Boost your calorie burn

Our essential guide to burning off those calories!

Weight loss is one of the most popular targets for people taking up and getting involved in exercise, because as everyone knows, working out burns calories. However, the type of exercise that you do plays a large part in how many calories you burn – plus there are several other strategies that you can employ in addition to exercise that will help to keep the pounds in check.

So if you’re looking to lighten up a little, then follow the realbuzz guide to boosting your calorie burn, which includes tips and advice on:

  • The science behind keeping the pounds at bay.
  • The best calorie-busting exercises.
  • Innovative ideas to enhance your weight loss

How you burn calories
Your metabolic rate (MR) is the rate at which your body burns calories – so the faster your MR is, the more calories you burn. Your body has three primary functions for burning calories:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR accounts for approximately 60% of your daily calorie burn, and is simply there to keep your body alive, irrespective of your activity levels.
  • Activity and exercise. The fuel that you require for your daily activities – from every small movements through to harder exercise – accounts for the next 30% of your calorie expenditure.
  • Thermogenesis. Every time you eat, digest, absorb and utilize food, heat is generated – which is referred to as the ‘thermogenic effect’. This meal-induced heat production accounts for the remaining 10% of your calorie expenditure.

The best way to lose weight is to employ strategies that continually target your BMR, activity levels and thermogenesis, so that you maximize your opportunities to burn calories in everything that you do.

Burning calories through exercise
Increasing your activity levels is the best way of boosting your calorie burn, but it is important to do the most effective types of exercise so that you maximize your results. Here are some great forms of exercise to try:

  • Aerobic exercise. Any form of exercise that gets your heart working a little bit harder and makes you slightly breathless is good. You should target a minimum of 20 minutes’ continuous activity. Remember, though, that not all exercise is equal, because 30 minutes on an exercise bike does not equate to jogging for 30 minutes. This is because any activity that requires you to support your own bodyweight throughout your workout will burn more fuel than an activity where your bodyweight is supported. So, when choosing an aerobic exercise activity, ideally you should look to do an exercise such as running or jogging, rather than swimming or rowing.
  • Resistance training. Working out in the gym with weights has long been perceived as the preserve of bodybuilders, but toning up and increasing your muscle mass a little will burn off a lot of calories and will do wonders for your figure. The reason that resistance training is so beneficial for calorie burning is that the energy cost of carrying a greater muscle mass is far more than the energy cost for other body tissues – plus resistance training accelerates your BMR by as much as 15%. Adding as little as half a kilo of muscle to your body will burn the equivalent of two and a half kilos of body fat annually!
  • Get active! In addition to more structured forms of exercise, there is plenty you can do day-to-day that will burn off the pounds. Basically, the more sedentary you are, the fewer calories you burn – so seek out ways of being more active and you’ll contribute to your overall strategy of keeping your MR high.

Make your exercise work for you
In addition to doing the most effective forms of exercise, rather than going through your ‘standard gym workout’, try the following calorie-burning ideas:

  • Go long. Essentially, the more exercise you do, the more fuel is required – so simply adding on a few minutes to each aerobic session will make you fitter and burn more calories at the same time.
  • Go intense. The tougher your workout, the more calories you’ll burn – so if you increase the intensity of your sessions, you’ll be rewarded not only by using more calories during your workout, but also afterwards. Calories will be burned for a longer period of time after a more intense workout, as your MR will be elevated for longer afterwards.

Calorie-burning ‘get active’ ideas
Basically, the more activities and exercise you do, the more calories will be used up, because every activity that you do requires fuel. Try some of the following ideas to give your metabolic engine a boost:

  • Walk around when you are on the telephone.
  • Hold ‘standing up’ meetings – you’ll also find that they’re quicker because people want to sit down!
  • Change position often when seated.
  • Regularly stretch your muscles to both reduce tension and reactivate the muscles so that they burn more fuel.
  • Occasionally give labor-saving gadgets a miss – such as the dishwasher and tumble dryer – and do the tasks yourself.
  • If a journey is less than one mile, refuse to use the car and walk or cycle instead. It’ll only take a few minutes longer.
  • If you’re lying down, sit up. If you’re sitting, stand up. If you’re standing, move around!

Eating strategies for calorie burning
Obviously, if you’re trying to lose weight you’ll be avoiding ‘empty’ calorie foods (foods that contain little, if any, nutritional value to your diet) such as sugary foods and high-fat energy-dense products – but there are additional ways that you can kick-start your metabolism to influence your calorie burn:

  • Eat hot. Hot and spicy foods such as hot curries and chillis can elevate your metabolic rate by as much as 50% for up to three hours after you’ve finished your meal – so a low-fat chili con carne is an excellent calorie burner!
  • Eat frequently. Eating initiates the thermogenic effect – and there is evidence that by eating smaller and more frequent meals during the day, rather than eating three large meals, thermogenesis will be enhanced and you will burn more calories.

Calorie burn little and often
In isolation, all the above strategies to increase your energy-burning rate will contribute to helping you to get rid of more calories – but to really get your metabolic engine running fast, use as many of them as possible. The key is to ‘think calorie burning’ in everything that you do, so that you make food and activity choices an integral part of your life. After this, effective weight management becomes easy!

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