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10 Diet Mistakes Seriously Slowing Your Metabolism

April 24, 2015 4 min read

As we age, our metabolism starts to slow. The average woman gains 1½ pounds a year during her adult life. That is enough to pack on 40-plus pounds by her 50s, if she doesn't combat the roller coaster of hormones, muscle loss, and stress that conspire to slow her fat-burning engine. It doesn't have to be this way though. Here are the basics: to boost over 40 weight loss, make sure your meals are around 400 calories which is the amount your body needs to fuel it and keep it satisfied. The following metabolism-boosting food rules were developed by Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition and kinesiology at Georgia State University, and Tammy Lakatos, RD. Without any more delay, here are the ways you can shift your diet to help your body burn fat.

Mistake: You don't eat enough

Yes, you need to cut calories to lose weight but there is a limit. Going too low is really horrible for your metabolism. When you eat less than you need for basic biological functioning, (about 1,200 calories for most women), your body halts your metabolism. It also breaks down calorie burning muscle tissue for the energy it needs. Benardot says, "Eat just enough so you're not hungry—a healthy snack midmorning and midafternoon between three meals (about 430 calories each) will keep your metabolism humming." Eat a meal every 3-4 hours to stay satisfied and it will prevent you from overeating later in the day.

Mistake: You avoid caffeine

coffee Coffee drinkers, rejoice! Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant so your daily coffee boost your metabolism 5  to 8%—about 98 to 174 calories a day. One Japanese study found that a cup of brewed tea can raise your metabolism by 12 %. It is believed that the antioxidant catechins in tea provide are what causes this boost.

Mistake: Your carbs are white

Boost your fiber intake by switching to whole grain bread and pasta and eat more fruits and vegetables. The research has shown that eating more fiber can boost your metabolism by as much as 30 percent. Women who eat the most fiber, gain the least amount of weight over time. Try to get about 25 grams a day which is about 3 servings each of fruits and vegetables.

Mistake: Your water is room temperature

6 Things that make water unhealthy Researchers in Germany found that drinking 6 cups of cold water a day (48 ounces of water), can raise your metabolism by 50 calories a day. That's enough to lose 5 pounds in a year. This increase in energy likely comes from the extra energy it takes for your body to warm the water to room temperature.

Mistake: Your food is covered with pesticides

Canadian researchers report that dieters with the most organochlorines (pollutants from pesticides, which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lose weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. There is other research that suggests pesticides can trigger weight gain. Always choose organic when buying things like peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, and pears. These items tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.

Mistake: Your meal lacks protein

Include protein with every meal. You body requires protein to maintain lean muscle. Protein can help increase post meal calorie burn by as much as 35%.  Add a serving, like 3 ounces of lean meat, 2 tablespoons of nuts, or 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, to every meal and snack.

Mistake: Your diet needs to pump iron

According to Lakatos, iron rich foods are essential for carrying oxygen your muscles need to burn fat. Women (when not menopausal) lose iron during their period every month so unless you restore this, you run the risk of low energy and a slow metabolism. Shellfish, lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach are excellent sources or iron.

Mistake: You're missing vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for maintenance of metabolism revving muscle tissue.  Unfortunately, it appears that only 4% of Americans over 50 get enough through their diet. Get 90% of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of salmon. Other good sources: tuna, shrimp, tofu, fortified milk and cereal, and eggs.

Mistake: You've had one drink too many

2012-01-14-RUP-2012-cocktail-trends-586x322 Take a pass on that second drink. When you drink alcohol, you burn less fat, and you do so more slowly than usual, because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. If you were to drink the equivalent of 2 martinis, you can slow your body's fat burning ability by 73%.

Mistake: You're not getting enough dairy

"There's some evidence that calcium deficiency, which is common in many women, may slow metabolism," says Lakatos. Eating calcium through dairy foods such as fat-free milk and low-fat yogurt can reduce fat absorption from other foods. Here is an example of how you can work all of this into your day: Bonus: Here's a sample calorie-burning day plan: 7 AM: Kick-start your day with yogurt and fruit for breakfast. 10 AM: Your morning java is full of antioxidants. 12 PM: A salad at lunch gives you a healthy dose of fiber. 2 PM: Drink a big glass of water. You need at least 6 to 8 cups a day. 4 PM: Organic grapes make a great snack. 7 PM: Salmon fillets or chicken breasts packs in the protein for dinner. 10 PM: Milk does a body good. Have a glass before bed. 11 PM: Sweet dreams! vest_v2_1_1024x1024  

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