Your hour in the gym is merely a piece of the weight-loss puzzle. A crucial one, sure, but there are still another 23 hours in the day. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to amplifying your fat burn from wake-up to wind-down, no extra effort expended. You’ll torch kilos in record time.
1. Form in a Teacup
Cold brews and colourful lattes may be trending right now, but a classic cup of tea has benefits that they can’t match. Tea is a rich source of prebiotics, which feed micro-organisms in your gut; meanwhile, black tea, in particular, increases your levels of fat-burning pseudobutyrivibrio bacteria. Seven minutes’ brewing time is optimal if you don’t want watered-down results.
2. Branch Out
Far more than just a bar snack or a Martini garnish, olives offer major benefits to your metabolism, thanks to their high copper and CLA fat content. But you might be missing out on the best bit of the plant: researchers at King Saud University found that oil made from olive leaves increases the production of metabolism-boosting thyroid hormones; in lab rats, levels more than doubled. Add a drizzle to your bruschetta.
3 Divide and Conquer
To earn extra burn from your workouts, don’t train more – train differently. Instead of grinding it out for an hour, split your exercise in two. One study found you could burn almost double the kilojoules via a process called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption”. Try half an hour of sprints in the park before work and a bodyweight circuit at lunch. You’ll be culling kilojoules for 48 hours.
4. Breakfast Means Breakfast
Forget fasted cardio. Your morning meal activates genes involved in fat metabolism, reports the Journal of Physiology. So, simply by eating it, you can encourage your body to burn more kilojoules throughout the day. A separate study in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating a high-fat meal upon waking primes your system to burn body fat instead of glucose. Upgrade your bowl of Weet-Bix to shred even more.
5. Top of the Pops
Dosing up on pre-workout supps before training may have you buzzing for the gym, but there are other ways to enjoy a similar boost without feeling like a kid on a sugar binge. A study in Scientific Reports found that rats that had been fed grape polyphenols before being let loose on treadmills displayed higher levels of AMPK, an enzyme linked to fat burning. Add a bunch to your stack
6. Spin it to Win
Stop what you’re curling. While heavy lifting can improve your metabolic rate, for the best results, superset it with a session on the bikes. A University of Copenhagen study comparing spinners with lifters found that the former group had higher levels of metabolism-boosting hormone FGF21 after training. This was attributed to either the high intensity or the increased lower-body muscle recruitment. Cap off your session with an AirBike finisher.
7. Just Think About It
Boosting your metabolism may require little more than an attitude adjustment. According to one study†, subjects who were encouraged to interpret their daily activities as exercise burned more kilojoules and lost extra body fat without any change to their routines. It’s strenuous work updating those spreadsheets . . . right?
8. Learn to Cook in Big Batches
If your al desko lunch consists of a rush-job sandwich and you hungrily devour your main meal once the working day is done, you should consider reversing that trend. According to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center, eating the bulk of your kilojoules earlier in the day keeps your circadian rhythm in sync, ensuring that your body burns off more of what you put in. You’re going to need bigger Tupperware
9. Burn More with Water
A diet of steak and protein bars may have benefits for your biceps, but it comes with a metabolic downside. In a University of Connecticut study, athletes on a high-protein diet showed signs of metabolism-stalling dehydration, even though they didn’t feel any thirstier than usual. Don’t wait to feel parched – just 500ml of water can elevate your metabolism by 30 per cent within the next hour, reports the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
10. It’s Hip to Eat Squares
“Eat little and often” is a myth so ubiquitous that it’s rarely questioned. But a study in the journal Plos One noted a slight increase in kilojoule burn among men who ate larger meals less frequently, while research by the US National Institute on Aging showed that mice that consumed one supersized daily meal were healthier than constant grazers. It’ll also cut back on the washing up.
11. Save It for Later
Delaying your weights session until after work will reignite your metabolism just as it’s easing off (while also helping you to escape the allure of “a quick beer”). In a US study**, subjects who trained after 6pm torched more fat than those who worked out in the morning. The extended lie-ins won’t go amiss, either.
12. Top Up Your T
Endless back squats aren’t the only way to elevate testosterone, a natural fat burner. A University of Bath study found performing 10 sprints of 30 seconds elevates your T levels for the following hour, while improving sugar metabolism. Keep your work-rest ratio at 1:3 – fail to recover and you won’t put in peak effort.
13. Salt Your Wounds
Iodine is essential for helping your thyroid to produce the hormones that keep your metabolism in good working order. Sea vegetables such as wakame are excellent sources, best served in miso for easier nutrient absorption. But if you’re more of a seafood traditionalist, add iodised salt to your chips.
14. Order from the Amazon
As well as boosting immunity, vitamin C is crucial to a functioning metabolism, offsetting the oxidative stress that slows our bodies down as we age, according to the University of Colorado at Boulder. But you needn’t resort to Berocca. The rainforest fruit camu camu contains five times your RDI per teaspoon of powder and, according to Gut journal, can temper weight gain caused by overeating. So instead of maxing out on oranges, throw some camu camu into your next shake.
15. Sweet Option
Not all body fat is created equal. While “white” fat stores kilojoules, active “brown” fat helps you burn them off. Cold-weather exercise boosts your levels of the brown kind – but if pounding freezing pavements doesn’t appeal, research‡ shows that eating melatonin-rich foods has a similar effect. Grab a handful of goji berries.
16. Mint Conditioning
Sugary sports drinks might be indispensable mid-marathon, but during a swift 10K, avoid the extra carbs. Instead, add a few drops of peppermint oil to your water. According to the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, it improves oxygen use instantly, increasing the amount of fat your body can burn, while the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine found the scent alone can relieve fatigue.
17. Hone Your Bones
A stronger skeleton will do more than improve your odds of a more robust retirement – it’ll also prop up your fat-burning. A Canadian study found the “bone hormone” osteocalcin improves sugar and fat metabolism. Trade standing squats for plyometrics, such as jumping lunges and V-tucks.
18. It’s Your Round
Your weight-loss goals don’t live or die in the gym. A study by the Mayo Clinic found “non-exercise activity” such as pacing and fidgeting significantly affects your body shape and size. A brief stroll after eating has a more positive effect on metabolism than longer walks at other moments, so time your coffee run accordingly
19. Throw Some Shade
We know that browsing emails after dark can disrupt your sleep – but it’s equally stressful for your metabolism. Research by Northwestern University linked exposure to screen light to insulin resistance, which harms your ability to process carbs. On those evenings when powering down isn’t an option, take a lutein supp to protect your eyes from blue light. It’s less daft than resorting to wearing amber-tinted glasses.
20. Embrace the Daily Grind
Over pimped-up breakfast bowls? At least one popular porridge topping has legit fat-burning benefits. A study in Metabolism found cinnamon flips the switch that triggers fat cells to torch kilojoules. Spoon into post-gym shakes to optimise your efforts.
21. Set a Curfew
Hit the hay early: those eight hours of sleep are of limited benefit after midnight. Why? Hormones that control fat and carbohydrate metabolism surge at 11pm – but only if you’re asleep.