The formula for losing weight is simple: Burn more calories than you consume. Achieving this, however, isn’t simple at all.
Steady cardio workouts like running and biking burn calories during your workout, but they don’t do much to boost your metabolism throughout the rest of the day.
Luckily, there’s a solution. Here are three ways to burn more calories in and out of the gym for faster fat loss:
1. Amp Up the Intensity
Rather than increasing the duration of your workouts (e.g., running further or working out longer), increase the intensity of your workouts so that your body burns calories even after your workout has ended.
Short, intense workouts are known as metabolic conditioning. The goal is to do lots of work in a short time so your body is forced to expend more calories than usual over the next couple of hours to help you recover.
When you perform high-intensity exercise, you don’t consume much oxygen. Your body can’t deliver enough oxygen to muscles to keep up with demand, so you go into what’s called oxygen debt. This debt is repaid with excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which is the extra oxygen you consume after you stop exercising in order to replenish oxygen and make up for the hard work you did.
Rather than jogging for 30 minutes at a steady pace, try alternating between 10 seconds of sprinting and 30 seconds of jogging for 10–20 minutes. Even better, try this workout on a stationary bike:
- Warm up at an easy pace (2 out of 10 on the perceived exertion scale) for 60 seconds
- Sprint as hard as you can (10 out of 10 perceived exertion) for 15 seconds
- Pedal at a moderate pace (4 out of 10 perceived exertion) for 45 seconds
- Repeat for 10 minutes
- Cool down at an easy pace (2 out of 10 perceived exertion) for 60 seconds
2. Eat More Protein
Most of my fat-loss clients don’t eat enough protein. Increasing protein to a baseline of at least 1 gram per pound of body weight almost always jump-starts the fat-loss process.
Protein is important because it’s the building block of muscle — and more muscle means you’ll burn more calories at rest. Second, protein has a high thermic effect of food, meaning you burn a lot of calories when you digest protein. Think about it: Your digestive system works much harder to break down a 6-ounce chicken breast than it does a cup of rice, expending more calories in the process.
Try this: At each meal (three to four times per day total), aim to eat a palm-size piece of protein — chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, you can’t go wrong. You’ll build muscle, stay fuller longer and boost your metabolism for quicker weight loss.
3. Lift More Weights
As mentioned, muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. When you lift weights, you’re building muscle to stoke your fat-burning furnace.
Lifting weights doesn’t cost many calories during your workout, but it pays off by increasing your resting metabolic rate, which is the minimum number of calories required to keep your body running during day-to-day activity.
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to see the benefits of lifting weights. Start with three full-body lifting sessions per week, focusing on exercises that work multiple muscles at once. Squats, deadlifts, walking lunges, push-ups and rows are great choices to build muscle from head to toe.
Don’t forget to consume enough protein after you lift weights. Eat a meal with at least a palm-size portion of protein, or grab a protein shake (whey protein is best, but rice or pea protein work well if you’re looking for a dairy-free option) with 20–30 grams of protein.