A Sneaky Way to Burn More Calories
Last updated: March 2022
Have you ever heard someone say, "I have a slow metabolism"? They may be right! Body size, muscle mass, gender, and age can all impact your metabolism and how many calories you burn each day. So, technically, you can have a slower metabolism than the person next door. The smaller you are, the less energy you need, and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you need.
Increase muscle mass
Now you must be wondering what you can do to increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories each day. Luckily, you have more control over your metabolism than you might think. The single most effective way to boost your metabolism is by increasing muscle mass. The best way to increase muscle mass is through resistance training, such as lifting weights, body weight exercises like squats or lunges, or yoga and pilates.
These exercises will ignite your fuel-burning furnace and help you torch more calories throughout the day, even while your body is at rest! More muscle means a higher calorie burn because muscles always need energy. In contrast, fat cells and other tissues are lazy, and just store energy in your body for later use. The more muscle you add to your body, the higher your metabolic rate will be, and the more calories your body will naturally burn, leading to increased fat loss and better muscle tone.
A second method for boosting metabolism and burning more calories throughout the day is more subtle. In addition to focusing on traditional exercises to boost your muscle mass, pay attention to all of your small activities throughout the day. These small motions are known as NEAT- non-exercise thermogenesis. Although they may be tiny, these fidgeting motions, such as toe-tapping or pacing, can add up to a big calorie burn!
Research suggests that thin people may naturally move more than the average person.1, 2 They may be more likely to bounce their leg at a desk, or fidget around in their chair all day. Take a cue from this research and make an effort to move more! When you’re sitting and you can stand, stand! When you’re standing and you can pace, pace! If you’re at a desk job, get up and move periodically with small exercises. Consider a desk that goes from sitting to standing position or sitting on an exercise ball to engage your core muscles even while at rest.
All together, every calorie expended adds up to a more active you! Even small activities can make a difference. For example, a 154-pound man burns 45 calories in just 15 minutes of stretching. So stop sitting while watching TV and stretch instead! Activate your NEAT and build that muscle mass to ease closer to your weight goal!
How to burn more calories
- While reading on the computer, bring your arms into prayer position then extend out to the sides. Repeat 30 times.
- While driving, practice isometrics –hold each muscle group and tighten for 10 seconds, release and repeat. Hey ladies –this a great time to do those kegels!
- Create a personal NEAT mantra. Mine is, “Suck in gut, squeeze the butt!” If I’m folding laundry or doing dishes, I automatically think of my mantra and engage my core, igniting that burnin’ furnace!
- Stand up when talking on the phone. Better yet, walk around your home or office while you chat.
- Sit a lot at work? Get better use of that chair. Work your way up to 3 sets of 15 chair exercises. Start by standing in front of your chair. With proper knee alignment (no knees over the toes), begin the motion of sitting down on the chair, but before the gluteus maximus touches the seat, stand up straight again. Repeat 15 times. Leave a post it note to remind you to your chair exercise or better yet schedule in fitness breaks!
- Walk over to a co-workers desk instead of calling or e-mailing.
- Take the stairs whenever possible – going down the stairs counts too! Make a NEW RULE, if it’s less than 5 flights, no elevator! Really feeling motivated? Get a workplace campaign to beautify the stairwells. Research shows more people will take the stairs if the walls are bright, decorated, or beautified.3,4 Even hanging a sign next to the elevator with a reminder to take the stairs can be effective.
- Instead of trying to get a spot right next to the entrance, park your car farther away – it will save you a headache and get you some extra steps! Now remember to engage those muscles while you walk.
- Do pushups, squats, sit-ups, or jumping jacks during TV commercials. Or get up and fold laundry, load the dishwasher, wipe down countertops, etc.
- Safely return your grocery cart to the designated shopping cart area.
- Take several trips to unload your groceries from the car.
- Avoid the drive-thru!
- If taking the bus or subway, hop off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
- Instead of taking your car to the car wash, wash it yourself. While you’re at it, you can give your pets a good scrub too!
- Walk your dog or offer to walk a neighbor’s dog.
- Laugh, giggle, and wiggle –you may look a little crazy but you’ll turn on that NEAT!
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?