Eat less, exercise more.That’s the simple solution to anyone’s weight loss questions. But if it were that easy, more people would be in great shape. Turns out, some of your other behaviors play a big role in fat loss. Try these 20 tips — including several surprises — to fire up your metabolism and speed your lean body transformation.
Have a Plan
The old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Have a realistic goal and set specific targets for your week to reach that goal, says Emma-Leigh Synnott, an exercise, nutrition and metabolism specialist. However, make sure that you don’t end up being too strict with yourself. Life is about more than your diet. So be sure to find that balance between reaching your goal and enjoying the moment, too.
Sleep does more than help your body recover from a long day — it actually helps you fight fat. In fact, researchers at the University of Chicago reported that sleeping less than seven to eight hours each night can increase your appetite (forcing you to overeat), slow your metabolism (causing you to burn fewer calories) and make your body retain more abdominal fat. Need another reason to sleep more? Lack of shuteye is also associated with bad workouts. Do yourself a favor and get some rest. Your body will thank you.
Cut Out Snacks
Yes, some people benefit from eating four to six meals per day and enjoying snacks. But researchers from Purdue University found that the snacking method could be sabotaging your efforts. That’s because the average snack has increased by 200 calories over the last 30 years to almost 600 calories. If you have trouble with portion sizes, reduce the number of meals you eat.
Know How Much You Are Eating
Part one of the energy equation is to simply restrict your fuel intake. But unfortunately, most people don't do well with this. Research has shown that most people grossly underestimate how much they are eating, sometimes by up to 50 percent! You can track what you eating in a number of ways, such as using MyPlate. In whatever system you use, though, consistency and accuracy are key.
Move More (LOTS more!)
This is, essentially, the second half of the equation -- the calories-out side. Unfortunately, most people struggle with this process. In today’s society, we are largely sedentary: We travel in cars, we work in front of computers all day and we relax in front of the television. To see the greatest benefits, Synnott says to add incidental exercise (such as taking the stairs or tapping your foot) in addition to formal activity (such as playing sports, lifting weights or running).
Remove Liquid Calories
You want the truth: 65 percent of Americans drink beverages that are heavy in calories. Not only are these drinks less likely to keep you full, thus leaving you hungry, they are often loaded with sugar.
Plan a Cheat Day
Going on a diet is tough on you, both mentally and physically. That’s why a cheat day is a frequent part of many successful diet plans. The splurge gives you a break from your restrictive habits and will keep you satisfied while still losing weight.
Lift Heavy Weights
Whether you’re a man or a woman, the fastest way to burn fat faster is by lifting heavy weights. Not only do heavier weights activate more muscle fibers, they also increase your resting metabolism. In other words, when you lift heavy weights, you continue to burn calories at a higher rate, even when you’re doing nothing!
Make Yourself Accountable
Surround yourself with tools to help you with your journey. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Join an online community. Let people know your goals and ask for their support in helping you achieve them. The more supported you are, the better.
Add Workout Variety
For a high-impact workout that will kick up your metabolism in a short amount of time, try alternating cardio and resistance training in a circuit, Smith suggests. For example, start with five minutes of cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical) immediately followed by a dumbbell circuit of cleans, cleans and press, lunges, military presses and bent-over rows, where each exercise is performed for eight repetitions. This entire circuit can be repeated two to three times.
Practice Carb Swapping
Carb swapping is one of the easiest (and fastest) ways to jump-start weight loss. Replace foods such as pasta, rice and bread with fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables have fewer calories and carbohydrates than their processed counterparts. That means you can eat more total food without adding weight.
Use Simple Tools
You don't need to get on one of those fancy elliptical machines or treadmills. A $10 jump rope is highly effective as part of your warm-up, and as a way to get good-quality intensity into your workout, says Jim Smith, creator of DieselSC.com. Stay light on your feet and control your breathing as you try to hit 50 jumps, 100 jumps or more without messing up.
Rest Less During Exercise
There are many essential variables that must be managed when structuring your workout, one of them being rest. The rest periods you take between exercises can be modified to elicit a fat-burning effect, Smith says. By shortening the time you take between exercises to as little as 10 to 30 seconds, you can increase your resting metabolism and the intensity of your workout.
Try Combination Exercises
Linking two to three different exercises together into a chain of movements is a great way to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. This is the key to improving your workout efficiency and to positively affecting your fat-loss goals, Smith says. Combos such as linking a pushup and a burpee into a pull-up are an example of this technique.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Considered one of the more controversial eating habits, intermittent fasting combines long breaks from eating (14 to 16 hours) with a shorter feeding period (eight to 10 hours), or fasting for 24 hours once per week. While the behaviors might seem extreme, research indicates that this method not only is linked to healthy weight loss, but it also preserves muscle mass. The technique works well for people who prefer eating just two to three times per day.
Eat More Fat
Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends that a diet be made up of 25 to 35 percent fat? Turns out, high-fat foods such as nuts, avocados and healthy oils can help you lose fat faster than other diet approaches. Just make sure you figure out how much fat you need in your diet to prevent yourself from overeating. And, as always, avoid the trans fats. They’re still not healthy.
Eat More Protein
Protein helps you maintain lean body mass (muscle, not fat), and increase the thermic effect of your diet. That is, protein requires more energy for your body to process than carbohydrates or fat. This can subtly contribute to the calories-out side of the energy equation. As a bonus, eating protein keeps you feel fuller longer, and researchers have shown that it can reduce how much you eat per day by hundreds of calories.
Become a Heavy Drinker
No we’re not talking about alcohol. While there’s nothing magical about water, the process of consuming lots of liquid can trick you into feeling less hungry. What’s more, when you’re dehydrated you burn 2 percent fewer calories per day, University of Utah researchers say. So if you struggle to control your appetite, drink up before your meal. Then drink some more. You’ll be more likely to fight off fat.
Drink Whey Protein
Your diet should primarily consist of whole-food sources such as meats, veggies, fruits and nuts. However, research published in the "Journal of Nutrition" found that those who consume whey-protein shakes lost almost twice as much fat as those who didn’t have the shakes. Magic? Hardly. The protein in shakes isn’t any more effective than protein found in solid meals. Most people don’t get enough protein in their diets, however, and the shakes are a convenient way to meet your body’s needs, the researchers suggest.
Be Patient and Give Yourself Time
You didn’t gain weight overnight, so you will not take it off overnight either. Give yourself time and know that the weight will come off if you stick to your plan.