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By Rebecca McNary

Eat your way to a faster metabolism

Kick-start that metabolism.

When I was a kid I was always told I had a fast metabolism. I could eat anything and never gain a pound. I was fortunate. I was also told it would catch up with me one day. And it did. Through no fault of my own, it started to slow as I neared the age of 40. I soon found that eating anything I ever wanted was no longer a good idea.

The first step in learning how to make our metabolisms start working faster is to figure out what in the world the metabolism is and what it actually does. In essence, it is how quickly our body can break down food and how fast it "runs" even when we are not doing anything. The more muscle mass one has, the faster their metabolism will run. In fact, for every pound of muscle one has, their metabolism will burn six calories a day.

Obviously, building muscle is key. Weight lifting is important, but so is high-intensity cardio. But in addition to just exercising, there are other things to do to keep that metabolism moving and grooving.

Drinking plenty of water is crucial. Water helps process calories. When you are dehydrated your body actually slows down. Staying hydrated helps keep the metabolism moving as it should.

Eating healthy meals with healthy satisfying snacks in between is actually beneficial, because the metabolism never gets a chance to stop working. However, it is not enough just to eat often. There are foods that actually make that metabolism work even harder.

Oatmeal is a great place to start. It is jam-packed full of fat soluble fiber, which means a bunch of calories are needed to break it down. Add a grapefruit to that breakfast and you are now reducing insulin levels. Lower insulin levels means the body will break down food more quickly. Sip on some green tea and now you are actually downing a beverage scientifically proven to help increase metabolism.

Proteins are important in building muscle. We now know that the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn just by "hanging out." Lean chicken, turkey and beef require a lot of energy to break down. So it is a win-win situation when you want to eat grilled chicken or a turkey burger at lunch. Order a side of broccoli. It is full of calcium and vitamin C. When those two are paired together they are like the dynamic duo. Calcium activates the metabolism, while vitamin C helps to absorb the calcium. They work together to burn up those calories.

Hungry for a little snack? Try some almonds and Greek yogurt. Almonds are great at boosting metabolism and are full of fatty acids — the kinds of fatty acids that are good for you. And that Greek yogurt is a great food to eat if you are looking to lose weight. It is super high in protein and works well as a snack that will leave you feeling satisfied.

And those of you who love some spice: get excited. Hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which helps to spike your metabolism even hours after you are done eating.

Whether your age is slowing your metabolism or you never had much of one to start with, there are several things you can do — and eat — to get it moving. So go chow down!

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