TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Simple Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

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Forget the "calories in, calories out" equation

Throughout my years counseling clients I’ve seen many achieve fantastic weight loss results, including those who had not had success with other approaches, or thought they couldn’t possibly lose weight due to various circumstances, like being injured and unable to exercise, or being post-menopausal.

Based on my experience, I always believe that results are possible, but I’ve also learned that weight loss isn’t predictable or easy—and it certainly isn’t as simple as a “calories in versus calories out” equation. A new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) illustrated this and backs what I’ve seen in my own practice—one person’s metabolic response to eating less may not mimic another’s, due to biological differences.

NIH researchers studied a dozen obese men and women in a metabolic unit. The study measured the subjects’ calorie expenditures, both before and after a day of fasting, followed by a six-week phase during which they reduced their calorie intakes by 50%. After accounting for factors including age, sex, and starting weight, scientists found that those who lost the least weight during the reduced calorie period were those whose metabolisms decreased most during the one day fast. These people have what scientists refer to as a “thrifty” metabolism. The opposite results were also found: those with “spendthrift” metabolisms, which decreased the least during the fast, lost the most weight.

In a nutshell, the theory behind “thrifty” metabolism is that when faced with a sudden shortfall of food, some people’s bodies quickly compensate to conserve energy, by burning fewer calories. So if, for example, you went from eating 3,000 calories a day to 1,500, a thrifty metabolism would trigger a conservation mode, designed to shrink the calorie deficit. Historically, people with this adaptation were better able to survive during times of famine; but today, it presents a challenge for those trying to shed excess pounds. It’s also one of the reasons why simply slashing your intake by 500 calories a day isn’t a guarantee that you’ll shed one pound in a week (for more check out my previous post Why You Can’t Rely on Calorie Counts and Why Dieting Makes You Fat).

If you think you may be in this group, and your biology is making it tough for you to see results, don’t give up. Here are six things you can do to maximize your metabolism, and counter the effects of possible “thriftiness.” While your results may be slower than a “spendthrift” counterpart, losing weight isn’t an impossibility.

Become a tea drinker

Natural substances in green tea—antioxidants called catechins, and caffeine—have been shown to help boost metabolism, and trigger increased fat burning. Aim for about five cups a day, the amount tied to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease. Based on the research on how green tea impacts metabolism, this quantity could also translate into the loss of eight pounds over a year’s time.

Drink more water

In addition to naturally curbing calorie intake, water has been shown to positively affect metabolism. One German study found that drinking two cups (16 ounces) of water upped calorie burning by 30% within 10 minutes, and the effect was sustained for more than an hour. Shoot for a solid eight cups (64 ounces) daily, and if you dislike the taste, spruce it up with healthy add-ins like sliced cucumber, fresh grated ginger, mashed fruit, lemon, lime, basil, or mint.

Eat more produce

We all know that veggies and fruits are nutrient rich, but research shows they may also impact leanness, due to their ability to help preserve metabolism-boosting muscle. In one study, University of Florida researchers found that when two groups consumed the same number of daily calories, those who ate more plant-based foods had smaller waist circumferences, and lower body fat percentages. Aim to eat produce at every meal. One simple formula is to include one serving of fruit in every breakfast and snack, and two serving of veggies in each lunch and dinner. For more about how to build meals around veggies check out my previous post 5 Perfect Pasta Alternatives.

Eat more whole versus processed foods

More proof that a calorie isn’t a calorie came from research conducted at Pomona College. Researchers found that when healthy women consumed meals that were similar in terms of carb, protein, and fat content, they burned about 50% more calories eating whole foods versus highly processed foods. To reap this metabolism-boosting benefit, stick with foods as close to their natural state as possible. For example, rather than a turkey sub on a processed roll and a bag of baked chips for lunch, order a chopped salad made with greens and veggies, topped with lean protein and avocado. At snack time trade anything that comes from a package with a tennis ball sized portion of fresh fruit and a golf ball sized serving of nuts.

Eat more pulses

You know about beans—black, red, white…well, pulses are a unique food group that includes beans, as well as peas, like chickpeas, and split peas, and lentils. I made a daily dose of pulses a key strategy in the weight loss plan in my new book Slim Down Now, in part because they’re so filling, nutrient rich, and gluten free, but also because of their impact on metabolism. A review published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that pulses increase calorie and fat burning, and help reduce visceral fat, the deep internal belly fat known to up the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To bolster your metabolism, include a half cup of a pulse in one of your daily meals, like a side of black beans with your veggie avocado omelet, lentils in your lunch salad, oven-roasted chickpeas or hummus in a snack, or white bean and kale soup at dinner. You can even incorporate pulses into desserts! For more about pulses check out How to Keep the Carbs and Still Lose the Pounds.

Drink coffee pre-exercise

Exercise itself can help boost metabolism, but according to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism drinking java before you get your heart rate up may further up your metabolic rate. Researchers found that compared to those who took in a placebo, athletes who consumed caffeine pre-exercise torched about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise. The dose used in the study was 4.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 300 mg of caffeine for a 150-pound woman (68 kg), the amount in about 12 ounces of brewed coffee. For more about the benefits of coffee for exercisers, check out my previous post.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Trans Fats Are Hiding All Over Your Grocery List

A new report finds that 37% of foods in grocery stores may have trans fat

Eating trans fat raises the risk of coronary heart disease, and evidence suggests that no amount of it is safe. But more than a third of packaged foods found in grocery stores likely contain trans fat, found a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Trans fats used by the food industry are manmade by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, which makes it solid at room temperature and good at extending the shelf life of snacks. The World Health Organization supports “virtual elimination” of trans fats from the food supply.

But still it persists, found the EWG. The group used their Food Scores database to analyze more than 87,000 foods for trans fat-containing ingredients: most famously partially hydrogenated oil. Seeing that phrase on an ingredient list is a red flag for trans fat.

It’s not the only ingredient that signifies trans fat, according to EWG’s investigation. Refined oils like soybean, canola, cottonseed and corn oil, fully hydrogenated oils and perhaps even some emulsifiers like monoglycerides and diglycerides contain trans fat in smaller amounts, the report says. Flavors and colors even use partially hydrogenated oils sometimes and are a “likely source” of trans fat, according to EWG.

27% of the analyzed foods contained partially hydrogenated oils, refined oils or fully hydrogenated oils on their ingredient lists. EWG identified more than 400 foods with four or more grams of trans fat per serving.

MORE: How Trans Fat Eats Away At Your Memory

And another 10% of foods likely have trans fat, the report concluded—even those labeled “zero” grams of trans fat. Food companies are allowed to claim a product has no trans fat if it contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. “Serving sizes are notoriously small,” says Dawn Undurraga, report author and registered dietitian at EWG, so even fractions of a gram can add up quickly.

The biggest sources of trans fat were the foods with a non-zero amount of trans fat listed on the label. The 16 foods with the most trans fat were breakfast sandwiches (0.94 g/serving), frozen pies (0.83 g), frosting and icing (0.75 g), eclairs and snack cakes (0.65 g), frozen cakes (0.50 g), frozen mini burgers (0.47 g), croissants (0.43 g), frozen cheesecakes (0.41 g), pastry shells (0.37), canned chili (0.36 g), heady-to-heat potatoes (0.33 g), frozen muffins (0.33 g), beef in a can (0.32 g), snack pies (0.32 g), cheese sauce (0.32 g) and popcorn (0.31 g).

“In some ways these products are bad, but at least they let you know that they’re bad,” says Undurraga.

Of equal concern were the foods claiming to have 0 grams of trans fat but which included partially hydrogenated oil on their ingredient lists—some brands of breakfast bars, granola, peanut butter, pretzels, crackers, bread, fruit snack candies, cereal, graham crackers, whipped topping, non-dairy creamer, pudding mixes, cupcakes and ice cream cones. “There’s a lot of kids foods here,” Undurraga says. “It’s really disconcerting.”

Even though we’re eating less trans fat than ever, Americans still have a long way to go towards adopting a diet free of trans fats. The findings add to recent research that trans fat lurks in all kinds of packaged foods. One study last year found that 9% of the packaged foods it surveyed listed partially hydrogenated oils in their ingredients, yet 84% of those claimed to be trans-fat free.

“It’s a little bit disingenuous to say trans fat intake is decreasing,” says Undurraga. “It is decreasing, but without data to be able to drive your analysis, how are you really getting an accurate picture of what is actually happening?”

In response to a request for comment, an FDA spokesperson said the government body is still reviewing the report. The FDA is currently in the midst of litigation about trans fat; in 2013, 98-year-old heart disease researcher Fred Kummerow sued the FDA for failing to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oil, claiming it “calcifies both the arteries and veins and causes blood clots.” The FDA said it will file a status update with the court today.

TIME psychology

What the Josh Duggar Fiasco Can Teach Us About Pedophilia

It raises familiar questions with no easy answers

Want a challenge? Try feeling sorry for a pedophile—those guys (and they’re almost always guys) who lust for children, stalk children and may eventually molest or rape children. Even in prison they’re targets of violence from other inmates. When a murderer finds you morally repugnant, you know you’ve fallen far.

That universal loathing is on display again with public outrage around the news that reality TV star Josh Duggar, 27, of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, responded to allegations that he molested five underage girls when he was 15, saying that he “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”

There is more unknown about these charges than known: How old were the girls? What did the molestation involve? These and other questions are critical to understanding both the psychology and the alleged criminality at play.

But let’s address the worst possibility—that the girls were not teens like Duggar, but much younger. That he was drawn to them as an adult pedophile is drawn to a child, and that under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist, he would be diagnosed with clinical pedophilia. What does that mean for him—and for society?

Pedophilia is thought to be a relatively rare condition, afflicting from 1% to 5% of men, and a vanishingly small number of women. Admittedly 1% to 5% is a wide range, but unlike people suffering from, say, depression or phobias, people with pedophilic stirrings are not likely to step forward for treatment. Pedophiles are sexually drawn to children exclusively and as a group, prey on same sex and opposite sex children more or less equally. The condition has nothing at all to do with homosexuality.

Psychologists stress that not all child molesters are pedophiles and not all pedophiles molest. Only about 10% of known child abusers are thought to be clinical pedophiles. In most non-pedophilic cases of child abuse, the crime is an act of violence, of rage, sometimes a result of trauma. Often molesters were themselves molested in childhood—anywhere from one third to three quarters of them—though the studies on which these findings are based are often called into question because they rely on trusting the abusers to tell the truth about their past.

What’s barely in dispute anymore is that true pedophilia is a disorder with physiological roots. Scans of pedophiles’ brains show less connective white matter than the brains of other people; other studies show that pedophiles have a greater tendency to be left-handed, that they score poorly on visual and spatial tests and that they may even be shorter, on average, than other males. All of this points either to the genes or prenatal womb environment, or both, meaning that pedophilia is innate, unchosen and as fixed as anyone else’s sexuality.

“None of us decides the sorts of people we’re going to be attracted to,” says Dr. Fred Berlin of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma, in Baltimore. “We discover that, and that’s true too of people who discover they’re attracted to children. This is not the result of a choice.”

That’s where treatment becomes hard, and where sympathy—if you’re inclined to feel it—may be warranted. In the days in which homosexuality was punished, gays and lesbians spent their entire lives either denying themselves a sexual outlet or doing so furtively and fearfully. That led to profound suffering—made all the worse because it was unjust suffering. In a sexual encounter with another consenting adult, no one generally gets hurt—and the laws in most countries have finally come around.

But there will be no such coming around in the case of pedophilia, nor should there be, because by definition a child incapable of consent will always be hurt by the act. That means therapy for pedophiles—with luck before they act, but certainly afterwards.

Part of this may involve libido-lowering drugs; part involves an abstinence strategy similar to what’s used in day-at-a-time groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. And part involves other kinds of group support, such as the website Virtuous Pedophiles, for people who recognize their disorder and are determined not to act on it. That can work.

“Virtuous pedophiles make the point that pedophilia is by no means synonymous with child molestation,” says Berlin. “Some people can control their urges on their own or with a group. Others who have those attractions with perhaps a higher degree of desire may need more intervention, including medicine.”

In one study of 300 patients Berlin treated, only 3% who fully complied with treatment re-offended within five years. Among men who receive no treatment, 18% re-offend within three years.

There are no good answers for pedophilia, only less bad ones. Fury at men who hurt children is not misplaced, but nor is appreciation for those who struggle with their disorder and keep it under control. No one would choose to leave a child alone with an untreated pedophile. But no one would choose to be that pedophile either.

TIME Disease

How Dog Owners Can Keep Pets Safe From Canine Flu

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Kennels can be hotbeds for the illness

An outbreak of dog flu in Chicago, Illinois continues to plague pet owners there, and new cases have been reported in as many as 10 other states.

Much like influenza in humans, symptoms of the dog flu H3N2 include runny noses, coughing and fever—and in some dogs, even pneumonia and death. The number of dogs affected is impossible to gauge since there’s no organized system for testing and reporting this kind of pet illness, says Edward Dubovi, PhD, professor of virology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. There are likely many more than the 1,000 estimated cases in Chicago, he says, since many veterinarians stop sending in samples for testing after they’ve confirmed cases in the neighborhood.

Many of the states to which the virus has spread have seen only one confirmed case, often from a dog that recently visited Chicago. So while it’s not necessarily cause for major alarm, “that’s not to say there isn’t the possibility of independent introduction of this virus in other areas,” Dubovi says.

Humans are not at risk for the disease, but in areas like Illinois where the virus is most problematic, people can take steps to protect their pets from the flu.

Keep your dog out of close quarters. High-population areas like kennels, shelters and doggy daycare centers are hotbeds for the virus. And though we think about flu being a cold-weather disease, the warm weather may actually be part of the problem in this case, since vacationing dog owners often board their dogs in kennels. Dubovi says we need more information before drawing a definitive seasonal link, but just as a crowded plane can expose passengers to human flu, kennels can exposes pets to the virus. When possible, dog owners should try to avoid putting their pets in these cramped conditions in affected areas.

Put Fido on a leash. If dogs in your neighborhood are sick, make sure your pet isn’t able to come into physical contact with them, reports USA TODAY. Vaccination may be a good option, depending on your veterinarian’s advice.

If you’re a veterinarian, practice good hygiene. To protect against spreading the virus from one sick dog in the clinic to other healthy dogs, vets and their staff should be extra vigilant about maintaining clean hands, clothing and equipment. He also advises veterinarians to try to find out where the dog has recently been to help determine how the disease is spreading.

“Unfortunately with influenza virus, you can’t predict what it’s going to do,” Dubovi says. But as people become more cautious, “we may see an end to it,” he says.

TIME Obamacare

Got Obamacare? Your premiums are (probably) about to go way up

Health insurers on many state exchanges are requesting the right to increase premiums by upwards of 50%.

President Obama’s signature legislative achievement–the healthcare law popularly known as Obamacare–is facing a potentially existential fight in the Supreme Court in 2015.

But it’s not just the courts that supporters of the program need to worry about. According to a report published Friday in the The Wall Street Journal, health insurers are requesting the right in many states to increase premiums by upwards of 50%. Health Care Service Corp.–the leading health insurer in New Mexico, has asked state regulators to allow it to increase its premiums on average by 51.6%, for instance. Customers of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Maryland may face an average premium increase of 30.4%.

Insurers will have to submit their premium-hike proposals to their state regulators, and potentially the federal government. Regulators will review the requests, and may deny the insurers requests if rising costs don’t justify premium increases. But big rate hikes could be necessary to prevent insurers from taking a loss. According to the report:

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee . . . said it lost $141 million from exchange-sold plans, stemming largely from a small number of sick enrollees. “Our filing is planned to allow us to operate on at least a break-even basis for these plans, meaning that the rate would cover only medical services and expenses—with no profit margin for 2016,” said spokeswoman Mary Danielson.

It’s not all bad news, however. Obamacare insurers in some states–like Indiana, Connecticut and Maine–are asking for minimal or no increases to their premiums.

 

 

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Drinking Coffee May Fight Against Erectile Dysfunction

Researchers have found a link between higher caffeine consumption and lower ED

Good news for coffee drinkers: a few cups a day could help curb men’s risk for erectile dysfunction.

A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that men who drink more caffeine (the equivalent of about two or three cups of coffee) are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction than their peers who consume little or no caffeine, according to CBS News. Researchers can’t prove causality in this finding, but they suggest the correlation could be true because caffeine helps relax muscles and arteries, allowing freer blood flow.

The finding does not seem to apply, however, to diabetics, who face higher risks of erectile dysfunction.

[CBS]

TIME Research

Study Finds Possible Association Between Autism and Air Pollution

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Research suggests that early exposure to air pollution may have wide-ranging negative effects

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that exposure to fine particulate air pollution from pregnancy up and through the first two years of childhood may be linked with developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health conducted “a population-based, case-control study” of families living in southwestern Pennsylvania, which included children with and without ASD, reports Science Daily.

The research team was then able to estimate an individual’s exposure to specific categories of air pollution based on where their mothers lived before, during and after pregnancy.

“There is increasing and compelling evidence that points to associations between Pittsburgh’s poor air quality and health problems, especially those affecting our children and including issues such as autism spectrum disorder and asthma,” said Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments, which funded the research project.

However, the members of the study stressed that their findings “reflect an association” but does not ultimately prove causality.

[Science Daily]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Dozens of People in 9 States Sickened After Eating Raw Tuna

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The source of the outbreak is unknown, but most who fell ill reported eating sushi containing raw tuna

(LOS ANGELES) — Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak likely linked to raw tuna that has sickened 53 people in nine states.

The California Department of Public Health said Thursday that 31 of the cases are there. Other affected states include Arizona, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Ten people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The source of the outbreak is unknown, but most who fell ill reported eating sushi containing raw tuna.

Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S. It causes diarrhea, cramping and fever.

Health officials say the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should not eat raw fish or raw shellfish.

TIME Depression

These are the Most Depressed Workers

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One in five young workers have been depressed, according to the survey.

One in five millennials said they have been depressed on the job, the most of any age group, a new survey found.

That’s compared with 16% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Gen Xers, according to Mashable.

Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, a firm that provides employee drug testing and assistance for problems like gambling, published the survey, Depression and Work: The Impact of Depression on Different Generations of Employees, to coincide with National Mental Health Awareness Month. The study said that depressed employees are more likely to function poorly at work.

There was no word on why millennials, born from 1978 to 1999, are more depressed than other groups. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 while Gen Xers were from 1965 to 1977.

The article continued:

Other impacts of depression in the workplace include absenteeism (missing work), tense work relationships or conflicts, and receiving verbal or written disciplinary action as a result of depression.

“While major depression affects 10% of [American employees], an overwhelming 75% of people with depression don’t receive formal treatment,” Marie Apke, chief operating officer for Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, said in a statement. “Depression costs the economy more than $23 billion annually due to absenteeism. While recent public health initiatives continue to enhance and expand our understanding of the social and economic costs of depression, it’s clear more work is needed to combat depression in the workplace.”

TIME Candy

These Candy Companies have a Surprising New Strategy

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The candy companies are making a push into healthier snack bars

Candy companies are jumping on the health food bandwagon. Yes, really.

Mars Chocolate North America and Hershey both plan to introduce snack bars for health-conscious consumers, according to Ad Age.

The two companies unveiled their new bars at the Sweets and Snacks Expo this week in Chicago. Mars and Hershey are the biggest players in the US confectionary market with 25% market share each, Ad Age said. The new snack bars will feature fruit, nuts, dark chocolate and, allegedly, lower calories.

With the new bars, the two companies will compete against each another as well as against Kind, a successful snack bar start-up.

Mars will reportedly debut its Goodnessknows bars in stores in August. Hershey’s Brookside bars are just now starting to reach store shelves.

The push into snack bars comes amid a broader shift by the food industry to make their products healthier, or at least appear healthier. Fast-food chains are increasingly selling lower calorie menu items and meat produced without hormones.

For more on how large food companies have been singing a healthier tune recently, check out Beth Kowitt’s Fortune feature “The war on big food.”

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