It’s not a mystery that expending extra calories is beneficial to weight loss. If you’d like to shed those pesky pounds, finding ways to incorporate more activity into your day, or using a few shortcuts to stimulate a higher metabolism, may prompt positive health benefits.
If you want to lose weight, you have to create a caloric deficit. In other words, you have to burn more calories than you take in. There are 3 primary ways to achieve this:
- Eat less. Portion control is one way to do this. Another way is to look at the food you’re eating and come up with options that are healthier. You’ll want to look at nutritional information, but opt for fresh fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. Also look into how you prepare your food, since each method can add calories as well. Consider chicken: if you fry it, you’re keeping the skin on plus adding calories with the breading and oil it’s fried in; if you grill or bake it without the skin, however, you can find other natural flavors – like rosemary and lemon – to punch up the flavor!
- Exercise more. Want to eat pretty much the same amount as you’re already consuming? You’ll have to burn more calories. Sounds easy, in theory. In practice, however, more exercise prompts a hunger response (usually at the end of the day), and too much exercise can cause cravings in the evening, leading up right before bedtime – one of the worst possible times to eat excess calories!
- Try a combination of #1 and #2. Let’s face facts: portion control requires unyielding discipline, and everyone has a slip-up. And transitioning into a dedicated workout fanatic sounds great, but few people have the time and dedication to start waking up at 5:00 AM for a jog, then hitting the kettlebells after work. But a balanced, sensible approach – both eating slightly less and exercising slightly more – combines the best of both worlds, and it’s much more manageable.
Is there a way to increase your daily caloric requirements? For most people, running a marathon twice or thrice per week is out of the question. Thus, a “health hack” is worth looking into.
Health Hacks Worth Trying: Hidden Ways to Burn More Calories
Health hacks are a sub-category of life hacks, those quick and painless shortcuts that generally produce superior results with minimal effort. Some of the more popular health hacks to emerge recently include Bulletproof Coffee (developed by entrepreneur Dave Asprey), which provides a good dose of brain-boosting fat in the morning (usually in the form of coconut oil) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a form of exercise that favors brief, intense activity over prolonged, monotonous workouts such as cardio routines.
We embarked on a health-hack mission recently, in an effort to discover some hidden ways to expend more calories throughout the day.
The average American puts in just over 5,000 paces per day, well below the recommended 10,000 steps (about 5 miles). Low-level aerobic activity has outstanding benefits for overall health, but chances are you’re not walking enough. To put some more pep in your step, try these things:
- Park purposefully. At work, park your car far away from the entrance. If you’re at the mall, go for the parking spot that’s out and away from all the other vehicles – you’ll gain some extra steps, and there’s a smaller chance your car will encounter a scratched door or fender-bender.
- Avoid elevators and escalators. Ever notice how everyone opts for the easiest way up or down? Make a commitment to take the stairs instead. Let’s say you work on the fourth floor at your office building. Just by skipping the elevator, you’ll add an extra 250-300 steps per day – double that number, if you happen to take a stroll at lunchtime. And about those walks…
- Walk at work. Sitting down for hours on end isn’t healthy. Don’t just sit there – walk instead! A quick jaunt to the water cooler, a trip to the cafeteria, a walk during your lunch hour – they all help strengthen your joints AND burn extra calories, too!
Don’t worry, be happy – laugh!
What if you could lose an extra 4-5 pounds per year by just sitting there? Well you can – as long as you get in a few minutes of laughter per day. So loosen up, enjoy the ride and take time to find the humor in any situation. Your waistline will thank you. Weight gain is no laughing matter, but weight loss apparently is!
Open your spice cabinet
Jazz up your favorite foods with some extra spice and heat. For example, chili and habanero peppers have been shown to ramp up metabolic function – the body’s way of managing high-heat intake – resulting in an extra 50-60 calories burned every day.
Limit alcohol consumption
When looking for some sneaky ways to burn more calories, sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. One of the biggest “don’ts” for losing weight is drinking alcohol. Whenever you drink a beer, wine or spirits, the alcohol becomes the body’s preferred fuel-burning mechanism – before protein, body fat, glucose or anything else. Which means that, even after an entire day of smart dietary choices, beneficial exercise and overall fitness-friendly activity, a single drink can switch your body from fat-burning mode to alcohol-burning mode. There’s a reason a bloated gut is called “beer belly.” Skip the drinks, and you’re bound to optimize weight loss.
Have a cold one – water, that is!
Ice cold water produces a unique calorie-burning process within your body. In order to “warm up” an 8-ounce glass of water for easier digestion and absorption, the body is forced to expend about 15-20 calories. So, the more cold water you drink, the more calories you’ll burn. And as an added benefit, you’ll feel fuller, so you’re less likely to overeat at mealtimes.
Get better sleep
Basic metabolic functions – including the ability to burn extra calories – are directly tied to the quantity and quality of sleep. If you’re getting 5-6 hours per night, try going to bed an hour earlier. If you’re already getting a solid 8 or 9 hours, tweak your sleeping environment. Try blackout curtains. Adjust the room temperature. Buy a new mattress. Fix your sleep issues, and your body’s ability to burn calories will automatically improve.
If you’re having difficulty finding ways to burn extra calories or lose extra weight, Urgent Care Extra can help. Aside from our physician recommendations for a healthy and sustainable diet, we also have a proven and reliable medical weight loss program, available in customized packages for optimum effectiveness.
Whether you’re stalled with your fitness goals or want to break through the latest plateau, UCE provides a full array of health-friendly services to keep you on the right track. To jumpstart your health journey, please visit any of our Arizona walk-in urgent care clinics today, or call us at (480) 988-9108. What are some hidden ways you’ve found to burn extra calories? Let us know by dropping us a line. Thanks for reading the UCE blog, and stay tuned for health news, fitness tips and more.