Having a lab test indicate you’re made out of jelly could send a girl off on a juice-cleanse bender, but that would actually slow your metabolism. “If you’re on a very low-cal regimen — in the 400- to 800-calorie-a-day range — metabolism falls by 15 to 20 percent,” says David Nieman, PhD, professor of exercise science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Eating less than 900 calories a day also prompts your body to burn muscle tissue as well as fat, which lowers your metabolic rate even more.

Stick with the 1,200- to 1,500-calorie a day range, Nieman suggests, and you’ll still slim down without taking such a big bite out of your metabolism. “What’s more, about 90 percent of the weight you lose will be fat,” he says, sparing more of that calorie-burning muscle.
Another metabolism no-no that women are guilty of is ditching meals, Neiman says. “If you skip meals, you put yourself on that path toward fasting, which signals the metabolism to slow way down,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Dr. Heber warns me to get more protein to help preserve the lean mass that’s my metabolism workhorse. He recommends the higher end for me: 100 grams of protein a day from such foods as white meats, fish, egg whites, and soy, starting with breakfast. “Studies show that people who eat a high-protein breakfast control their hunger longer and their weight better,” says Dr. Heber, who is the author of sensible diet books, including What Color Is Your Diet? I promptly replace my cornflake habit with egg-white omelets and the occasional whey-powder-injected pancakes.
“Think of your body as a Ferrari,” says trainer Ghadery when I tell him I’ve turned over a new leaf with protein. “You don’t put cheap gas in a vehicle like that.”


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