Eat for Energy

Photo Credit: Kander PD

Would you be surprised if someone told you to eat to lose weight? Your metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy. Your metabolic rate is the rate at which your body turns food into fuel. The metabolic rate is different for each person and generally slows down as you age. This is why some people get what is called “middle age spread” around the abdomen or hips. When the metabolic rate slows, but caloric intake does not decrease, you can gain weight. Depriving yourself of food is not the answer to maintaining a healthy weight. Your body needs food for energy and will slow your metabolic rate in response to a lack of energy. Starvation diets are not only dangerous, but counter-productive since the body responds to deprivation by slowing down metabolism. To maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight, keep your metabolic rate at peak efficiency by eating more often. 
When you eat food, your body responds by releasing hormones and enzymes that convert food to energy that can be used by your cells. If you wait too long between meals, the metabolism slows down. Skipping breakfast or lunch and then eating a large evening meal may cause your body to store more food as fat in order to compensate for the lack of food earlier in the day. Your body stores up fat for energy use. The problem is the body is storing more fat than you are using for energy. In order to avoid this cycle of starvation and weight gain and keep your metabolism functioning at peak efficiency, eat several small, high-fiber meals everyday. 
Eat a healthy, high-fiber breakfast, followed by a mid-morning snack. Fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt and whole grain crackers are ideal choices. Don’t forget to eat lunch, and then enjoy a late-afternoon snack. Dinner should include foods from all the food groups. At least 1/2 of your plate should be filled with vegetables, fruits and grains. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help your body digest food and remain hydrated. Green tea may also help to increase your metabolism because it contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may help boost your body’s fuel burning power. 

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