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Five ways to boost your metabolism

  • Story Highlights
  • Working out with weights will raise your metabolism
  • Practicing portion control helps to keep you from overloading on unusable energy
  • Study: Metabolic rates of people watching funny videos rose by 10 to 40 calories
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By Scott Westcott
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Cooking Light

"Metabolism" is the name of the bodily system that converts food calories to energy needed to perform various tasks, like pumping oxygen to muscles during a long walk. Many variables contribute to your metabolism, including heredity, gender and age. But you can quicken yours; here's how.

Your metabolism quickens as you exercise and for hours afterward.

Your metabolism quickens as you exercise and for hours afterward.

Exercise more. When you walk, run, or lift weights, you increase the energy required of your body, which raises your metabolism then, and for hours afterward.

"It's not a huge spike, but it makes a difference," says Gary Miller, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Work out with weights. During weight training, muscle tissue is stressed; afterward, it's repaired -- which raises metabolism.

A woman who strength trains three times a week for six months can build enough muscle to burn 10 to 32 extra calories a day, according to Robert Wolfe, PhD, professor of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas. CookingLight.com: Ultimate move finder

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Practice portion control. This helps ensure you don't overload your metabolism with a surplus of unusable energy (that is, food).

Use a food scale or measuring cups to identify proper portions. Or use your hand as a guide. A fist equals a serving of fruit, a cupped hand equals a serving of cereal or grains, two cupped handfuls equal a serving of leafy green vegetables and an open palm equals a serving of meat. CookingLight.com: Exceptional recipes

Eat smaller meals more often. Some experts recommend eating smaller meals throughout the day, known as grazing. "Grazing helps normalize blood sugar levels rather than producing three large spikes, which is what happens eating three meals a day," says Nick Flynn, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

Determine the amount of calories you need at Mypyramid.gov. Then keep that number in mind as you transition from eating three ordinary-sized meals to five smaller ones. CookingLight.com: We compare similar foods so you can decide which to eat

Laugh it off. When researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, put people into a "metabolic chamber" (a small room that measures heat output in order to calculate a person's metabolic rate) and showed them funny videos, the subjects' metabolic rates rose by 10 to 40 calories. It's a small increase, but every calorie counts for those seeking weight loss, says lead researcher Maciej Buchowksi, PhD.

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Copyright 2009 Cooking Light magazine. All rights reserved.

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