#261 Rev Up Your Metabolism

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Eating healthy doesn't take any more time.
It's just choosing better.

Michael Kirkbride

8 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

By Joe Wilkes

Good FoodIf you spend any time perusing the fashion mags and tabloid rags in the supermarket checkout line, you'll see a wide array of articles claiming to have discovered the latest "miracle food" that will burn off the pounds while you sit on your butt and eat. Well, sadly, the news isn't quite that good. Without regular exercise, a decent night's sleep, and a thought-out meal plan, your metabolic rate is going to be dragging. However, there are some things you can eat that will move the needle favorably into the fat-burning zone. And most of these foods are delicious and nutritious anyway, so why not? Here are eight of the best ones.

  1. FishFish. Most of us have read about the benefits of fish oil, which is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Found in many common oily fish like mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, tuna, and salmon, it can also be taken in capsules (at least 300 mg/day) by those who are averse to seafood. Fish consumption has been found to boost your calorie burn by as much as 400 calories a day. Fish is also full of great, low-fat, muscle-building protein (which requires your body to burn more calories to digest). And now's a great time to get fishy, as fresh wild-caught salmon is in season.

  2. Dark GreensDark green leafy vegetables. These include arugula, chard, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, and spinach. They are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and lots of fiber. While the vitamins are great antioxidants and very healthy for you, the fiber is where the rubber really meets the road as far as metabolism goes. Your body expends a lot more calories digesting fiber and protein than it does simply digesting carbohydrates. This is called the thermic effect—the amount of calories required to digest the food can sometimes be almost as much as the number of calories in the food itself. Dark leafies also contain many B vitamins, which are necessary to produce the enzymes for metabolism. Most other vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories and can boost your burn, but the cream of the crop, nutritionally speaking, are the dark green leafy vegetables. So listen to Popeye, and eat your spinach!

  3. TomatoesTomatoes. Tomatoes have gotten a lot of good press lately, as they contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been proven to have several anti-carcinogenic properties. And like the dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes are also a good source of fiber. But tomatoes can also work overtime to flush fat, as they also contain citric, malic, and oxalic acids, which support your body's kidney functions, which helps your body eliminate more waste and fat from your system.

  4. BlueberriesBlueberries and other whole fruits. Whole fruits contain lots of fiber, and many contain so much, they can be said to have "negative calories," meaning your body burns more calories digesting the food than it stores. One cup of blueberries only has about 80 calories, but 4 grams of fiber. Your body will expend much of those 80 calories digesting the 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries also contain lots of antioxidants, and are believed to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. And they taste great! Try adding them to a high-fiber unsweetened cereal or oatmeal in the morning to get your metabolism up and running at the start of your day.

  5. Whole GrainsWhole grains. Well, if you've read this far, you've probably gotten that fiber is key to keeping the metabolic fires burning. Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. This is where careful label reading comes in. Lots of items purporting to contain whole grains may only contain enough to make the claim truthful, and may in fact be full of insulin-spiking carbohydrates or sugars, which will take your metabolism in the wrong direction. Check the ingredient list of your breads and cereals carefully and make sure the preponderance of the ingredients is whole grain.

  6. SpicesChilies, curries, and other spices. Ever eaten a particularly spicy meal and felt your heart race a bit faster and your forehead start to perspire? The capsaicin found in many hot peppers and other spices can fire up your metabolism while it fires up your mouth. In fact, some studies have shown a 50 percent increase in metabolism for three hours after eating capsaicin. So it helps to keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand at mealtimes. You can use spices to add flavor to recipes instead of salty or fatty ingredients, which will also help kick your metabolism into a higher gear.

  7. Green TeaGreen tea. Researchers have found that green tea consumption can increase calorie burning by up to four percent. It is believed to accomplish this by increasing metabolic rates as well as fat oxidation. Studies have also shown that green tea can reduce sugar cravings and can inhibit enzymes which slow digestion, thus raising metabolic rates. Its thermogenetic properties were convincing enough that Beachbody includes it in its ActiVit® Fat-Burning Formula. Besides the metabolic properties, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, making it one of the most healthful beverage choices around.

  8. Iced WaterIce water. Almost every nutritionist will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, but did you know that if you drink iced water versus room-temperature water, your body will burn an extra nine calories per glass? Drinking room-temperature water can burn about 16 calories per glass—that's 25 calories per glass for iced water. So, eight glasses of cool water a day can be responsible for burning 200 calories! Plus, water is necessary for all of your bodily processes, including the ones that control your metabolism. If you're underhydrated, your body will underperform. Water also flushes out fat deposits and toxins, which can hamper your energy. Read this for additional reasons to drink water.

Turbo JamClick here for some more tips on speeding up your metabolism. And remember, a good night's sleep and smaller, evenly spaced meals can be your best metabolic friends. And the best thing to really get your metabolism going is exercise. You can burn almost 700 calories in one 45-minute Turbo Jam® workout alone. Also, stress has been found to produce cortisol, a metabolism-inhibiting steroid, so try and relax—have a blueberry. Or a fish!

Joe Wilkes If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


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Turmeric: The Spice of Life?

By Kathy Smith, creator of Project: YOU™

TurmericI love to cook. I make it a habit to collect and trade great recipes with my friends and family members. When I'm cooking, I just have three requirements—convenient, scrumptious, and healthy. I use a lot of different spices. They not only provide flavor, they also have wonderful health-giving qualities. So I have been really interested in what scientists are finding out about a simple, yet exotic spice that gives curry its intense yellow color—turmeric.

Disease-fighting properties

Turmeric is gaining a reputation as a powerhouse plant, and it's no surprise. The World Health Organization reported on a study from UCLA that found that turmeric could prevent Alzheimer's disease. Studies on Indian villages, where curried food is a staple, found that less than one percent of people over 65 had Alzheimer's. Turmeric contains a phytochemical, curcumin, which can prevent and slow, even reverse, the build up of neural plaque in our brains, which is a cause of Alzheimer's disease.

BrainThat's exciting news because Alzheimer's affects millions of people worldwide. In the United States alone, more than four million Americans have Alzheimer's, and over the next few years, an estimated 78 million baby boomers will become seniors.

Turmeric has long been used by Ayurveda (a holistic medical system from India) and other traditional medical practices to treat many health problems. Researchers are finding that turmeric has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties and may help manage heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels and other disease risk factors. With turmeric readily available, and the enormous upside health benefit potential, it may well be worth your while to introduce more turmeric into your diet.

Dietary sources

MustardThat squeeze bottle of bright yellow mustard or that jar of Piccalilli or Chow-Chow Relish at the back of the refrigerator—they all contain turmeric. Of course, you'd have to eat a lot of turmeric to get medicinal benefits. Supplements are a more practical way to get optimal levels for most people. A standardized formula providing 400 to 600 mg of curcumin taken three times daily is typically recommended.

SalmonOne of my favorite ways to get a delicious serving of turmeric and omega fatty acids at the same time is a recipe I got from my cousin. Coat an 8-ounce salmon fillet with turmeric, wrap it in clear plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge for several hours. Then drizzle a little olive oil on it and grill it for a few minutes on each side. The salmon will have a bright golden crust and a subtle dill flavor, which I love. It's scrumptious and less than one gram of carbs per serving. Click here for foods that can fight against other age-related diseases, like Alzheimer's.

If you prefer to eat out, now you have a perfect reason to go to your favorite Indian restaurant. The next time you order curry, pat yourself on the back.

Kathy Smith If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Spice IQ!

By Joe Wilkes
  1. Five SpicesWhat are the five spices in Chinese five-spice powder? The five spices are equal parts ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. Due to the popularity of Chinese cuisine, this mixture is now available premixed in most North American supermarkets.

  2. What is the Greek word for spice? The Greek word for spice is "aroma."

  3. CilantroWhat are the leaves of the coriander plant called? Cilantro. The Coriandrum sativum plant is native to southern Asia and northern Africa. The seeds are often ground into Indian curries and other dishes, while the leaves are often used in Mexican and Thai cuisine. Cilantro is also often referred to as Chinese parsley.

  4. What is the world's most expensive spice? Saffron. It comes from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. It gives many Spanish, Portuguese, and North African dishes a beautiful golden hue. But like real gold, saffron is costly. Up to $5,000 a pound, in fact. Fortunately, it is so flavorful, only a couple of hair-like strands are needed to flavor and color a dish.

  5. PaprikaWhat is the national spice of Hungary? Paprika. It's most commonly made by grinding sweet red bell peppers, though it is also made with hotter varieties. A popular variation is smoked paprika. It is the only spice that is traded more as its ground version than its whole version.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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