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If you haven’t yet tried the pushup and row, it’s time you got down on the floor and gave it a shot. After all, it’s one of the most effective and efficient exercises you can do. That’s because this single move works your chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and abs. So it might be the ultimate upper body exercise. Ready to try it? Watch this video demonstration of the pushup and row. Tip: The secret to doing this exercise right is to keep your torso still as you row the weight. So don’t allow your body to rotate in either direction, and keep your core stiff so that your hips don’t sag.
Perform this routine as a circuit, says its creator, Martin Rooney, P.T., C.S.C.S., author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts. Do 10 reps of each exercise, and complete as many circuits as you can in 15 minutes. Rest briefly when you need to, and resume working until the time is up. As your conditioning improves, increase reps or decrease the amount of rest.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, and slowly stand back up.
Begin in a pushup position but move your feet hip-width apart and forward, and raise your hips so your body almost forms an upside-down V. Lower the front of your body until your chin nears the floor. Then lower your hips as you raise your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Now reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides, keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees. As you sit up, twist your upper body to the left and bring your left knee toward your right elbow while you swing your left arm back. Lower your body to the starting position, and repeat to your right. That’s 1 rep.
It is widely believed that teens may be influenced by the depiction of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs on television. Studies have shown higher rates of television viewing among teens to be positively associated with increased tobacco usage, increased alcohol intake and younger onset of sexual activity.
Last month the PTC identified Skins as perhaps the most dangerous show on television for young viewers for exactly that reason. Skins routinely depicts teenagers using illegal narcotics, abusing prescription drugs, consuming alcohol and suffering absolutely no negative consequences or lasting effects. In fact, in just five episodes, there have been 150 references to or depictions of drug or alcohol use.
Parents or other responsible adults are virtually non-existent in the world of Skins, or serve only as enablers: an incompetent therapist who prescribes more and more drugs to a deeply troubled teenage girl, a mother who serves margaritas to children, a mothers boyfriend who shares in the drug use and then tries to seduce an underage girl.
If you agree that such irresponsible treatments of drug and alcohol use are unacceptable on a youth-targeted program, sign our petition demanding MTV and Viacom immediately refrain from further portrayal of teen drug and alcohol abuse in such a positive, provocative or enticing manner by clicking here.
Use this variation of the row to strengthen your entire body
We love two-in-one exercises. After all, the best combo moves give you twice the benefit for the same effort. Case in point: the split stance dumbbell row. This exercise not only trains your middle and upper back—as a classic dumbbell row does—it also helps shore up weaknesses in your hips. That’s because the muscles of your hips have to work over time to keep your body stable as you lift the weight. Trust us, you’ll really start to feel this effect in the hip of your front leg as you hit rep number six or seven. And that’s no small thing: The stronger and more stable your hips, the stronger and more athletic your entire body will be. Ready to try it? Watch this video demonstration of the split stance dumbbell row.
By: Jeff Csatari
Happy Birthday Boy Scouts!
The Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Since 1910, more than 83 million American boys have worn the khaki, recited the Scout Oath, learned to “Be Prepared,” and scoured the countryside searching in vain for left-handed smoke shifters.
Taut-line hitches and square knots?
If not, here’s a refresher: how to eat a pine tree and do other neat stuff you learned in the Boy Scouts, then forgot as soon as you noticed girls.
Vintage Scout photos and illustrations courtesy of the Boy Scouts of America
Start a Fire with a Flashlight
No matches? No Bic? If you have a fresh flashlight battery and some very fine steel wool, you’re in business. Roll the wool between your hands into a cigarette shape. Then pull the ends apart gently so there is only a fine mesh of steel wool in the center. Now touch one end to the battery’s top, the other to the battery’s bottom. The current will make the wool in the center spark and burn. Touch some tinder to it and you’re cookin’.
Sharpen a Knife
A sharp knife is a safer knife, since a dull knife is more likely to slip off what you’re cutting and cut you. To hone a keen edge, first get yourself an Arkansas whetstone (it’s the best). Coat the top of the stone with some vegetable oil. The oil picks up the steel filings and floats them away as you sharpen. Lay the blade on the stone so its back edge is tilted about one-third of an inch above the stone. Stroke forward lightly but firmly, in an arc, as if slicing into the stone. Then turn the blade over and draw it toward you the same way. Repeat until you can easily slice a piece of paper.
Hide from Bugs
When the mosquitoes are dining, switch to light-colored clothing. Wearing dark colors, especially navy blue and black, is like ringing the dinner bell. To repel no-see-ums, try applying Avon’s “Skin-So-Soft,” a moisturizing lotion that for unknown reasons keeps the little devils away. It’s a lot more pleasant to wear than those greasy deet-based repellents.
Avoid Being Struck by Lightning
If you’re caught out in an electrical storm and you feel your hair standing on end, immediately squat down low and draw your legs to your chest so that only the balls of your feet are touching the ground. Lightning usually strikes the highest objects in its path, so low spots are safer places.
Make KP a Breeze
Rub a bar of soap or liquid detergent on the bottoms and sides of pots and pans before putting them on the fire. The soot will be easier to wash off.
To turn a pancake over in the air with a flourish, sweep the frying pan forward, up and around in a smooth looping-the-loop motion.
Avoid Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac
Remember this mnemonic: “Leaflets three, let it be; berries white, poisonous sight.” And stay away from anything that matches that description.
Make a Solar Still for Water
You can get about a quart of water a day by this method. Dig a cone-shaped hole about 3 feet deep and 3 feet in diameter and line it with fresh-cut green plants. Place a cup in the bottom of the hole and cover the hole with a sheet of plastic. Secure the plastic with rocks placed around its edges and put a small stone in the center of the plastic to create a valley above the cup. When the sun warms the still, plant moisture will condense on the plastic and drip into the cup.
Fillet a Fish
This technique works best for trout, bass, bluefish, flounder, and panfish.
First, sharpen your fillet knife. You’ll mangle the meat if it’s dull.
1. Place the fish on its side and your hand firmly on its head.
2. Make an angled cut just behind the gill cover down to, but not severing, the backbone.
3. Turn the knife blade flat and push it along the backbone toward the tail without cutting the rib cage. Pull the meat back and cut the rest away from the rib cage. You’ll be slicing through the stomach skin to free the fillet. Then, fillet the other side of the fish.
4. Skinning: Lay the fillet skin-side down on a board. Hold the tail down with your hand. Starting at that end, work the knife between skin and meat using a slicing motion.
Build a Fire with One Match
The key to building any fire is to start small and let it “breathe.”
1. Make a ball of tinder (brown pine needles, dry grasses and white birch bark, which contains an oil that helps it burn even when wet).
2. Lean about six pencil-sized sticks on the tinder in teepee fashion.
3. Light the base of the tinder. As the flames rise, add more pencil-sized sticks one at a time so you won’t smother the fire. Blowing at the base of the tinder helps. Add larger sticks as the fire grows stronger.
Stay Warm in a Sleeping Bag
Common sense might lead you to believe that bundling up with every piece of warm clothing you have will keep you warm in your sleeping bag. But you would be better off stripping to the skin or wearing only long underwear. That will give your body heat a chance to warm the air inside your sleeping bag, which will keep you comfortable. In the morning, change out of whatever you slept in. Those clothes will be damp from perspiration and will chill you as soon as you step outside.
Remove a Fishhook from a Finger
If you or someone else is snagged by a fishhook, get to a doctor for removal. If you are in the backcountry and can’t reach medical help, here’s what to do:
Snip the line off the hook. If the barb is embedded, push the hook farther in until the barb comes through the skin. Snip off the barb with pliers or nail clippers. Work the hook shank back out through the point of entry.
Wash and bandage the wound.
Cook a Caveman Steak Without Utensils
Flatten a bed of hot coals with a stick. Then place a steak directly on the coals. Turn after three to five minutes. Wait another five minutes, then brush off the ashes and dine. Mmmm.
Bake Bread on a Leaf
Mold some biscuit dough into the shape of a potato. Wrap the dough in two large, green leaves. Push aside the coals and place the bundle on the hot ground. Cover with hot ashes and bake for about 10 minutes. Test with a stick.
Roast Corn Without Utensils
Peel down the husks just enough to remove the silk, then close up the husks again. Soak the corn in water, then place it directly on hot coals. Roast for about seven minutes per side.
Keep from Drowning
You’re in the middle of a lake, the boat sinks and you don’t have a life preserver. No problem. Make one out of your trousers. While treading water, slip off your pants and tie a knot in the end of each leg. Hold the waist of the pants in one hand under water. Inflate them by cupping air in your other hand, pushing it under water and releasing it into the pants. When the pants are inflated, hold the waist closed and lean across the crotch.
Sing to Bears
When hiking in bear country, yodel, talk loudly, or sing. Making noise allows the animal to move away before you get there.
If a black bear enters your camp, bang on a pot to scare it away.
If a black bear noses you awake at night, don’t make any sudden moves, but don’t play dead, either. Talk to the bear in a calm, deep voice to let it know you are not a road kill.
If you encounter a grizzly bear, stay calm and try to back away slowly while speaking to the bear. Never turn your back. And never run. You won’t win the race.
If a grizzly charges, stand your ground. They often make mock charges. Climb a tree only if you can climb at least 10 feet before the bear reaches you. As a last resort, curl into a ball, covering your neck and head with your arms. Leave your backpack on for protection. Many people have survived bear attacks this way.
Tie a Square Knot
Good for tying cord around a package or bundle of newspapers, and also for tying first-aid bandages. Hold a rope end in each hand. Twist the left-hand rope end over, behind and under the right-hand rope. Then twist the same end as before over, behind and under the other rope end. Pull tight. Remember, “left over right and under, right over left and under.”
Tie a Double Half-Hitch Knot
An easy knot for tying up a boat to a pole or tying a clothesline between two trees. Pass the end of the rope around the pole. Bring the end over the rope, under and through the loop you just formed. That’s a half hitch. Then do the same in front of the first half hitch you created.
Tie a Taut-Line Hitch Knot
This knot is tied on a line that is tight, such as a tent guy line. It’s also good for tying down luggage on top of a car, because it won’t slip as long as the rope is tight. Pass the rope around a tent stake or roof rack. Bring the end under and over the tight line and twice through the loop you just made. Then, again, bring the end of the rope under, over and through the new loop you formed, and tighten the hitch. You can tighten or loosen the line by pushing the hitch up and down the line.
Tie a Bowline Knot
An important mountain-climbing knot that’s also useful for lowering someone from a burning building. It forms a loop that won’t slip under strain. Make an overhand loop in the rope about 20 inches from its end. Push the end of the rope up through the loop, around the standing part of the rope and back down through the loop. Then tighten. Practice while chanting this famous Scout saying: “The rabbit comes out of the hole, hops around the tree and goes back down the hole.”
Eat Like a Bear I
If you ever get lost in the woods, rescuers will probably find you before the buzzards do. Still, it’s wise to know what you can—and can’t—eat out there. No good Scout would dream of eating anything he couldn’t positively identify, and neither should you. Before you try any of the ideas below, remember these rules of foraging:
1. Go by the description, not just the name. While you’d call that cone-bearing tree a pine, how do you know it’s not a hemlock? To be sure, consult an edible-plants guidebook, such as Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide, by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman, or A Field Guide to Eastern Edible Wild Plants, by Lee A. Peterson.
2. Eat only the safe part of the plant. In some cases, the seeds may be fine while the leaves are toxic, and vice versa.
3. Test first. Eat a small amount (about one teaspoon) of any plant you’re considering for dinner. Wait about three to four hours. If you’re feeling fine, go ahead and harvest a meal-sized portion.
Now that you know the rules, here are some plants to try:
Eat Like a Bear II
Greens: Watercress is ideal for a salad. But don’t bypass dandelion, young goldenrod, black mustard or chicory leaves. By summertime, some greens turn bitter. Boiling them will help cut the bitterness. Also, clip the new shoots off the common milkweed plant and boil them until they are tender. Eat them as you would eat asparagus.
Cattail on the cob: Boil the young green flower spikes of cattail plants and eat them like corn on the cob. The white parts of the stalk can be eaten raw or cooked. Also, the thick root of this plant can be roasted.
Sumac punch: Cut the red flower clusters off a staghorn sumac plant (shown at left) and soak them in a cup of cold water. Add a little sugar, and you have a drink that looks and tastes like pink lemonade, if you use your imagination.
Pine-needle tea: Chop up a handful of lodgepole pine needles and steep in some hot water for a fragrant tea. Also, you can eat the inner white bark of certain pine trees, such as lodgepole and Scotch pine, raw or boiled. Strip the brown bark from the tree and scrape out the inner white pithy bark. Some pine seeds can be eaten, too. Pinon pine nuts are especially good.
Find North Without a Compass
With a stick: Press a stick into the ground and angle it directly toward the sun so it doesn’t cast a shadow. After a while, the sun will create a shadow of the stick that will point toward the east. Drawing a perpendicular line across the shadow will give you north and south.
With a watch: Holding an analog watch flat, place a twig upright against the dial at the point of the hour hand. Now turn the watch until the twig’s shadow covers the hour hand. A line halfway between the hour hand and 12 points south.
By the North Star: Search the night sky for the Big Dipper, then locate the two stars farthest from the dipper’s handle. An imaginary line through them points almost straight at Polaris, the North Star, which is not as bright as you’d expect with a name like that, but pretty easy to find nonetheless. Polaris is also the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
Forecast the Weather
Here are some old sayings that’ll help you read the sky for signs of fair or foul weather:
“Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.” Dry, dusty air often creates a glow at sunset.
“Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.” Dry air is being pushed east by moist air coming from the west.
“If smoke goes high, no rain comes by.” High air pressure, a fair-weather sign, allows smoke to go straight up.
“If smoke hangs low, watch out for a blow.” Low air pressure will keep smoke from rising very high.
“Mackerel scales and mares’ tails make lofty ships carry low sails.” Cloud formations that look like fish scales and wispy tails warn of a change in the weather.
Dry Your Wet Boots
Never put your boots close to a campfire to dry them. The heat can crack the leather or melt synthetic uppers and rubber soles. Instead, speed drying by stuffing the boots with small, fire-warmed rocks placed inside socks.
Tighten a Loose Ax Head
If your ax handle is made of wood, soak the head in a bucket of water for a few hours. The wood will swell and tighten the ax head temporarily. For a more permanent remedy, drive a wedge into the wood in the ax head.
What did you learn in the Scouts? Share your favorite tip or memories!
By: Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S.
Perform the following routine prior to every upper body workout. The movements will activate the muscles in your shoulders, back, chest, and arms, which helps you lift more weight and prevent injury. The exercises should take no more than 10 minutes.
Complete one set of 5 to 10 reps of each pushup version listed below. After each set rest 10 to 20 seconds and then continue on to the next exercise. Use the higher number of reps if you’ve been resistance training for more at least 1 to 2 years.
How to do it: This circuit uses variations of the standard pushup. For each movement, assume a pushup position (with your body in a straight line from ankles to shoulders), and then lower your chest to the floor. Press your body back to the starting position by straightening your arms.
Assume a pushup position with your hands set just wider than shoulder-width. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, then push yourself back up to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Do a pushup with your hands close enough for the tips of your thumbs and index fingers to touch, forming a diamond shape.
Place your hands about twice shoulder-width apart.
Place one hand in standard pushup position and your other hand a few inches farther forward.
After you lower your body, press yourself up so forcefully that your hands leave the floor.
After completing the pushups, perform the following two exercises designed to improve range of motion in your shoulders and protect your joints before lifting heavier weights.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise and External Rotation
1-2 sets of 15 reps
Grab a light pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm’s length with your palms turned toward each other. Bend your elbows 90 degrees. Without changing the bend in your arms, raise your upper arms out to the sides until they’re parallel to the floor. Rotate your upper arms up and back so that your forearms are pointing toward the ceiling. Pause, then reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
Cable Diagonal Raise
1-2 sets of 15 reps per arm
Attach a stirrup handle to the low pulley of a cable station. Standing with your right side toward the weight stack, grab the handle with your left hand and position it in front of your rip hip, with your elbow slightly bent. Without changing the bend in your elbow, pull the handle up and across your body until your hand is above your head. Lower the handle to the starting position. Complete all repetitions with your left arm, then immediately do the same with your right arm.
By: Carolyn Kylstra
Some foods just aren’t taken seriously.
Consider celery, for example—forever the garnish, never the main meal. You might even downgrade it to bar fare, since the only stalks most guys eat are served alongside hot wings or immersed in Bloody Marys.
All of which is a shame, really. Besides being a perfect vehicle for peanut butter, this vegetable contains bone-beneficial silicon and cancer-fighting phenolic acids. And those aren’t even what makes celery so good for you.
You see, celery is just one of six underappreciated and undereaten foods that can instantly improve your diet. Make a place for them on your plate, and you’ll gain a new respect for the health benefits they bestow—from lowering blood pressure to fighting belly fat. And the best part? You’ll discover just how delicious health food can be.
CeleryThis water-loaded vegetable has a rep for being all crunch and no nutrition. But ditch that mindset: Celery contains stealth nutrients that heal.
Why it’s healthy: “My patients who eat four sticks of celery a day have seen modest reductions in their blood pressure—about 6 points systolic and 3 points diastolic,” says Mark Houston, M. D., director of the Hypertension Institute at St. Thomas Hospital, in Nashville. It’s possible that phytochemicals in celery, called phthalides, are responsible for this health boon. These compounds relax muscle tissue in artery walls and increase bloodflow, according to nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph. D., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. And beyond the benefits to your BP, celery also fills you up—with hardly any calories.
How to eat it: Try this low-carbohydrate, protein-packed recipe for a perfect snack any time of day.
In a bowl, mix a 4.5-ounce can of low-sodium tuna (rinsed and drained), 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup of finely chopped apple, 2 tablespoons of fat-free mayonnaise, and some fresh ground pepper. Then spoon the mixture into celery stalks. (Think tuna salad on a log.) Makes 2 servings
Per serving: 114 calories, 15 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber), 1 gram fat
SeaweedWhile this algae is a popular health food in Japan, it rarely makes it into U. S. homes.
Why it’s healthy: There are four classes of seaweeds—green, brown, red, and blue-green—and they’re all packed with healthful nutrients. “Seaweeds are a great plant source of calcium,” says nutritionist Alan Aragon, M.S. They’re also loaded with potassium, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood-pressure levels. “Low potassium and high sodium intake can cause high blood pressure,” Bowden says. “Most people know to limit sodium, but another way to combat the problem is to take in more potassium.”
How to eat it: In sushi, of course. You can also buy sheets of dried seaweed at Asian groceries, specialty health stores, or online at edenfoods.com. Use a coffee grinder to grind the sheets into a powder. Then use the powder as a healthy salt substitute that’s great for seasoning salads and soups.
Hemp SeedsDespite the Cannabis classification, these seeds aren’t for smoking. But they may provide medicinal benefits.
Why they’re healthy: “Hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke,” says Cassandra Forsythe, Ph. D., a nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut. What’s more, a 1-ounce serving of the seeds provides 11 grams of protein—but not the kind of incomplete protein found in most plant sources. Hemp seeds provide all the essential amino acids, meaning the protein they contain is comparable to that found in meat, eggs, and dairy.
How to eat them: Toss 2 tablespoons of the seeds into your oatmeal or stir-fry. Or add them to your postworkout shake for an extra dose of muscle-building protein.
ScallopsPerhaps these mollusks are considered guilty by association, since they often appear in decadent restaurant meals that are overloaded with calories. (But then again, so does asparagus.)
Why they’re healthy: Scallops are more than 80 percent protein. “One 3-ounce serving provides 20 grams of protein and just 95 calories,” says Bowden. They’re also a good source of both magnesium and potassium. (Clams and oysters provide similar benefits.)
How to eat them: Sear the scallops: It’s a fast and easy way to prepare this seafood.
Purchase fresh, dry-packed scallops (not the “wet-packed” kind) and place them on a large plate or cookie sheet. While you preheat a skillet on medium high, pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season the exposed sides with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. When the skillet is hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil to it. Being careful not to overcrowd, lay the scallops in the skillet, seasoned-side down, and then season the top sides.
Sear the scallops until the bottoms are caramelized (about 2 minutes), and then flip them to sear for another 1 to 2 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Now they’re ready to eat. Pair the scallops with sauteed vegetables, or place them on a bed of brown rice.
Dark MeatSure, dark meat has more fat than white meat does, but have you ever considered what the actual difference is? Once you do, Thanksgiving won’t be the only time you “call the drumstick.”
Why it’s healthy: “The extra fat in dark turkey or chicken meat raises your levels of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that makes you feel fuller, longer,” says Aragon. The benefit: You’ll be less likely to overeat in the hours that follow your meal. What about your cholesterol? Only a third of the fat in a turkey drumstick is the saturated kind, according to the USDA food database. (The other two-thirds are heart-healthy unsaturated fats.) What’s more, 86 percent of that saturated fat either has no impact on cholesterol, or raises HDL (good) cholesterol more than LDL (bad) cholesterol—a result that actually lowers your heart-disease risk.
As for calories, an ounce of dark turkey meat contains just 8 more calories than an ounce of white meat.
How to eat it: Just enjoy, but be conscious of your total portion sizes. A good rule of thumb: Limit yourself to 8 ounces or less at any one sitting, which provides up to 423 calories. Eat that with a big serving of vegetables, and you’ll have a flavorful fat-loss meal.
LentilsIt’s no surprise that these hearty legumes are good for you. But when was the last time you ate any?
Why they’re healthy: Boiled lentils have about 16 grams of belly-filling fiber in every cup. Cooked lentils also contain 27 percent more folate per cup than cooked spinach does. And if you eat colored lentils—black, orange, red—there are compounds in the seed hulls that contain disease-fighting antioxidants, says Raymond Glahn, Ph. D., a research physiologist with Cornell University.
How to eat them: Use lentils as a bed for chicken, fish, or beef—they make a great substitute for rice or pasta.
Pour 4 cups of chicken stock into a large pot. Add 1 cup of red or brown lentils and a half cup each of onion and carrot chunks, along with 3 teaspoons of minced garlic. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the lentils until they’re tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the lentils from the heat, add a splash of red-wine vinegar, and serve.
Over the years I have seen a lot of people talk about heros and in this day and age it seems that living heros were a thing of the past. Then I saw this video and my faith in mankind is once again restored and I have new hero to add to my heros board that I look to every day for inspiration. Please watch this video and tell me what you think.
Even before you start exercising, you can use plenty of tricks to eliminate visceral fat, improve your flab-burning metabolic process, and start losing weight fast.
And for more great ways to and lose weight and stay slim for good, pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Diet today! It combines the latest findings in exercise and nutrition with practical how-to advice that will transform your body into a fat-burning machine.
The Men’s Health Diet isn’t about eating less, it’s about eating more—more nutrition-dense food, to crowd out the empty calories and keep you full all day. That’s important, because restricting food will kill your metabolism. It makes your body think, “I’m starving here!” And your body responds by slowing your metabolic rate in order to hold on to existing energy stores. What’s worse, if the food shortage (meaning your crash diet) continues, you’ll begin burning muscle tissue, which just gives your enemy, visceral fat, a greater advantage. Your metabolism drops even more, and fat goes on to claim even more territory.
Go to Bed Earlier
A study in Finland looked at sets of identical twins and discovered that of each set of siblings, the twin who slept less and was under more stress had more visceral fat.
Eat More Protein
Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. In a 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease,” researchers argued that the present recommended daily allowance of protein, 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, was established using obsolete data and is woefully inadequate for an individual doing resistance training. Researchers now recommend an amount between 0.8 and 1 gram per pound of body weight. 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. Plus, research showed that protein can up post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35 percent.
Go Organic When You Can
Canadian researchers reported that dieters with the most organochlorines (pollutants from pesticides, which are stored in fat cells) experienced a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lost weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. In other words, pesticides make it harder to lose pounds. Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain. Of course, it’s not always easy to find—or to afford—a whole bunch of organic produce. So you need to know when organic counts, and when it’s not that important. Organic onions, avocados, grapefruit? Not necessary. But choose organic when buying celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale or collard greens, cherries, potatoes, and imported grapes; they tend to have the highest levels of pesticides. A simple rule of thumb: If you can eat the skin, go organic.
Get Up, Stand Up
Whether you sit or stand at work may play as big a role in your health and your waistline as your fitness routine. In one study researchers discovered that inactivity (4 hours or more) causes a near shutdown in an enzyme that controls fat and cholesterol metabolism. To keep this enzyme active and increase your fat burning, break up long periods of downtime by standing up—for example, while talking on the phone.
Drink Cold Water
German researchers found that drinking 6 cups of cold water a day (that’s 48 ounces) can raise resting metabolism by about 50 calories daily—enough to shed 5 pounds in a year. The increase may come from the work it takes to heat the water to body temperature. Though the extra calories you burn drinking a single glass don’t amount to much, making it a habit can add up to pounds lost with essentially zero additional effort.
Eat the Heat
It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about 1 tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body’s production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight-or-flight response), according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. The result: a temporary metabolism spike of about 23 percent. Stock up on chilies to add to meals, and keep a jar of red pepper flakes on hand for topping pizzas, pastas, and stir-fries.
Rev Up in the Morning
Eating breakfast jump-starts metabolism and keeps energy high all day. It’s no accident that those who skip this meal are 4 1/2 times as likely to be obese. And the heartier your first meal is, the better. In one study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, volunteers who got 22 to 55 percent of their total calories at breakfast gained only 1.7 pounds on average over 4 years. Those who ate zero to 11 percent of their calories in the morning gained nearly 3 pounds.
Drink Coffee or Tea
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, so your daily java jolt can rev your metabolism 5 to 8 percent—about 98 to 174 calories a day. A cup of brewed tea can raise your metabolism by 12 percent, according to one Japanese study. Researchers believe the antioxidant catechins in tea provide the boost.
Fight Fat with Fiber
Fiber can rev your fat burn by as much as 30 percent. Studies find that those who eat the most fiber gain the least weight over time. Aim for about 25 g a day—the amount in about three servings each of fruits and vegetables.
Eat Iron-Rich Foods
Iron is essential for carrying the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat. Unless you restock your store, you run the risk of low energy and a sagging metabolism. Shellfish, lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach are excellent sources. (But it’s not always a good idea to take a supplement. Too much iron has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease in men. Get this essential mineral in natural doses from real foods.)
Get More D
Vitamin D is essential for preserving metabolism-revving muscle tissue. Unfortunately, researchers estimate that a measly 20 percent of Americans take in enough through their diet. Get 90 percent of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of salmon. Other good sources: tuna, fortified milk and cereals, and eggs.
There’s some evidence that calcium deficiency may slow metabolism. Research shows that consuming calcium in dairy foods such as fat-free milk and low-fat yogurt may also reduce fat absorption from other foods.
The amino acid arginine, abundant in watermelon, might promote weight loss, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers supplemented the diets of obese mice with arginine over 3 months and found that it decreased body-fat gains by a whopping 64 percent. Adding this amino acid to the diet enhanced the oxidation of fat and glucose and increased lean muscle, which burns more calories than fat does. Snack on watermelon and other arginine sources, such as seafood, nuts, and seeds, year-round.
All of your body’s chemical reactions, including your metabolism, depend on water. If you are dehydrated, you may be burning up to 2 percent fewer calories, according to researchers at the University of Utah who monitored the metabolic rates of 10 adults as they drank varying amounts of water per day. In the study, those who drank either eight or twelve 8-ounce glasses of water a day had higher metabolic rates than those who had four.