Cynthia Sass, nutrition director of Prevention magazine and co-author of the book "Flat Belly Diet," visited The Early Show Tuesday with insight on the mystery of metabolism:
Starting after the age of 40, we burn two-to-five percent fewer calories with each decade, and it tends to result in about a one pound weight gain every year. The good news is there's a lot you can do to fight that, including consuming food and drinks that can boost up your calorie burning.
But beware: Google the word "metabolism" and you'll find nearly 45 million Web pages coming back -- with advice on how to "speed up," "ignite," "kick-start," and "boost" your body's fat-burning capacity -- the majority of which are myths.
Still, simple tweaks to your daily routine can increase the number of calories you burn and compensate for the deficit.
Here's the truth about getting your metabolism to help you keep off unwanted pounds:
True or False? Drinking the right amount of water can help you burn more calories.
True: Different studies have suggested that five or six ice cold glasses of water could help you burn about 10 extra calories a day -- equaling about one pound of nearly effortless weight loss each year.
Tip: Although the metabolism-boosting effects are small, it can't hurt to pour no-cal drinks -- water, tea, coffee -- on the rocks to maximize your body's calorie-burning potential.
True or False? Dieting drops your resting metabolic rate, making it harder to keep weight off.
True: For every pound you lose, your resting metabolism drops by about two to 10 calories a day. Lose 10 pounds, and you now have to eat 20 to 100 fewer calories to maintain your trimmer physique, before factoring in exercise. However, you can prevent your metabolic rate from slipping while you get slim -- by maintaining muscle through things such as strength training.
True or False? "Hot" foods will fire up metabolism.
True. Capsaicin, the bioactive compound that makes chili peppers exude heat, can turn your metabolism up a notch while also enhancing the feeling of fullness and reducing hunger. Studies show that eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper -- equal to 30 mg. of capsaicin -- resulted in a temporary 23 percent boost in metabolism.
Tip: Sprinkle red pepper flakes onto pasta dishes and into chilis and stew; fresh chili peppers also work well in salsas and add a fiery flavor to many other dishes.
True or False? Celery is a "negative-calorie food" because digesting it uses more calories than it provides.
False. The thermic effect of food causes your body to burn up calories as it processes meals, snacks, and beverages. But this process accounts for anywhere from 0 to 30 percent of the calories you eat. A medium-sized rib of celery has only about six calories; its TEF is approximately half-a-calorie. In reality, "negative calorie foods" are wishful thinking.
Tip: Include celery as a low-cal but filling addition to salads, stir-fries, and soups; you can't depend on it to magically melt away your trouble spots. But it is healthy: Celery has phtalides, compounds that can help reduce blood pressure.
Your body burns more calories digesting ice-cold beverages.
Eating more protein will help rev up your metabolism.
Eating a grapefruit before every meal helps you lose weight (though not by hiking your metabolism).
Lifting weights boosts your metabolism more than a cardio workout.
Tea revs up your natural calorie burn.
PMS cravings are related to the boost in metabolism before your period.
If you have limited time, exercise at a higher intensity for a metabolic after-burn.
For much more on all this, from Prevention magazine, click here.