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Published on November 27, 2017

teriyaki salmon

Three Tips to Optimize Metabolism

When midlife hits, and maybe even before, many women notice that managing their weight gets a little harder.

You may wonder if it has to do with your metabolism slowing down. This is the process in which your body converts your food and drink into energy. Your size, sex and age can affect your metabolism in addition to physical activity and your ability to process food.

There are a number of things you can do to help your metabolism, said Annie Ailts, MS, RDN, LN an Avera Medical Group Functional Medicine registered dietitian.

  1. Say yes to whole foods. Unprocessed, whole foods such as healthy fats, fish, vegetables, fruits and other meats are more nutrient dense to keep your body working most efficiently.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast, or any other meal. “One of the biggest things is not what you’re eating but when you’re eating,” Ailts said. “It’s important not to skip meals, especially breakfast.” People often skip meals to cut calories but in reality this method of weight loss can reduce metabolism. Ailts recommends not going more than four or five hours without a meal or healthy snack.
  3. Don’t skimp on fat and protein. Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy but the effect can mean a spike in blood sugar and a subsequent crash.

“That type of rollercoaster can be really hard on your entire body,” Ailts said.

Instead, pair carbs with protein and a healthy fat to help stabilize blood sugar. It will also help you abstain from overeating and keep you feeling full longer.

Helping your body run efficiently is important, but these tips also help you eat a wholesome healthful diet. If you’re troubled by weight gain, a number of factors could be in play ranging from hormones to your genetics or your diet and lifestyle. The best way to manage your weight is still eating a healthy diet and staying active, Ailts said.

Try these recipes for meals that combine the basics: whole foods with a mix of protein, healthy fat and carbohydrate.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves: 4


  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ½ teaspoons curry powder or curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 13-ounce can coconut milk
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 - 3 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • Recommended accompaniments: cauliflower rice or basmati rice, fresh cilantro


  1. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Cook chicken (until no longer pink) in a large skillet with onion, garlic, curry powder, and salt.
  2. Add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes, and spinach to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 5 – 10 minutes. Serve with rice or cauliflower rice and season with fresh cilantro.

Teriyaki Baked Salmon

Serves: 2-3


  • 1 12-ounce salmon fillet, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place salmon fillet, skin-side down on parchment paper.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and evenly spread over salmon.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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