By Denise Austin
Trying to shed pounds? A few changes to your routine can help boost your metabolism and optimize your daily caloric burn, moving you that much closer to weight loss success!
I always caution people that there are no quick fixes to weight loss, and that's true. Hard work, time, and dedication are what's needed to reach your goals - and to achieve permanent, life-changing results. But while slow and steady wins the race, there are still a few ways you can increase your body's calorie-burn rate. Try these tips to keep your metabolism humming at top speed during your workouts and throughout the day!
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Burning calories isn't only done during formal workouts; you can help increase daily caloric burn just by going about your normal tasks! Start by seizing every opportunity to move more throughout the day.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car at the end of the parking lot, take your dog for a longer walk, and get up and visit coworkers' desks instead of sending emails. Plan more activities -- such as playing soccer with your kids in the backyard or power-walking with friends at the mall -- that don't involve sitting still. If you think about it, there are plenty of reasons every day to get up and get moving!
Burning fat efficiently boils down to one thing -- building more muscle! A major key to revving up your metabolism is muscle mass. The reason? Muscles demand more energy from your body than fat does; the more muscle you add to your body, therefore, the more calories you'll be burning throughout the day. So add about 15 minutes of strength training exercises -- like lifting dumbbells and or doing crunches, lunges and squats -- to your fitness plan two to three times a week, in addition to plenty of cardio.
Squeeze In Mini Workouts
Does a jam-packed schedule leave you no time for exercise? Don't worry, you can get a workout in without quitting your day job. Instead of trying to find a large block of time to exercise, break down your daily workouts into 10-minute mini sessions so they're easier to squeeze into your day. Whenever you have a few spare minutes, take a brisk walk around the block, do a set of pushups or perform a quick series of yoga stretches. By the end of the day, those short 10-minute breaks can add up to a whole hour of exercise!
Practice Portion Control
A few extra bites here and there may seem like no big deal, but think again! Not paying attention to portion size can completely sabotage a diet, no matter how strong your efforts -- all those extra calories can add up fast! If you've not sure what a sensible portion size is, it's a good time to revisit your measuring cups or to purchase a small food scale for your kitchen. In addition, never eat directly from a container, package, or carton -- you should always measure out one serving, put it on a plate or in a bowl, and put away the rest BEFORE you start eating!
Did you know that eating breakfast can help rein in your appetite for the rest of the day? Breakfast gives our bodies that all-important first energy boost, so we can make it through our day feeling great! But it also keeps us from snacking and overindulging at lunch and dinner. So start your day with a nutrient-packed meal like a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and a cup of tea or my delicious Breakfast Burrito. You'll keep your metabolism humming and your energy levels up.
Drink More H2O
Drinking more water is a simple change you can make right now. It requires no equipment and costs you absolutely nothing. So what are you waiting for? Start guzzling! Not only is hydrating your body with clean, fresh water vitally important for your health, but it can actually help you lose weight. We often mistake thirst of hunger, so upping your water intake will naturally help you feel more satisfied, curbing the urge to do any between-meal snacking. Make water more tasty and appealing by adding a wedge of fruit for a hint of sweetness.
Find The Fun In Fitness
Hitting the gym five times a week isn't for everyone! If you find yourself dreading your sweat session, it's time to find new activities that you enjoy. That's right, fitness can -- and should! -- be fun. Start by making a list of some physical activities that you enjoy or would like to try, such as trail hiking, mountain biking, swimming, swing dancing, golf, or skiing. Be creative, find a physical hobby that you like, and make it a new habit -- pretty soon, you'lll actually look forward to your workout!
Eat Small Snacks
Snacking doesn't have to be a dirty word for dieters. In fact, if you eat too little during the day or go too long without a snack, your body's metabolism will naturally slow down and burn less calories to conserve energy. Feed your body some calorie-burning fuel by munching on healthy snacks -- fruit, yogurt, nuts, veggies, sliced turkey or low-fat cheese -- every few hours. You'll keep your system running smoothly, and prevent yourself from getting too hungry and splurging later.