Habits that slow down your metabolism.

It is a generally accepted fact that your metabolism slows as you age. Recent studies published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal backs this up with science. There are however other habits that you may have that increase this slowing. Drop some of these habits to take the fight back to the ageing process.

Skipping Breakfast.

During sleep the metabolism slows, breakfast is known to kick start it again. Though potentially counter intuitive, eating first thing in the morning can actually cause you to burn more calories during the day. When you eat breakfast you are letting your body know that there are many calories coming throughout the day, thereby telling it to start burning them. If you skip breakfast you are instead saying to your body that it should conserve energy as it may not be getting fed.

Choosing the wrong breakfast though, can also be a mistake. Try to avoid having an overly sugary breakfast a this will likely cause you to crash later in the day. Try going for a high protein or fibre breakfast such as eggs or whole-wheat toast.

Sitting too much.

Spending long periods sat down not only causes problems in that it does not allow you to get much exercise; it is also thought to directly lead to a slower metabolism. If you work in a sedentary job, sat at a desk all day, try to get up and have a bit of a walk every hour or so. Similarly, consider whether you need to go from couch to car or if you could instead walk to your destination.

Too little protein.

Protein is very important for your muscles, it is the food they need to maintain themselves. Muscle is very important to metabolism, in fact, it is known that metabolism is directly linked to muscle mass. A pound of muscle burns around 4-6 more calories per day than a pound of fat. Therefore it is a no-brainer to keep your muscles in tip-top shape, this means giving them all the protein they need. If you are finding it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, or build muscle mass, consider whether you are getting enough protein in your diet.

A lack of water.

As I have mentioned before, water is miraculous in what it can do to our bodies. Researchers have found that 500 millilitres of water can increase metabolic rate by up to 30%, with that spike lasting over an hour. Keeping yourself hydrated also comes with this calorie burning benefit.

Stress.

Stress can cause all manner of problems, not least a reduction in metabolic rate. This reduction is caused by the increase in Cortisol that comes from higher levels of stress. Cortisol increases our cravings for sugary foods, and decreases our motivation to exercise. Both of these, as already discussed, have a direct bearing on our metabolic rate. So, although stress does not itself decrease the metabolism, it leads to behaviours that are known to.

Although it is not always easy easy to control stress levels, and no-one gets stressed because they want to; managing stress can really help boost your metabolism.

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My food day.

There is a lot of press around these days about what you should and should not eat. Warnings about the levels of fat, or salt, or sugar or whatever else may have some negative effects; maybe. I will absolutely not argue that a diet of wine, cheese and processed meats is not great for you. What I will argue however is that there are benefits other than the easily measurable physiological ones. The joy of eating a grilled cheese sandwich, or some chocolate for instance; will leave you feeling happy. Something that has a high level of value, for me anyway. That isn’t to say that I don’t think you should try to be healthy with your food, just that there are more things to think about.

I eat a very small amount of red meat during the week in general, in part because of living on my own and the difficulty in getting reasonable portions for one person. But I have no issue in eating red meat, in fact I enjoy it greatly. Every Saturday my parents come around for chilli con carne, which of course contains beef.

Below is an example of a typical day’s food for me.

Breakfast

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on crumpets.

A glass of fruit juice and a cup of coffee.

Lunch

I rarely eat much for lunch when I’m not at work, I’ll usually stick to something quick and simple such as Soup and crusty bread.

Dinner

If I only had a small meal at lunch time then I will have something more substantial for dinner. Some sort of pasta dish is common, often with some variety of fish.

Snacks

I do of course get hungry between meals on occasion, and although I do like things such as chocolate I try to avoid eating them too often.

One of my favourite go to snacks is houmous with either carrot sticks or sugarsnap peas.

This is just an example of what I would eat on any given day. I’m not saying it is the best diet, nor is it something that would work for everybody. It just happens to work for me.

I think the best thing for anyone to do when looking at their diet is to pay attention to what your body is telling you. The recommended diet is designed for the average person, and in my experience the average person doesn’t exist. Eat and drink what you like, in moderation. If you notice yourself putting on some unwanted weight, change things. The same if you find you are not feeling well, or if your physical performance is suffering.

No one knows your body better than you.

In music we trust.

I have recently been made aware of the clothing brand In music we trust. This is a UK based company that sells a range of awesome music themed clothing.

The difference between this brand and so many others, other than the quality of the designs, is that 50% of all profits are donated to Mind UK. Mind is a charity which I have talked about before. They provide support to those who are suffering with mental health issues and those who know someone who is.

In my opinion this is a very worthwhile charity to support and they are doing a fantastic job of raising the public awareness of mental health and helping to defeat the stigma attached to it.

Nothing I write here is going to do justice to the products sold at In music we trust. So please pop over there and take a look for yourself, or just go over to Mind UK and familiarise yourself with some of the great work they do on a daily basis. Also, if you haven’t already done so, check out my RED January logs; where I am running every day in January in support of Mind UK.

Thank you.

5 great plants to improve your indoors.

Most people are aware of the benefits of spending time outdoors, but did you know that you can get some of that goodness by bringing a slice of the outdoors in? Not only is it proven that having some greenery in the house is good for your mental well-being; having some of these plants can also make a physical difference too.

Here are some plants that can really improve your living.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera’s sticky gel is well known for its powerful anti-oxidant properties and can often be found in face washes and sun creams. But the plant as a whole is also brilliant at purifying the air in your house. It is capable of clearing the air of some of the potentially harmful chemicals found in many household cleaning products. It will even show you when the amounts of chemicals become to high as brown spots will appear on the fleshy parts of the plant.

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Peace Lily

The peace Lily is a really nice looking, low maintenance plant that is known to reduce the levels of toxins in the air. What more can you ask for?

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Snake plant

This is a great plant to add to your bedroom. As opposed to the majority of other plants, the Snake Plant will absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night not during the day. This allows it to keep the air quality in your bedroom high throughout the night. As a bonus, they need little in the way of light or water to survive.

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Bamboo Palm

Although requiring a reasonable amount of care to get these growing at their best, the Bamboo palm is both an attractive and useful plant. It is remarkably proficient at removing toxins such as benzine and trichloroethyline from the air. They do require a lot of watering and a shady position to thrive though.

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Golden Pothos

This plant is great at removing formaldehyde from the air. It is a perfect addition hanging in the kitchen or living room as it’s leaves will grow down in cascading vines.

Golden pothos or Epipremnum aureum at window in the bedroom home and garden

Green tea. Is it better than water?

Green tea has many of the same benefits as water, which you can read about here: The benefits of water according to science. But, it also has many other benefits.

Many of the plant compounds found in the tea leaves make it into the final drink, these compounds contain many important nutrients.

There are large amounts of catechins, which are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage as well as providing other benefits.
EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) is found in green tea, and has been found to treat a number of diseases.

Green tea, like all teas, contains caffeine; this is known to increase brain function. Where caffeine has been shown to increase conditions such as anxiety in some, the amino acid L-theanine is known to reduce it. Green tea contains large amounts of this important amino acid, which negates this potential downside of caffeine.

The combination of caffeine and L-theanine has been proven to have synergistic effects. The combination of the two being particularly potent at improving brain function.

Much like water, green tea is known to aid in fat reduction. It has the added benefit of the physical performance improvement gained by the caffeine.

So, if you are after a healthy drink that is not just plain old water. Give green tea a try.