If you want to ring in the New Year without weight gain or a stall in your health habits, never fear! The joyful season doesn’t need to sidetrack you or sabotage your success to date. Here are four simple ways you can burn fat – and three out of four are actually sweat-free. Most of these take very little, if any, additional time from your busy social calendar.
Drink more water.
Drink water to burn fat. Does that sound too simple? If it does, it’s because it’s only half the truth. The rest of the story is that your body under stress won’t burn fat. Dehydration is a stressor on your body. Your body produces cortisol under stress. Yes, that’s right. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a big deadline at work, a slightly tight Little Black Dress, or from dehydration: stress causes cortisol. Cortisol makes it hard for your body to burn fat and easier for your body to store it.
Increase your water wisely. Learning water can help you burn more fat without a sweat-fest that may tempt you to guzzle it. You’ll do your body more good by just modestly adding another half glass in the morning, afternoon and evening. Next week, once your body has adjusted, you can increase again. If you find yourself in the bathroom much too frequently, you may be increasing your fluids too quickly. Once your body gets adapted, it will use the water in the cells, and you won’t experience it running through you so fast that you need to know where every wash room is.
Dial up the spice.
Several spices have metabolic boosting powers. Cayenne, red pepper, and turmeric, in particular, can help fire up both your taste buds and your calorie burn. Ginger and cinnamon are two more. Sprinkle cinnamon liberally in smoothies, on oatmeal, or add to chili. Add fresh ginger to tea. Several other spices boost immunity, decrease inflammation and stabilize blood sugar, such that they, too, indirectly create better health and function so they enhance your metabolism. Add cumin, cayenne and red pepper to your chili to boost metabolism.
Of course, we’re not talking about calorie totals that will rival your treadmill time or will get you off the hook from a Zumba workout. Every little bit helps, though. If you spice up your life daily, you’re doing good in more ways than one. Highly flavorful foods can help increase satiety and may mean you’re satisfied with less.
Boost your fat burn with breakfast.
The right breakfast will help you torch fat all day. Everything you do is sending a message to your body. You’re either telling it to burn more calories or slow down and burn fewer. Skipping breakfast is like telling your body to burn fewer calories. However, you have to choose right in order for this to work. Start with a breakfast that includes 25-30 grams of protein for the best results. While carbohydrates at breakfast make you more likely to store fat and crave more carbs, a high protein (and high fiber) breakfast will make you a high-powered fat burning machine from meeting to gift-wrapping. Research suggests high protein at one meal means that you choose more wisely at consecutive meals.
Breakfast can be a challenge anytime. On-the-go or traveling during the holidays can make it more difficult to find the right breakfast. The easiest way to end the dilemma is to blend a smoothie with a high-quality protein powder for a quick breakfast fix. Protein per serving of protein powder varies so look for something between 20 and 28 grams. By comparison, an egg has just six grams of protein. Add berries, fat and fiber, and you’ll be supercharged all morning. Sneak in nuts or nut butter if your protein powder doesn’t quite get you to 25-30 grams of muscle-sparing and fat-burning protein.
Traveling? While there are those committed to bringing their bullet blender wherever they go, you may not be one. Do pack your protein powder, though. It travels well, and it buys you time and good judgment. If you’ve had a simple protein shake (made with water if you have to) you’ll think consciously, not ravenously, about what to eat next. Try the tip below for in-room breakfast. As an experienced traveler, this fitness pro has made her share of oatmeal from hotel room coffee makers. Before I’m tempted by the croissants, or shall we say beignets in New Orleans, I’ve had a filling high-protein serving of oatmeal.
Living in a cold climate where a cold drink doesn’t appeal to you? Stir your protein powder into your quinoa or oats. Accessorize with cinnamon, walnuts and blueberries for an antioxidant-rich, tummy-warming and whittling morning meal.
Exercise early on empty.
If you indulged last night, before you follow the fat-burning breakfast suggestions above, get some exercise. A 2013 study in Belgium showed that after an evening of indulging exercise on empty led to greater fat burning all day than the same exercise done after breakfast, provided the exercise is of sufficient intensity.
However, this prescription varies depending on the type of exercise you’re going to do. Before long, slow distance, you’d have less of anything and it should be primarily protein and fat. Before intervals, you should have some carbohydrates to get the fire started and a small amount of protein and/or fat (you usually get both) to keep the fire burning and avoid a sugar rush.
That said, try the following brief but intense interval training session. Warm up for five minutes progressively walking faster each minute. Then alternate one minute of either very fast or incline walking with one minute of recovery walking. Repeat the intervals until you’ve done 10-16 minutes worth. Cool down another five minutes. Proceed to you high-protein breakfast and carry on.
It’s not particularly healthy to plan on over doing it, but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need a morning-after exercise Rx.
The holidays may be full of temptation. Yet, they’re also busy in a way that can keep you on the move, even if your regular exercise routine takes a detour. With the few tips and tricks here to help you burn fat, you’ll find something better than coal in your stocking.