Jul 29, 2009
Fidget. Studies show that lean people fidget for about 150 minutes a day more than obese people do. That kind of low-grade activity (tapping feet and fingers, twirling hair, gesturing while speaking, etc.) can burn 350 calories a day, which translates into 10-30 pounds a year! It's called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which is basically any movement that isn't intended as exercise. You can burn an extra 100-150 calories an hour by increasing NEAT.
Here are some ideas:
Standing burns 50% more calories than sitting. Stand while talking on the phone, using the computer, or reading the paper. Pacing is even better. By pacing, you can burn 90 more calories an hour than if you were sitting still. Make it a habit to pace whenever you use the phone. Buy a work station or desk that you can stand at or, if you can, set up a desk over a treadmill. By walking 1 mile an hour while you work, you'll burn an additional 100 calories per hour which, if you do this for 2-3 hours a day, you could lose 44-60 pounds in a year. It's recommended that you start slowly, though, walking 15 minutes every hour and then increasing gradually. Alternatively, you can use a mini-stepper under a tall desk, or while watching TV to achieve the same results.
Reach for the caffeine, pass on the sugar and cream. Caffeine tends to increase the number of calories you burn, probably because they stimulate thermogenesis — one way your body generates heat and energy from digesting food and because the boost in energy means you move around more (which means more calories burned). Having 250 milligrams of caffeine with a meal can increase the calories spent metabolizing the meal by 10%. Green tea, in particular, seems to be especially conducive to burning calories. So instead of having soda or any other calorie-laden drink with your meals, go for an unsweetened cup of coffee or tea. Skip the sugar, milk, cream, or any other caloric enhancements so that you don't replace the extra calories you're burning. Drinking coffee or tea plain will take some getting used to, but purchasing high-quality beans or tea leaves will certainly help.
Increase your after-meal burn by eating more vegetables and phasing out meat and dairy products. Your body expends around 200 calories to digest your food. People who eat fibrous fruit, vegetables, complex carbs, and low-fat meat burn even more calories after they eat. In fact, vegetarians generally have a bigger after-meal burn than their omnivorous counterparts. And no matter what you eat, adding 5g of Tabasco sauce to any meal can raise your metabolism by 12-20 percent for up to two hours after you're done. This is caused by capsaicin - the nutrient that makes chile peppers hot. Drink lemon juice in lukewarm water. This formulation gets more effective when done on an empty stomach.
Drink ice water. The colder the water you drink, the more calories you burn, since your body expends more energy warming up the water. If you have 8 glasses (64 oz) of ice-cold water in a day, you'll burn 70 more calories than if you drank 8 glasses of a body temperature beverage. In fact, this principle will work with any calorie-free beverage, as long as it's ice cold, so you might want to ice up that coffee and tea mentioned earlier for cumulative calorie-burning effects. Keep in mind, however, that the weight loss impact of this one particular practice isn't drastic: It would take 435 glasses of ice water (about two months, assuming 8 glasses a day) to lose one pound. And, don't go overboard. There's such a thing as water toxicity. Follow the guidelines in How to Drink More Water Every Day.
Chill out. Shivering burns calories, so if you can spend more time outside when it's cold, you'll crank up the calorie furnace. Even if you don't shiver, though, you can get a 3-7% increase in calorie burn just from your body warming itself (similar to the principle at work when you drink ice water). Just don't run away with this idea and get yourself sick! The first steps towards weigh loss must include both Diet and Exercise. The simple tips listed above will not lead you to lose weight substantially, if your diet does not reflect the change.
As with any weight-loss behavior or diet you adopt, speak first with your doctor. Get professional advice when deciding to change your fitness regimen or diet. These tips are meant as just that--tips, they are not meant to provide a comprehensive weight-loss plan.
While some little things certainly help burn extra calories, do not think they are an easy way out. For instance, caffeine might help you metabolize a little more after a big meal, but it might also very quickly be detrimental to your health, especially if you start thinking along the lines of "oh well, if 250 mg will burn an extra 10%, let's go for 500 mg and have an extra bag of crisps". You may end up experiencing tachycardia, trembling hands and insomnia long before you start going down a size. And no amount of getting yourself frozen can ever replace a healthy diet. Those tips are just ways of boosting your dieting efforts, so DO NOT take them to the extreme in order to have a good excuse for not dieting properly. This would only ruin your health. Which leads to the second point...
Posted by Jane at Wednesday, July 29, 2009 |