three pounds!

Eat… more???

You know that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re hungry? That’s bad.  It means your body is in ‘starvation’ mode and your metabolism has slowed right down.  Nibbling throughout the day rather than gorging at meals, and then going hours without food, is the best way to keep your metabolism at its optimum rate.  It will also help balance blood sugar levels, which will prevent the insulin spikes that can cause weight gain.  Additionally, if you graze throughout the day you’ll consume much less at mealtime, resulting in consuming fewer calories each day. So snack, snack, snack!! Here are some great low calorie snack foods.

A good way to make sure you’re eating enough to keep you metabolism at its peak is to consume enough calories to match your resting metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate, BMR).  Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body needs to sustain normal life processes, such as keeping your heart beating, at rest.  Your BMR is determined by a number of factors including, height, weight, age and sex.  You can calculate yours here.   Divide your BMR by 6 and try to consume this many calories every 3-5 hours. 

Caffeine

Caffeine increases the amount of energy your body uses by stimulating the central nervous system, this increases your heart rate and breathing, resulting in an increased metabolism.   A study in the journal, Physiology & Behavior, showed that drinking caffeinated coffee increased metabolic rate by 16% compared to decaf coffee.  Energy drinks may have an even better effect on metabolism than coffee because they sometimes contain Taurine, an amino acid which can help burn fat and further boost metabolism.

Ice Water

Your body needs water to process calories, so when you’re dehydrated you can’t process them and your metabolism decreases.  If you ever feel thirsty it means you’re already dehydrated and your metabolism has already slowed down, drinking 8 glasses of water a day will guarantee this doesn’t happen.  In general, I’m a huge supporter of drinking plenty of ice-cold water every day, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.  A study at the University of Utah found that people who drank eight glasses of water a day had a higher metabolic rate than those who only drank 4.

Enjoy your post exercise boost

Intense aerobic exercise has a hangover effect on your metabolism, it can remain elevated even hours after the workout.  You really have to push yourself to achieve this though.  Engage in high-intensity exercise, the kind where you can barely think let alone talk while you’re doing it.  This sort of exercise will result in excess post exercise oxygen consumption, which will keep your metabolism at an elevated level for several hours.  Stepping up the intensity of your workout also means you’ll burn the same number of calories in less time.

Interval training is the easiest way to increase the intensity of a workout. Interval training also means you will use more oxygen and your mitochondria (the power plant of your cells) will have to work harder.  In response your body will produce more mitochondria, which will burn more calories throughout the day.  So how do you do interval training?  This can be done with any cardio workout – running, swimming, biking, and elliptical.  Start at your normal pace, after 5 minutes go flat out for 60 seconds, then go back to normal for 120 seconds and repeat.  You will not be able to workout for as long but your time will be much better spent.  As well as increasing the intensity of your workout, the bust of speed may stimulate a fat-burning response.

Try more protein

More protein = more lean muscle mass.  A pound of muscle at rest will burn around 35 calories a day.  A pound of fat will burn about 3.  Increasing the percentage of your body weight made up of muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate.   What’s a good amount of protein? Try 30 grams, about the amount in a small chicken breast, 2-3 times a day. Protein also costs more calories to digest than fat or carbs, so eating a high protein diet means you expend more calories consuming your food, increasing metabolism.  Great sources of protein include beef, turkey, fish, chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and dairy products.

Slow Strength Training

Start lifting weights so you can convert all of that protein you’re eating into muscle weigh!  If you lift slowly (count to 3 for each exercise) you will increase the breakdown of your muscle.  Repairing this muscle costs energy so it will boost your metabolism for up to 72 hours! Lifting weights for 30 minutes twice a week can increase your metabolism by 100 calories a day (though it’ll take 4-6 months to get to this point). Weight training is a great weight to prevent your metabolism from slowing down as you age due to muscle atrophy.

Miraculous Green Tea

Green tea contains ECGC, a compound that promotes fat burning.  One study found that drinking 3-5 cups a day for 12 weeks reduced body weight by an average of 4.6 percent.  Green tea also contains catechin, which may boost metabolism by improving fat oxidation and increasing the amount of energy you use to digest your food.  A study suggests that 2-4 cups of tea a day may result in a 17% increase in calories burned during exercise.

Calcium

Calcium increases your ability to metabolize fats efficiently by increasing how much fat you excrete – yeh, that kind of excretion.  Having a calcium rich snack may help compensate for a fat filled binge earlier in the day.

Choose organic produce

Organochlorieds, chemicals found in pesticides, can accumulate in fat cells and disrupt your mitochondria and thyroid.  Your thyroid is incredibly important because it acts as a thermostat by determining how fast your body runs.  Disrupting your thyroid and mitochondria will inevitably lead to an inability to function correctly and slow down your metabolism.  Eating organic foods without the pesticides will circumvent this issue.

Spice it up

Capsaicin is the active component in chili peppers that gives them their spicy quality.  When you consume chili peppers the capsaicin activates your sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing and blood flow to your skeletal muscles.  All this activity costs calories, so eating spicy foods containing capsaicin can boost your metabolism by up to 23% percent.

Iron

Iron helps your red blood cells deliver oxygen around the body, keeping you energized and your metabolism running smoothly.  An iron deficiency can result in fatigue and a lack of energy, read: slow metabolism.  So if you’re someone who struggles with anemia, or a woman (you’ll lose iron for about a week every month…) eating beans, dark leafy greens and cereals containing iron will help keep your metabolism in tip top shape.

Fish Oil

A study in the journal, Obesity Research, found that when rats ingested fish oil while exercising they lost weight.  The Omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil help balance blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, which helps to regulate metabolism. They may also play a role in resistance to a hormone called leptin that has been linked to obesity.  A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who took six grams of fish oil every day, and worked out 3 times a week, lost an average of 3.4 pounds in 12 weeks.  Participants who exercised but did not take the fish oil, did not lose any weight.  Look for daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing 1000 to 2000 milligrams.

Skip the trans fat

Trans fats have a unique shape that results in them binding to fat and liver cells which slows down your metabolism.  Consuming trans fats can also increase resistance to insulin and inflammations, which decreases metabolism and causes weight gain.  As if you needed another reason to avoid these guys…

Avoid Crash or Fad Diets

Many crash or fad diets involve consuming less than 1000 calories a day so you drop weight fast.  Most of the pounds you lose, though, are from muscle, which as we mentioned before burns far more calories than fat.  Reducing the percent of your body weight that is muscle will slow down your metabolism.  Additionally, eating so few calories will transition your body to starvation mode and you will hang onto every calorie you eat.

Transform yourself into a fat burning machine by drinking water and green tea, consuming caffeine, snacking sensibly, interval training, weight lifting, eating more protein, calcium, organic food, iron containing food, spicy food and fish oil, and finally, not participating in crash diets or eating trans fats … is that all?

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The Ultimate Guide to Cellulite: Part II How to get rid of Cellulite? Treatments and Preventions

Cellulite, Cellulite Cure, Cellulite Treatment, Cellulite Prevention, alpha-antagonists, amino acids, aminophylline, beta-agonists, cellulite cure, cellulite prevention, cellulite treatment, electrical stimulation, endermologie, ginkgo biloba, heat therapy, indian chestnut, magnetic therapy, methylxanthines, pentoxifylline, pneumatic massage, radio frequency therapy, rutin, ultrasound

The Ultimate Guide to Cellulite: Part II How to get rid of Cellulite? Treatments and Preventions

Here’s the second part to the Ultimate Guide to Cellulite, you can find Part I here.

First things first, if you’re overweight, losing weight healthily and steadily will absolutely reduce the appearance of cellulite, as will toning up the area.  However, there is no evidence to support that liposuction or losing weight actually reduces the amount of cellulite you have.  This is because this removes deep fat tissue, not the fat cells just below the skin that are causing the problem.  In fact, dramatic weight loss or liposuction may increase the appearance of cellulite because the skin will be loser.  Always lose weight slowly and healthily and pair it with reasonable exercise.  Eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising and making sure you are properly hydrated may be your best bet when trying to tackle this subcutaneous fat.

“At this point, there is no outstanding treatment for cellulite.”  However, there are several techniques that some women swear by.  Bear in mind though, none of these treatments have ever been supported by scientific literature.

Physical or Mechanical Therapies for Cellulite

There are a variety of physical or mechanical therapies including; pneumatic massage, heat therapy, ultrasound, radio frequency therapy, magnetic therapy, endermologie and electrical stimulation. Whoa.  Those sounds scary, lets go through them one by one.

Pneumatic compression massages can reduce the appearance of cellulite probably by reducing fluid in the area.  However, the effect is very short-lived.  As you’d expect, heat therapy or thermotherapy, is when you use heat to stimulate blood flow to the area – it has never been shown to reduce cellulite.  Since ultrasound uses venous stimulation to improve circulation it is used for the treatment of cellulite.  While there may be individual claims that ultrasound works, again, there is no empirical evidence to support this.  Radio frequency therapy is a relative new attempt at curing cellulite.  It uses deep and controlled heating of fatty tissues and is supposed to tighten the tissue and promote draining of fat through the lymphatic system by increasing circulation.  Many people have claimed to see a mild, temporary improvement – but again, there is no significant scientific evidence that this works.

Your blood contains iron, so when magnets are placed on the skin it draws to blood to that area.  Magnetic therapy draws on this principle and believes that the increased blood flow helps oxygenize the area and flush out toxins, thereby reducing cellulite.  This seems to be one of the least popular cellulite techniques. Endermologie is a suction massage technique using two rollers that knead the skin as it is drawn into the machine using a low-pressure vacuum.  The technique is supposed to improve the architecture of subcutaneous fat, increase lymphatic draining and circulation.  There is evidence to show that the therapy changes the structure of connective tissue, but this doesn’t seem to have a significant effect on the appearance of cellulite.  Electrical stimulation consists of applying electrodes to the skin and stimulating the underlying tissue with electrical impulses, this is supposed to increase muscle tone, flexibility of the skin and blood flow, thereby reducing the appearance of cellulite.   There have been no published studies that provide evidence to support this.

Pharmacological Therapies for Cellulite

There are also drugs on the market that claim to reduce cellulite by acting on your fatty tissues.  These include; aminophylline, methylxanthines, pentoxifylline, beta-agonists, alpha-antagonists, amino acids, ginkgo biloba, rutin, indian chestnut and aminophylline.  These drugs can be administered in a variety of different ways, normally topically, orally or by injection, lets go through them individually.

Many cellulite creams contain aminophylline, a drug normally used for the treatment of asthema.  The apparent effect of this drug on cellulite may be due to narrowing blood vessels and dehydrating the skin.  This can be dangerous, especially for people with poor circulation and is definitely not a healthy way to reduce cellulite.  It may also cause dangerous allergic reactions.  Methylxanthines are found in many cellulite creams, most notably Neutrogena Anti-Cellulite Treatment.  Methylxanthines, such as caffeine and theophylline, supposedly break down fats below the skin when applied topically.  Some studies have found a very mild reduction in cellulite when using these creams.

Pentoxifylline is a drug that is supposed to increase circulation in specific areas, so it is marketed to reduce cellulite the same way as many of the mechanical techniques.  Beta-agonists, which mimic the affect of epinephrine and norepinephrine, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and have been thought to act on fatty acids to reduce cellulite.  Conversely, alpha-antagonists, or alpha-blockers, work in the opposite way to reduce epinephrine and norepinephrine.  Many creams also include amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, the idea being that they will help build new muscle and stimulate metabolic processes that break down fat.

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China with various applications in traditional medicine.  It is advertised to increase circulation and promote metabolism of fats.  There is no evidence that it helps break down fats and even though it may improve circulation, it does not do this locally, so has no effect on cellulite. Rutin is believed to be an antioxidant and is supposed to reduce cellulite by flushing out toxins – there is no evidence of this.  Finally, Indian Chestnut is also supposed to improve circulation locally, but again, no studies have proven it to be an effective treatment for cellulite.

Compression garments may be worn to reduce the appearance of cellulite and increase blood and lymph flow to the area.  While there is no evidence that these garments actually reduce cellulite or permanently reduce the appearance, if your cellulite shows through clothing then they will definitely help to smooth out your skin underneath while you are wearing them.

Mesotherapy as a Treatment for Cellulite

Another treatment is Mesotherapy, which was originally developed to relieve the pain associated with inflammatory skin conditions.  Mesotherapy involves the subcutaneous injection of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.  The idea is this may break down the subcutaneous fat reducing the appearance of cellulite.  However, it may also cause swelling, infection and strange contours in the skin.

Lasers as a Treatment for Cellulite

Lasers are FDA approved for the treatment of cellulite, but again, there is no evidence that they work.  The theory behind using laser energy is that it can break up the fibers behind the skin so fat can smooth out.

The market for cellulite reduction treatments is over $60 million! But the best cure still seems to be to live a healthy lifestyle.  I really wish I could provide a miracle cure, but really, when is anything to do with health, exercise and physical appearance easy?  In order to prevent your cellulite from getting worse, eat healthy, low fat foods (fruits, veggies, fiber), exercise regularly, and avoid stress, dramatic fluctuations in body fat, smoking and … tight underwear!

Stay tuned for part III of the Ultimate Guide to Cellulite where I will talk about the future of cellulite treatment and prevention.

Post morning workout mango and banana smoothie

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Here’s a recipe for a delicious and very easy to make mango and banana smoothie thats a perfect pick me up after a morning workout.  You’ll need a blender, a handful of ice cubes, a ripe banana, and a handful of frozen mango cubes.  Alternatively you can use a fresh mango but since they are so messy I find it easier to use precut, frozen squares.  There are many different company’s that sell them and you can find them in the freezer section of most grocery stores.  I use organic diced mangoes by Woodstock (http://www.woodstock-foods.com/pages/productdetail.aspx?p=4256300763).  Throw all the ingredients in your blender, blend and enjoy!  

If you’re counting calories here’s a rough estimate:

Handful of mangoes: 80

1 banana: 100

1/2 cup apple juice: 60

Ice: 0

Total: ~240 calories

The relationship between sleep and weight loss, another reason to get a good nights sleep

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It has been clearly documented that sleep deprivation can result in weight gain, so a critical part of any diet is getting enough sleep.  A study of 1000 people in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that, on average, overweight people slept 16 minutes less every night.  While this seems like a small difference, think about it over a week, an average overweight person sleeps almost 2 hours less per week than a healthy person.  Similarly, a Nurses’ Health Study followed 68,183 women for 16 years (talk about dedication!), they found women who slept less than 5 hours a night were almost a third more likely to gain 30+ pounds than women who slept for at least 7 hours a night.

Another study supports this by finding that when people are only allowed to sleep for 4 hours a night they eat more than when they have had 8 hours of sleep.  The University of Colorado found that losing a few hours of sleep for just a few nights in a row caused people to gain an average of two pounds.

But why? Researchers at the University of Chicago believe that sleep deprivation may affect how we regulate appetite, leading to cravings.  Perhaps by increasing the amount of food you want to eat, but most likely by changing the type of food you crave.  So, when you haven’t slept enough you crave food with fats and carbohydrates more than when you’re well rested.  Sleep deprivation will also decrease the amount of exercise you do and lower your metabolism.  Essentially, they believe sleep deprivation is a triple threat.

Here’s the exciting part! A new study published in Nature Communications gives evidence for what the researchers at Chicago believe.  The study shows that just one night of sleep deprivation changes the way our brains view high-calorie junk food. On days after inadequate sleep, fattening foods and sweets evoke a stronger response in a part of the brain, the amygdala, that controls motivation to eat.  Essentially, when you don’t get enough sleep, junk food becomes more enticing to you.  Simultaneously, sleep deprived subjects had reduced activity in the frontal cortex, a part of the brain known to play a role in rational decision-making.  Meaning, when you don’t get enough sleep, it’s hard to make well-balanced decisions – not exactly news – but definitely something to think about when you’re trying to stick to a strict diet.

So this new study suggests that lack of sleep has a double hit on your waistline, first by increasing your desire to consume fatty foods and second by lowering your ability to avoid giving into the cravings.

How did they determine this?  They assigned healthy men and women to two different regimes separated by a week.  The first was to sleep for 8 hours and wake up to a small breakfast, then look at 80 pictures of foods and determine how badly they wanted to eat them.  The second was to stay up all night and then evaluate the same foods.  The sleep-deprived subjects exhibited a strong preference for high calorie foods when compared to the well-rested subjects.  The foods the sleep-deprived subjects chose added up to an average of 600 calories more than the rested group.

Brain scans mirrored this desire for high caloric foods by showing increased activity in the amygdala of sleep-deprived subjects when looking at fatty foods.  This was accompanied by reduced activity in the frontal lobe indicating reduced decision making ability.

But why does sleep-deprivation result in increased activity in the amygdala and reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex? One theory centers around the accumulation of adenosine.  This is a metabolic byproduct that can disrupt neural function and results in feelings of sleepiness when it builds up.  Caffeine can block adenosine, which is one of the ways it helps us feel more awake and alert.  Sleeping flushes adenosine out of your system and essentially reboots the brain.  It’s possible that without sleep, adenosine affects the neural networks in the amygdala and frontal lobe that we have been talking about.  Hopefully future research will shed more light on this theory.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Most people need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.  If you regularly feel sleepy in the afternoon or evening then you’re probably not getting enough sleep at night.  The need to nap is a good sign that you’re sleep deprived.  If you’re trying to lose weight you should really try to monitor and regulate your sleep.

Another benefit to adequate sleep is that you are more likely to exercise and burn more calories.  In turn, the exercise will help you sleep better preventing you from unnecessary food indulgences.  Beyond the realm of weight loss, proper sleep has been shown to be beneficial to every single organ in your body.  I hope you feel inspired to get good nights sleep!

A tip to lose weight without diet or exercise

The best way I have ever found to lose weight without diet or exercise is to drink at least 8 glasses of ice water a day.  Not only will you start to lose weight, you’ll also eat less and be more energized.  Here’s why drinking ice cold water is the best thing for your body:

Your body has to heat the water up to body temperature, which costs calories.  If you drink 8 8-ounce glasses of ice-cold water a day you’ll burn 70 calories.  That’s the equivalent of about 10 minutes of moderate exercise on a stationary bike or jogging half a mile.  Doctors recommend you drink 8 glasses of water a day anyway, so by simply drinking this water cold you’ll be burning 490 calories a week.  This amounts to burning off a pound of fat every 7 weeks.

Eight glasses of water will significantly suppress your appetite.  If you drink a glass of water before every meal and then another with the meal it will help you achieve a feeling of fullness so you eat less. 

Think about what you drink now instead of water.  If you substitute a glass of water for your normal drink at every meal you could be saving a lot of calories.  In one day, if you drink water instead of; orange juice at breakfast, cup of coffee with cream and sugar mid morning, soda at lunch and wine with dinner you’d save about 550 calories a day!  Amazingly, that equates to a pound of fat every week! You’d need to run 23 miles a week to achieve the same weight loss.

When you are dehydrated your metabolism slows down, drinking 8 glasses of water a day will guarantee this doesn’t happen.  Drinking plenty of water will help keep your metabolism at its optimum rate so you burn the most amount of calories.  Dehydration will also make you tired, which will make it harder to find motivation to go to the gym or to burn as many calories as you otherwise would.

Our body is complicated; sometimes when we feel hungry we are actually thirsty.  If you feel hungry, drink a glass of ice-cold water, wait 20 minutes and see if you still really want anything to eat.  This will help prevent unnecessary calorie intake.

You should also drink 8 glasses of water a day for your general health.  Our body is 60% water and every single system relies on water to function properly.  Drinking the appropriate amount of water will help flush toxins out of your vital organs, carry nutrients to your cells and provide a moist environment for your ear, nose and throat tissues.  You lose water everyday through breathing, sweating and going to the bathroom.  The institute of medicine says the average male needs to drink 3 liters, and the average woman 2.2 liters, to replenish these loses.  That equates to 101 ounces of water for men and 74 ounces for women.  So setting a goal of 8 8-ounce glasses will get you close to this.

Just a quick warning, if your body is not used to consuming this quantity of liquid it will take a while to adjust.  You may find yourself needing to go to the bathroom pretty frequently, this is normal.  After a week or two you’ll find you body adjusts and you return to your normal bathroom frequency. 

20 reasons why running is the perfect post graduation workout

It’s really easy

1. It’s free! No gym subscription, equipment costs or training fees.

2. You already know how to do it.  Put one foot in front of the other…

3. You can do it anywhere and at any time.

Fitness Benefits

4.  Compared to other cardio activities it burns far more calories – depending on your weight and size – somewhere between 705 – 865 calories per hour.  This compared to stairs (637-746), rowing (606-739), cross-country skiing (595-678) or biking (498-604).

5. Running will truly reduce your body fat percentage. The ACSM studied individuals who ran more than 50 miles per week and found they had significantly higher HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), lower triglyceride levels (body fat), and a decreased risk of coronary heart disease compared to individuals who ran less than 10 miles.

6. Running is an incredibly time efficient work out.  If you go for a 30-minute run, you are truly working out for the full 30 minutes.

7. Running is believed to be one of the most efficient fat burning exercises.  Scientists believe this may be due to the weight-bearing and pounding of running that you don’t get with exercises like cycling or swimming.

Physical Health Benefits

8. Running will strengthen your heart.  Every time your foot hits the ground your leg muscles contract forcing blood back towards your heart, making it work harder to pump it back to your leg muscles.  Like any other muscle, forcing the heart to work harder strengthens it.

9. Related to this, running has been shown to decrease your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

10. Additionally, running has been shown to lower blood pressure and boost immunity.

11. Many people believe that running can be tough on your joints, but it actually helps prevent osteoporosis by helping keep excess weight off so there is less strain on your knees.  It also increases blood and oxygen flow to your joints, which can flush out toxins and strengthen your ligaments.

12. There seems to be a correlation between how much you run and your risk of developing many types of cancers (including colon, breast, endometrial, and lung).  The British Journal of Cancer recently found that active people, those who ran or walked for 5-6 hours a week, were 24% less likely to develop colon cancer than those who only walked for 30 minutes/week.  Similarly, the National Cancer Institute claims that women with the highest levels of aerobic activity have a 30% less chance of developing breast cancer than those who do no vigorous activity.

13. Surprisingly, running has also been shown to decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

14. Who doesn’t want to live longer? Stanford University School of Medicine tracked approximately 500 runners and 500 healthy non-runners over the age of 50 for 20 years.  They all took a disability test at the beginning of the study that evaluated how easily they completed simple tasks like washing their hair, cutting meat or opening a cartoon of milk.  As the subjects aged the disability levels were significantly lower in runners than non-runners suggesting runners age much better.  The study concluded that running improved response to vaccination and improved learning thinking and memory.  Additionally, after 20 years, 85% of runners were still alive while only 66% of non-runners were…

15. Running has been shown to increase bone mass and lower inflammation. 

Mental Health Benefits

16. Running can also be incredibly beneficial to your mental health.  In fact, it is common for mental health experts to prescribe running to treat depression and drug and alcohol addiction. 

17. Stress Relief!!!

Other bonuses 

18. Guilt free me time! Running is a great way to get away from it all and enjoy your own company. 

19. Self Defense – if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation it’s always good to be able to get away from it as fast as possible!

20. Running can be a great way to discover places.  Since you are on foot and not rushing to get anywhere is particular you may discover things you’d otherwise drive right by.

Busting the negative calorie myth

14 low calorie snacks, negative calorie foods, low calorie foods, diet snacks

I find that more often than not when I snack between meals it is for some other reason than being hungry.  Normally it’s because I’m bored.  Sometimes because I’m sad, other times because I’m anxious… Regardless of the reason, I’m consuming calories that my body doesn’t need! Generally I also go for things like potato chips or candy bars from a vending machine and that just makes the situation worse.  Instead of torturing yourself by cutting out snacking all together, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just eat certain foods with ‘negative calories’.  Negative calorie diets claim that there are a group of food that require more calories to process and digest than they contain.  So for example, if a food item contains 10 calories but the body uses 20 calories to digest it, you are actually burning 10 calories.  Unfortunately, the only negative calorie ‘food’ is cold water.  This is because the water itself has no calories and your body has to expend energy to heat the water up to body temperature.  On a side note – drinking several glasses of ice water a day is an excellent supplement to any diet, not only does it burn a hand full of calories, it will also make you feel more full – but more on that later! So lets get back to negative calorie foods, if I get a bit sciencey here, bear with me;

The negative calorie food idea is based on the principle of the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF = amount of energy your body expends digesting, absorbing and distributing the food.  This includes calories ‘burned’ while; chewing, swallowing or enzymatically breaking down the food, absorbing the nutrients across the walls of you intestine etc. etc.  This may seem like a lot of work for your body, but its really not, we’re very efficient.  According to (http://www.caloriesperhour.com/tutorial_thermic.php) and other sources, food generally costs about 10% of its caloric value to process, with proteins being the most costly to process and fats being the easiest.

So for a food to have ‘negative calories’ it must have TEF > the amount of calories it contains.  Unfortunately the only snack that fits this criteria is… once again, cold water.  That doesn’t mean, however, that low calorie foods like citrus fruits and celery don’t come close to being ‘zero calorie’ foods.  Read; eating an orange is going to have a pretty negligible effect on your total calorie input.  Another issue with these ‘negative calorie’ foods is that you’re never going to eat them without something else to go with them.  Who just sits there nibbling on watercress? That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 14 low calorie foods that are suitable for snacking on.  Since their caloric input is negligible you can satisfy your desire to nibble on something without ruining your diet.  Additionally, a lot of these foods contain nutrients that are actually good for you, go figure! Enjoy snacking!

Ps. Shout out to lettuce, not exactly an ideal snack food, but low calorie nonetheless.