Join the Breakfast ClubPeople with a lifelong habit of eating early have a waistline about 2 inches smaller than that of breakfast skippers, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals. An A.M. meal may boost metabolism; plus, it helps your body make less of an enzyme that raises cholesterol. Rise and dine—within 90 minutes of waking up.
Snack RegularlyGoing too long without food (five hours or more) slows your metabolism, causing your body to burn less fat than normal, says Debra R. Keast, Ph.D., president of Food & Nutrition Database Research in Okemos, Michigan. It can also lead to blood sugar dips, cravings and hunger that make it harder to control your choices at the next meal or snack. The fix: Have a healthful snack about three hours after breakfast and another three hours after lunch, suggests Lauren Slayton, R.D., founder of Foodtrainers in New York City. Try a 6-ounce nonfat plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup of sliced strawberries, or 2 Wasa light rye crackers topped with ¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey. These 100-to-200-calorie snacks will help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady and your energy level humming along.
Spin OffPeople who cycled 6 miles a week for only six months lowered their insulin level by 19 percent, but walkers who covered the same ground saw no change, a study from the Karolinska Institute finds. (High insulin is tied to weight gain.) Biking works more muscles, amping up fat-burning metabolism, which can keep insulin in check. Pedal the pounds away!
Get Green TeaDrinking three cups of the brew daily may spark your metabolism to burn 30 extra calories a day, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows. Doesn’t sound like much? That’s 3 pounds off a year—diet-free! The compound ECGC in the tea makes it easier for your body to burn fat. Sip your way slim today!
Pump Some IronStart thinking of your gym’s weight room as the “lose weight” room. Strength training, which only about 17 percent of women do, speeds metabolism, torches calories, and sculpts sexy muscles. It’s so effective, in fact, that you should put cardio on the back burner and make strength training 60 percent of your routine—no joke, says Holly Perkins, an ExerciseTV trainer in Los Angeles. Embrace free weights, especially barbells, which work more muscles (you have to hold them steady as you lift) than machines. Remember that the muscle you’re gaining weighs more than the fat you’re shedding; at first, you may not drop pounds, but you’ll be smaller and firmer—go by how your jeans fit.
Clock Your SetsTo melt fat faster while you strength train, limit the time between sets. Exercisers who waited only 35 seconds between sets decreased their body fat by 27 percent more after eight weeks than those who rested three minutes, researchers at San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia say. Shorter rests keep your metabolism humming along and your heart rate up, so they shave minutes off your time at the gym and help your afterburn for hours once you’re back at your desk.
Want to try strength training but are intimated by the weight room? No worries! Try these do-anywhere, easy-to-follow moves with weights at Self.com.