Try These Calorie-torching Tips to Lose Weight Faster

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Our diet expert is Ian K. Smith, M.D., founder of the 50 Million Pound Challenge and author of EAT (St. Martin's Press, 2011)

Think of your metabolism as your body's furnace, converting the calories you consume into energy your body needs to function. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories, burn more calories, or both. Genes, gender and age (Your metabolism naturally slows down about 5 percent each decade after age 40) affect metabolism, but you can speed it up with a few smart strategies.

1. Move—a lot—and get enough sleep: Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, more if you're trying to lose weight. If you don't have time for a longer workout, 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day will do the trick. Any extra movement counts, so take the stairs whenever possible. Skimping on sleep can affect metabolism, so aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

2. Pick protein: The body uses more calories to digest protein than fat or carbohydrates. That's why replacing some—not all—carbs with low-fat, protein-rich foods can help ramp up your metabolism at mealtime. Good sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, chicken, tofu, nuts (go easy on portions), beans, eggs and low-fat dairy products.

3. Maximize muscle mass: Did you know that 1 pound of muscle burns 35 calories a day while 1 pound of fat burns just 2? It's true: even when you're sitting still, muscle burns more calories than fat. Be sure to make room in your workout routine for muscle-building exercises such as weight lifting.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions about the potential dangers of using body building products that contain anabolic steroids or steroid-like products—including serious liver damage, increased heart attack and stroke risk, and others. Talk to your health care provider before taking any dietary supplements.

4. Eat less, more often: Eating more frequently can actually help you lose weight. When you consume large meals with long breaks during which you don't eat, your metabolism slows down. A small meal or healthy snack (150 calories or so) every three to four hours keeps your metabolism humming, so you burn more calories over the course of a day. Several studies have also shown that people who eat healthy snacks regularly eat less at mealtime. Just remember to control portions and choose wisely.

5. Avoid crash diets: Weight-loss plans that call for fewer than 1,200 calories a day may help you drop pounds, but you'll lose mostly muscle. And remember: The lower your muscle mass, the slower your metabolism.

6. Stay skeptical: Cold water, spicy foods and green tea have all been said to increase metabolism, but studies haven't yet substantiated claims. And steer clear of weight-loss products and supplements that claim to boost metabolism. Supplement manufacturers aren't required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prove their products are safe or effective, and some may be dangerous. Always talk to your health care provider before trying supplements.

Adapted from our sister publication REMEDY's Healthy Living Winter 2012; Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 21 Nov 2012

Last Modified: 19 Mar 2015