By Leta Shy for POPSUGAR Fitness
If you’re looking for a way to burn more calories without much more effort, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how you can boost your fat burn ASAP:
Cardio is crucial for keeping your metabolism running smoothly. In one study, researchers found that cyclers increased their metabolism for 14 hours after a tough 45-minute workout. “If you do just two to three vigorous bouts of exercise per week for 45 minutes, you could lose a pound of fat every two weeks from the combination of calories expended during exercise plus what you burn afterward,” says study author David Nieman, a doctor of public health and professor of exercise science at Appalachian State University.
After a long night of fasting, your body needs fuel to rev up its metabolism. Skipping breakfast can slow down your body’s ability to burn fat as it tries to conserve energy, so make sure you eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of waking up. You can make these healthy breakfast recipes the night before if you find you’re skipping breakfast because you’re too rushed to prep in the morning.
Schedule in Exercise
Exercise doesn’t just burn calories—it actually changes your DNA to boost your metabolism immediately. Experts recommend up to an hour to see these benefits. To make absolutely sure you squeeze in these sweat sessions, schedule them ahead of time.
Don’t Skip Meals
You might think that passing on dinner would translate to a slimmer waistline, but it does just the opposite. Skipping meals can make your body think it’s starving so it stores extra calories instead of burning them. Eat up to six small meals a day to fend off hunger, keep blood-sugar levels steady, and help your metabolism function properly.
Stress can do more than drive you crazy—it can actually slow down your metabolism. The stress hormone cortisol is the culprit: When levels are too high, it inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat. Take a few moments to breathe deeply or flow through a calming yoga sequence to keep your metabolism in check.
Do a Mini-Workout
Short on time? You can still fit in enough exercise to burn 200 calories. A recent study showed that a very short burst of intense exercise (2.5 minutes’ worth) can lead to an after-burn of 200 calories throughout the day. So even if you don’t have time for a full workout, working up a sweat for a just few minutes is a lot better than nothing!
Snack Before Bed
This isn’t a joke. A 100- to 200-calorie bedtime snack may help keep your metabolism cranking so you burn more calories while you sleep!
Eat Whole Grains
Packed with fiber, whole grains such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, oats, and millet fill you up more than other foods with the same number of calories. This doesn’t just leave you with less room for second helpings, though. High-fiber foods tend to be more difficult to chew. And when your mouth works harder, the act of eating in and of itself can burn up to 10 percent more calories.
Mix Up Your Routine With Intervals
If you log cardio at the same pace every day, you could be making better use of your time. Adding high-intensity intervals into your cardio will help burn more calories during each sweat session. This pyramid treadmill interval workout is a great place to start.
Spice Up Your Food
Cayenne pepper is known for its pungent flavor and healing powers, but the spice can also boost your metabolism by increasing your body’s core temperature. Don’t worry about smothering your food in hot sauce—a small amount goes a long way.
Muscle is a fat-burning powerhouse, so stick to your strength-training routine. Aim for 120 minutes of strength sessions a week: Try this total-body workout circuit with weights to build muscle, or do this TRX workout the next time you hit the gym.
Indulge With Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a healthy dessert for many reasons. One of them: It can boost your metabolism, thanks to two of its ingredients: caffeine and the antioxidant catechin. Just make sure you stick to a small square a day so the sugar and calories don’t negate dark chocolate’s fat-burning potential.
Add this warm spice to any food to pep up your metabolism. Some ideas: Put some on a slice of whole-wheat toast, in your bowl of oatmeal, or onto soup.
Click HERE for 12 more ways to boost your metabolism from POPSUGAR FITNESS!