ANNOYING BUT TRUE: Your metabolism can dip by as much as 200 calories per day starting in your mid-20s. If last year's jeans are a little tighter, don't panic and starting slashing calories-that will only make things worse. Instead, try a smarter approach to losing fat while building muscle-essential for healthy weight loss. Here are seven tips that will help rev your metabolism (even while you're sleeping!) and burn up to an extra 500 calories a day. That's enough to double your weight loss and drop a size this month!
1. Take your workout outside (especially if there's a breeze).
If you've been hitting the treadmill in the air-conditioning, fall is a perfect time to get back outdoors before winter sends you scurrying inside. An even better reason: Research finds that exercisers burn 10% more calories when they walk or run outdoors than they do on a treadmill at the same speed. Not only do you use more energy to propel yourself over the ground, but the weather itself helps: Pushing a little against the wind or other elements burns more calories too.
You may want to skip this step to save time (I know I have), but you're wasting a calorie-burning moment. Getting a proper warm-up raises your core body temperature and increases the activity of fat-burning enzymes, according to exercise physiologists at Pennsylvania State University. For each degree your body temp goes up, the metabolic rate inside your cells increases by about 13%. Warm up by doing your activity at an easy to moderate intensity for at least 5 minutes to gradually raise your heart rate, send blood to your working muscles, ramp up your respiration, and get the maximum boost in metabolism and calorie burn.
3. Follow the 12-minute rule.
Any amount of cardio will burn calories, but to really fight off pounds, you need at least 12 minutes (beyond a warm-up) of continuously moderate to high-intensity activity (where you're breathing somewhat hard) most days a week. That's the time it takes to create a training effect, which improves your body's ability to use oxygen and generate more fat-burning enzymes, such as lipase, so you can blast more flab during exercise-and even while doing everyday activities.
4. Commit to intervals.
Studies show that weight loss plans with bursts of high-intensity activity can boost your calorie burn more than steady-paced training. Interval training increases the mitochondrial activity in the muscle, which is a scientific way of saying it increases your cells' fat-burning capacity. Because intervals are harder than one-speed workouts, it takes more time for your body to return to normal afterward, so your metabolism stays elevated longer. In a College of New Jersey study of 48 men and women, researchers found that those who rode stationary bikes at varying intensities, such as pedaling just a little harder for 5 minutes and then a little easier for 5 minutes over a half-hour workout, burned about 15% more calories for about 30 minutes afterward than their peers who stuck to one moderate pace the entire time.
5. Devote 1 hour, once a week.
Going longer gives you a big metabolic boost because when you're finished, your body has to reach into its reserves and expend a lot of energy replenishing its fuel stores and repairing broken-down muscle fibers. In one small study, researchers at the University of Victoria in British Columbia found that exercisers who chugged along for 60 minutes burned nearly 5 times as many calories postworkout as those who did only 30 minutes of activity.
6. Grab the heavy dumbbells.
Even when exercisers lifted identical volumes (such as 10 pounds 10 times or 20 pounds 5 times), those using the heavier dumbbells burned about 25% more calories when they were finished. The reason: Heavy weights break down more protein in the muscle, so your body has to use more energy to repair and recover--that's how lean muscle tissue is built. And the boost can last long after you've put the dumbbells away. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that working out with heavy weights even for as few as 3 to 6 reps increased exercisers' sleeping metabolic rate-the number of calories burned overnight--by nearly 8%. That's enough to lose about 5 pounds in a year, even if you did nothing else.
7. Move more all day.
You can burn up to 350 extra calories daily-enough to shed more than 35 pounds this year-simply by pacing while you chat on the phone, getting up to talk to a coworker rather than e-mailing a few times a day, and walking rather than driving for short errands.
More Fat-Burning, Energy-Boosting Tips From Prevention:
8 Slim-Down Tricks From The Biggest Loser Trainers
Lose Those Stubborn Last 10 Pounds
6 Workout Mistakes That Slow Down Results
Turn Your Favorite Foods Into Fat Burners
Be your own Biggest Loser and keep your brain sharp with exercise! Sign up today for meal plans, exercises, tools, support and more! Join the club today and get 3 FREE books!
Let yourself indulge in too much ice cream, barbecue and summer treats? Start your fall on the right foot. Lose weight with Liz and 2-Week Turnaround!