Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 Natural Ways To Boost And Improve Your Metabolism

Slow Metabolism? 5 Natural Ways To Boost And Improve Your Metabolism

1. Get your Omega – 3s fatty acids: Omega – from where do you think you can get Omega – 3s? Yes you guessed it. 3s is found in fish such as salmon, herring, and tuna. But why doctors always tell us to eat fish? and how fish improves your metabolism? Well, the answer is that Omega-3s balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, helping to regulate metabolism. They may also reduce resistance to the hormone leptin, which researchers have linked to how fast fat is burned.

2. Switch to Green Tea: I talked about the benefits of green tea in previous posts and showed how many great benefits can it contribute to the human body. Now I can add another benefit which is your Metabolism. But how much do you have to drink? According to one study, if you drink five eight-ounce cups of green tea a day, you can increase your energy expenditure by 90 calories a day. Sounds like a lot of tea, but it’s not hard to do if you also drink it iced.

3. Eat Breakfast: Sometimes when we wake up in the morning we don’t feel hungry, probably we will be satisfied with cup of coffee or tea. But the way that doctors explain it to their patients is “Eating breakfast gets the engine going and keeps it going.” According to the National Weight Control Registry (an ongoing study that tracks 5,000 people who lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off more than five years), 78 percent of those who keep it off eat an a.m. meal every day. Wow great results.

4. Buy Organic Food Only: Fruits, vegetables, and grains grown without pesticides keep your fat-burning system running at full-tilt because they don’t expose your thyroid to toxins, Hyman says. Nonorganic produce, on the other hand, “blocks your metabolism mainly by interfering with your thyroid, which is your body’s thermostat and determines how fast it runs,” he explains.

5. Exercise: The next time you run, swim, or even walk, ramp up the intensity for 30-second intervals, returning to your normal speed afterward. Using this strategy will help you consume more oxygen and make your cell powerhouses, the mitochondria, work harder to burn energy, explains Mark Hyman, MD, an integrative and functional medicine specialist in private practice in Lenox, Massachusetts, and author of Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss. “You increase the number of mitochondria and how efficiently they burn throughout the day,” he explains.

10 Ways to Boost your Metabolism


The Elusive Metabolism Boost

Boosting the metabolism is the holy grail of weight watchers everywhere, but how fast your body burns calories depends on several factors. Some people inherit a speedy metabolism. Men tend to burn more calories than women, even while resting. And for most people, metabolism slows steadily after age 40. Although you can't control your age, gender, or genetics, there are other ways to get a boost. Read on for 10 ways to rev up.

(1) Build Muscle

Our bodies constantly burn calories, even when we’re doing nothing. This resting metabolic rate is much higher in people with more muscle. Every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories daily. That small difference can add up over time. In addition, after a bout of resistance training, muscles are activated all over your body, increasing your average daily metabolic rate.

(2) Kick Your Workout Up a Notch

Aerobic exercise may not build big muscles, but it can rev up your metabolism in the hours after a workout. The key is to push yourself. High-intensity exercise delivers a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than low- or moderate workouts. To get the benefits, try a more intense class at the gym or include short bursts of jogging during your regular walk.

(3) Drink More Water

The body needs water to process calories. If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. To stay hydrated, drink a glass of water or other unsweetened beverage before every meal and snack. In addition, try munching on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are full of fluid, rather than pretzels or chips.

(4) Have Your Drinks on the Rocks

Ice-cold beverages prompt the body to burn more calories during digestion. Research suggests five or six glasses of water on the rocks can use up an extra 10 calories a day. That might not sound like much, but it adds up to a pound of weight loss per year -- without dieting. You can get the same benefit by drinking iced tea or coffee, as long as you forego the cream and sugar.  [CHRIS: I don’t really agree with this recommendation.  Cold water may not be the best for your stomach to deal with.  Some, like myself, prefer room-temperature water.  It’s easy on the stomach and goes down much faster than cold ice water.]

(5) Eat More Often

Eating more really can help you lose weight -- eating more often, that is. When you eat large meals with many hours in between, you train your metabolism to slow down. Having a small meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours keeps your metabolism cranking, so you burn more calories over the course of a day. Several studies have also shown that people who snack regularly eat less at meal time.

(6) Spice Up Your Meals

Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that kick the metabolism into high gear. Eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can temporarily boost your metabolic rate by 23 percent. Some studies suggest the effect only lasts about half an hour, but if you eat spicy foods often, the benefits may add up. For a quick boost, spice up pasta dishes, chili, and stews with red-pepper flakes.

(7) Eat More Protein

The body burns up to twice as many calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates. Although you want to eat a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can jump-start the metabolism at mealtime. Healthy sources of protein include lean beef and pork, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.

(8) Drink Black Coffee

If you’re a coffee drinker, you probably enjoy the increased energy and concentration that follows your morning ritual. Well, some of these benefits are linked to a short-term increase in your metabolic rate. In one study, the caffeine in two cups of coffee prompted a 145-pound woman to burn 50 extra calories over the next four hours. Just be sure to drink it black. If you add cream, sugar, or flavored syrups, you’ll take in far more calories than you burn.

(9) Drink Green Tea

Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours. Research suggests drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn an extra 50 calories each day. That adds up to 5 pounds of weight loss in a year.

(10) Avoid Crash Diets

Crash diets -- those involving eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day -- are disastrous for anyone hoping to quicken their metabolism. Although these diets may help you drop pounds (at the expense of good nutrition), a high percentage of the loss comes from muscle. The lower your muscle mass, the slower your metabolism. The final result is a body that burns far fewer calories (and gains weight faster) than the one you had before the diet.

Best Bets

The impact of different foods and drinks on the metabolism is small compared to what you need for sustained weight loss. Your best bet for creating a mean calorie-burning machine is to build muscle and stay active. The more you move during the day, the more calories you burn. And remember: working out in the morning has the benefit of revving up your metabolism for hours.

Make the Most of Your Metabolism


By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

"It's my metabolism!"

Sound familiar? If you're carrying some extra pounds (and having a hard time losing them), it's tempting to put the blame on a sluggish metabolism.

But is your metabolism really the reason it's often so hard to lose weight? And, more important, is there anything you can do about it?

WebMD asked experts to explore facts and myths about metabolism -- and the good news is, there are things you can do to help boost your body's calorie-burning power.

See How You Can Boost Your Metabolism

What Is Metabolism?

Your metabolism, experts say, involves a complex network of hormones and enzymes that not only convert food into fuel but also affect how efficiently you burn that fuel.

"The process of metabolism establishes the rate at which we burn our calories and, ultimately, how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it," says Robert Yanagisawa, MD, director of the Medically Supervised Weight Management Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Of course, not everyone burns calories at the same rate.

Your metabolism is influenced by your age (metabolism naturally slows about 5% per decade after age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be).

And yes, heredity makes a difference.

"Some people just burn calories at a slower rate than others," says Barrie Wolfe-Radbill, RD, a nutritionist specializing in weight loss at New York University Medical Center.

Occasionally, Yanagisawa says, a defect in the thyroid gland can slow metabolism, though this problem is relatively rare.

And here's a fact that may surprise you: the more weight you carry, the faster your metabolism is likely running.

"The simple fact is that the extra weight causes your body to work harder just to sustain itself at rest, so in most instances, the metabolism is always running a bit faster," says Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Oscher's Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center.

That's one reason it's almost always easiest to lose weight at the start of a diet, and harder later on, Kimball says: "When you are very overweight your metabolism is already running so high that any small cut in calories will result in an immediate loss."

Then, when you lose significant amounts of body fat and muscle, your body needs fewer calories to sustain itself, she says. That helps explain why it's so easy to regain weight after you've worked to lose it.

"If two people both weigh 250 pounds, and one got there by dieting down from 350 and the other one was always at 250, the one who got there by cutting calories is going to have a slower metabolism," says Yanagisawa. "That means they will require fewer calories to maintain their weight than the person who never went beyond 250 pounds."

Revving Your Engine

Though some of the factors affecting metabolic rate can't be changed, happily, there are ways to maximize the metabolism you're born with -- even when you're dieting.

Among the best ways is exercise. This includes aerobic workouts to burn more calories in the short term, and weight training to build the muscles that will boost your metabolism in the long run.

"Since muscle burns more calories than fat -- even while at rest -- the more muscles you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate, which means the more calories your body will be burning just to sustain you," says Kimball.

Personal fitness trainer Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, ACE, notes that every pound of muscle in our bodies burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day.

While 30 minutes of aerobic exercise may burn more calories than 30 minutes of weight training, Calabrese says, "in the hours following the cessation of exercise, the weight training has a longer-lasting effect on boosting metabolism."

Having extra muscle also means you can eat more and gain less.

Adds Yanagisawa: "We don't tell people to exercise while dieting only to burn calories -- we also know that exercise builds muscle and that is what will help you burn more calories and maintain the weight loss you work so hard to achieve."

Some women fear they'll "bulk up" with weight training. But Calabrese, author of Feminine, Fit and Firm, says not to worry.

"Women don't have the hormones necessary to develop those huge muscles, so you can feel good about doing weight training," she says.

Eat More, Burn Better

Of course, the diet advice we'd all love to hear is "Eat more and lose more weight!" But what really works is "Eat more often, and you'll lose more weight." Small, but frequent, meals help keep your metabolism in high gear, and that means you'll burn more calories overall.

"When you put too many hours between meals, your metabolism actually slows down to compensate," says Kimball.

If you then eat a huge meal -- at the same time your metabolism is functioning as if you're starving -- your body wants to hold on to every calorie.

While this won't make much difference on an occasional basis, Kimball says, make it a way of life and it can get harder to lose or maintain weight.

Kimball's advice is borne out by the findings of a study that was presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Researchers from Georgia State University reported that when athletes ate snacks totaling about 250 calories each, three times a day, they had greater energy output then when they didn't snack.

The study also found that snacking helped the athletes eat less at each of their three regular meals. The final result was a higher metabolic rate, a lower caloric intake, and reduction in body fat.

Fat-Burning Foods?

From supermodels who douse their food with red pepper, to movie stars who swear by green tea, there's no shortage of claims for foods that are said to increase metabolism. But do any of them work?

"Actually, any food will increase your metabolism, mostly in the first hour after you eat -- that's when your system is most revved," says Kimball.

Further, she says, protein generally requires about 25% more energy to digest. So -- at least theoretically - a high-protein snack might rev metabolism a little more than a carb-heavy food with the same number of calories. That said, it's not clear that any food has special powers to boost metabolism significantly.

"Some studies have shown hot pepper and very spicy foods can increase metabolism by about 20% for about 30 minutes, but no one really knows if the extra burn lasts any longer than that, " says Kimball.

In a small study on Japanese women published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found red pepper caused the body to heat up and revved the metabolism following a meal. But the most effects were seen primarily when the red pepper was eaten with high-fat foods (which are also higher in calories).

Another small study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reported that male athletes who added red pepper to high-carbohydrate meals boosted both their resting and active metabolic rates 30 minutes after the meal. But there was no evidence this burn power was lasting.

The same appears true for green tea, which contains a substance called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a powerful antioxidant that some believe can bring about the same kind of calorie-burning effect as hot pepper.

In a study of 10 men published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that 90 milligrams of EGCG and 50 milligrams of caffeine taken with meals boosted 24-hour energy expenditure by 4% (caffeine alone did not show a similar effect).

But it's not clear whether this effect would be enough to boost weight loss. And that, says Radbill, is precisely the point.

"Essentially, you would have to drink so much of it in order to see even a small effect, that I don't think it's really worth it," says Radbill. "Drink green tea for other health-giving properties, but not to lose weight."

The bottom line, she says, is this: "All these foods may have a slight impact on metabolism, but the increase is still insignificant compared to what you need in order to lose weight."

Your best bet for keeping metabolism revved: Build muscles, snack on low-calorie, high-protein foods, and keep moving!


Metabolism Basics

Our bodies get the energy they need from food through metabolism, the chemical reactions in the body's cells that convert the fuel from food into the energy needed to do everything from moving to thinking to growing. Specific proteins in the body control the chemical reactions of metabolism, and each chemical reaction is coordinated with other body functions. In fact, thousands of metabolic reactions happen at the same time — all regulated by the body — to keep our cells healthy and working.

Metabolism is a constant process that begins when we're conceived and ends when we die. It is a vital process for all life forms — not just humans. If metabolism stops, a living thing dies.

Here's an example of how the process of metabolism works in humans — and it begins with plants. First, a green plant takes in energy from sunlight. The plant uses this energy and the molecule cholorophyll (which gives plants their green color) to build sugars from water and carbon dioxide in a process known as photosynthesis.

When people and animals eat the plants (or, if they're carnivores, when they eat animals that have eaten the plants), they take in this energy (in the form of sugar), along with other vital cell-building chemicals. The body's next step is to break the sugar down so that the energy released can be distributed to, and used as fuel by, the body's cells.


After food is eaten, molecules in the digestive system called enzymes break proteins down into amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars (for example, glucose). In addition to sugar, both amino acids and fatty acids can be used as energy sources by the body when needed. These compounds are absorbed into the blood, which transports them to the cells.

After they enter the cells, other enzymes act to speed up or regulate the chemical reactions involved with "metabolizing" these compounds. During these processes, the energy from these compounds can be released for use by the body or stored in body tissues, especially the liver, muscles, and body fat.

In this way, the process of metabolism is really a balancing act involving two kinds of activities that go on at the same time — the building up of body tissues and energy stores and the breaking down of body tissues and energy stores to generate more fuel for body functions:

  • Anabolism, or constructive metabolism, is all about building and storing: It supports the growth of new cells, the maintenance of body tissues, and the storage of energy for use in the future. During anabolism, small molecules are changed into larger, more complex molecules of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
  • Catabolism, or destructive metabolism, is the process that produces the energy required for all activity in the cells. In this process, cells break down large molecules (mostly carbohydrates and fats) to release energy. This energy release provides fuel for anabolism, heats the body, and enables the muscles to contract and the body to move. As complex chemical units are broken down into more simple substances, the waste products released in the process of catabolism are removed from the body through the skin, kidneys, lungs, and intestines.
The Endocrine System

Several of the hormones of the endocrine system are involved in controlling the rate and direction of metabolism. Thyroxine, a hormone produced and released by the thyroid gland, plays a key role in determining how fast or slow the chemical reactions of metabolism proceed in a person's body.

Another gland, the pancreas secretes hormones that help determine whether the body's main metabolic activity at a particular time will be anabolic or catabolic. For example, after eating a meal, usually more anabolic activity occurs because eating increases the level of glucose — the body's most important fuel — in the blood. The pancreas senses this increased level of glucose and releases the hormone insulin, which signals cells to increase their anabolic activities.

Metabolism is a complicated chemical process, so it's not surprising that many people think of it in its simplest sense: as something that influences how easily our bodies gain or lose weight. That's where calories come in. A calorie is a unit that measures how much energy a particular food provides to the body. A chocolate bar has more calories than an apple, so it provides the body with more energy — and sometimes that can be too much of a good thing. Just as a car stores gas in the gas tank until it is needed to fuel the engine, the body stores calories — primarily as fat. If you overfill a car's gas tank, it spills over onto the pavement. Likewise, if a person eats too many calories, they "spill over" in the form of excess body fat.

The number of calories someone burns in a day is affected by how much that person exercises, the amount of fat and muscle in his or her body, and the person's basal metabolic rate (or BMR). BMR is a measure of the rate at which a person's body "burns" energy, in the form of calories, while at rest. The BMR can play a role in someone's tendency to gain weight. For example, a person with a low BMR (who therefore burns fewer calories while at rest or sleeping) will tend to gain more pounds of body fat over time, compared with a similar-sized person with an average BMR who eats the same amount of food and gets the same amount of exercise.

What Factors Influence BMR?

To a certain extent, BMR is inherited. Sometimes health problems can affect BMR, but people can actually change their BMR in certain ways. For example, exercising more will not only cause a person to burn more calories directly from the extra activity itself, but becoming more physically fit will increase BMR as well. BMR is also influenced by body composition — people with more muscle and less fat generally have higher BMRs.

Metabolism Problems

In a broad sense, a metabolic disorder is any disease that is caused by an abnormal chemical reaction in the body's cells. Most disorders of metabolism involve either abnormal levels of enzymes or hormones or problems with the functioning of those enzymes or hormones. When the metabolism of body chemicals is blocked or defective, it can cause a buildup of toxic substances in the body or a deficiency of substances needed for normal body function, either of which can lead to serious symptoms.

Some metabolic diseases are inherited. These conditions are called inborn errors of metabolism. When babies are born, they're tested for many of these metabolic diseases in a newborn screening test. Many of these inborn errors of metabolism can lead to serious complications or even death if they're not controlled with diet or medication from an early age.

Examples of Metabolic Disorders and Conditions

G6PD deficiency. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, or G6PD, is just one of the many enzymes that play a role in cell metabolism. G6PD is produced by red blood cells and helps the body metabolize carbohydrates. Without enough normal G6PD to help red blood cells handle certain harmful substances, red blood cells can be damaged or destroyed, leading to a condition known as hemolytic anemia. In a process called hemolysis, red blood cells are destroyed prematurely, and the bone marrow (the soft, spongy part of the bone that produces new blood cells) may not be able to keep up with the body's need to produce more new red blood cells. Kids with G6PD deficiency may be pale and tired and have a rapid heartbeat and breathing. They may also have an enlarged spleen or jaundice — a yellowing of the skin and eyes. G6PD deficiency is usually treated by discontinuing medications or treating the illness or infection causing the stress on the red blood cells.

Galactosemia. Babies born with this inborn error of metabolism do not have enough of the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk called galactose. This enzyme is produced in the liver. If the liver doesn't produce enough of this enzyme, galactose builds up in the blood and can cause serious health problems. Symptoms usually occur within the first days of life and include vomiting, swollen liver, and jaundice. If galactosemia is not diagnosed and treated quickly, it can cause liver, eye, kidney, and brain damage.

Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid releases too much of the hormone thyroxine, which increases the person's basal metabolic rate (BMR). It causes symptoms such as weight loss, increased heart rate and blood pressure, protruding eyes, and a swelling in the neck from an enlarged thyroid (goiter). The disease may be controlled with medications or through surgery or radiation treatments.

More Metabolic Disorders

Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is caused by an absent or underactive thyroid gland and it results from a developmental problem or a destructive disease of the thyroid. The thyroid releases too little of the hormone thyroxine, so a person's basal metabolic rate (BMR) is low. In infants and young children who don't get treatment, this condition can result in stunted growth and mental retardation. Hypothyroidism slows body processes and causes fatigue, slow heart rate, excessive weight gain, and constipation. Kids and teens with this condition can be treated with oral thyroid hormone to achieve normal levels in the body.

Phenylketonuria. Also known as PKU, this condition occurs in infants due to a defect in the enzyme that breaks down the amino acid phenylalanine. This amino acid is necessary for normal growth in infants and children and for normal protein production. However, if too much of it builds up in the body, brain tissue is affected and mental retardation occurs. Early diagnosis and dietary restriction of the amino acid can prevent or lessen the severity of these complications.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce and secrete enough insulin. Symptoms of this disease include excessive thirst and urination, hunger, and weight loss. Over the long term, the disease can cause kidney problems, pain due to nerve damage, blindness, and heart and blood vessel disease. Kids and teens with type 1 diabetes need to receive regular injections of insulin and control blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of developing problems from diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes happens when the body can't respond normally to insulin. The symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of type 1 diabetes. Many kids who develop type 2 diabetes are overweight, and this is thought to play a role in their decreased responsiveness to insulin. Some can be treated successfully with dietary changes, exercise, and oral medication, but insulin injections are necessary in other cases. Controlling blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing the same kinds of long-term health problems that occur with type 1 diabetes.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2009


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Silverlight debugging: Telling Visual Studio not to break on ValidationException

I found it was annoying that I would get thrown into the debugger every time a ValidationException was thrown in the Silverlight field validation logic.  This can be fixed by telling VS to ignore this particular exception:

VS 2010 already has the ValidationException in the Exceptions list, but if yours doesn’t or you are using VS 2008, you can follow these instructions to manually add it:

  1. Click on Debug->Exceptions (Ctrl+D, E)
  2. Click on Add…
  3. Select the Type as “Common Language Runtime Exceptions”
  4. Type the name as System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.ValidationException and click OK.
  5. You’ll now see this exception in the list.  Uncheck “User-unhandled just for this exception, and click OK.


This lets you keep all of the other exceptions turned on, but Visual Studio will no longer break when Silverlight hits a ValidationException.