Excess weight is a burden and an element of distress that creeps up on us year after year; a demon that constantly has its toll on us as human beings. Being the incessant load everyone is trying to get off their shoulders (no pun intended), weight loss is an issue I am frequently asked about – how to lose weight and how to lose it fast. Whether it's long working hours that make you skip meals or busy social schedules that push you to having too many, there's always a reason people feel they're not losing weight as fast as they want to.  Well, my dear readers chalk it up to metabolism.

In the most basic terms, metabolism, a key player in your weight control efforts, is the rate at which you burn calories. It is mostly determined by your muscle-to-fat ratio, or body composition. The more muscle and the less fat you have, the higher your metabolism and the more calories you burn at rest, work, and play, simply because muscle burns more calories than fat. Genetics and hormones partly determine your metabolism as well, but even then, it is not set in stone. There are many ways to increase your metabolic rate, irrespective of your age or weight history. It will take work on your part, but with some motivation and effort, you should see the results you have always hoped for.

Emphasize exercise. I know you've heard this before, but you need to exercise. Why? Because working out builds muscle. And muscle speeds metabolism. Interval training is one of the best ways to boost your metabolism and burn more calories and fat.  Aerobic exercise, like walking, swimming, or cycling, has the added bonus of speeding up your metabolism for 4-8 hours after you stop exercising. Exercise in the morning and you will benefit with a faster metabolism throughout the day, or try short 10 or 15-minute episodes every few hours to keep your metabolism pumping.

Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals puts your body in starvation mode. So when you finally eat, your body will store the food rather than burn it as it doesn't know when you will feed it again. Space your meals 4 hours apart to support a constant caloric burn.

Eat a hearty breakfast. It is essential. Your body was deprived of food through the night; therefore, your metabolism has slowed. Your metabolism naturally slows down in the afternoon and evening, so avoid eating late at night.

Choose wisely. Certain foods can increase your metabolism. These include fish, lean meats, hot pepper, dark green vegetables, apples, and berries.  Not to mention water. Try to drink at least 8 glasses a day for better digestion and a flatter stomach. Green tea is the perfect ingredient to boost the rate at which you burn calories.

Finally, the most critical component of increasing metabolism and the Holy Grail of physical health is patience. Weight loss will take time. A reasonable timeframe to see some changes is about three months. My advice to you as a potential loser (no offense) is to pick one of the aforementioned metabolic stimulators, try it out, and then gradually add the rest. Your goal should be to incorporate these changes into your lifestyle to keep yourself healthier, stronger and slimmer for the rest of your life, and not for an upcoming social gathering. Keep in mind, weight is one of the few principles where clichés are valid; it's a lifestyle not a temporary glitch.

– Maryam AlHamad

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