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  • Burn calories watching TV

    When it comes to weight loss, metabolism is a magic word. Quite simply, metabolism is the rate at which we burn calories, so people with speedy metabolisms tend to be leaner and able to eat more, while those of us with sluggish ones are more likely to constantly struggle to reach that elusive happy weight.

    Many of those "naturally" trim folks credit their fast metabolisms. The truth is, they probably work hard to make it look effortless while exercising and avoiding simple sugar. And while genetics are partly responsible, several easy lifestyle tweaks can rev your metabolism and help you peel off any unwanted pounds. Give a few of the following tips a try. Before you can say abracadabra, you'll see the calories—and pounds—disappear. And that means a slimmer, sexier you.

    Have a big breakfast

    When you wake up, your metabolism is usually at its highest, so it's smart to have a healthy, hearty A.M. meal. Not only will it keep you energized throughout the morning, but you'll also be able to burn it off more easily throughout the day (because you'll head off splurges the are caused by being famished), making weight loss more attainable. In fact, obese women who ate a 600-calorie breakfast shed about 40 pounds in eight months, whereas those who ate smaller morning meals experienced only a 9-pound loss, according to a study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

    The secret? Breakfasts that contained a mix of protein, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady and staves off hunger, and carbs, which satisfy while helping to protect you from cravings later on. I like nonfat yogurt with fruit and low-carb granola, or you can try oatmeal with honey, walnuts and blueberries. An egg white omelet is another smart option: The amino acids in egg whites help build lean muscle that may in turn help boost metabolism. These Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittatas provide 17 grams of protein, as well. Whatever your breakfast choice, try to get about 400 calories.

    Switch on a sitcom

    I don't have ton of time to watch TV, but when I do I happily indulge, knowing that flipping on a funny show (Saturday Night Live, The Office and 30 Rock are faves) can crank up my calorie burn. It's true! When people watched a humorous program, they had a 20 percent increase in heart rate and resting metabolism, according to a study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Laughing uses a lot of energy because it recruits a variety of muscle groups, most importantly your abs. Laugh for just 15 minutes a day and that metabolic boost could add up to 14,600 more calories burned per year. That's about 4 pounds! For more simple stomach-firming tips, try our Flat Abs Fast! plan.

    Break a sweat

    You didn't think you could boost your metabolism without any exercise, did you? Well, the good news is that you don't need to spend your life in a gym to make a dent in your fat-burning ability. The ideal amount to deliver a solid metabolism boost: 40 minutes of heart-pumping activity three days a week, a study in Obesity reports.

    Soup up your strength

    Building lean muscle—whether by lifting weights or with weight-bearing exercise such as jogging—is a genius way to pump up metabolism. Why? Lean muscle burns about three times as many calories as fat, so if you squeeze in two fat-melting sessions a week, your body will automatically zap up to 150 extra calories every day, even when you're sitting on the couch. And research shows it could whittle your middle, too. Women who strength trained lost more ab fat than those instructed only to walk, a study from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia finds. Choose from over 100 different strength workouts archived at, like this one to Tone Every Trouble Zone.

    Keep mealtimes on schedule

    When you're used to eating at specific times throughout the day, your body learns to anticipate food, making its digestion and metabolism more efficient. In fact, a study at the University of Nottingham in England found that women who ate at predictable times consumed 120 fewer daily calories overall and burned them faster than those who ate haphazardly. Researchers think the schedule may help your body produce the right amount of insulin as well as hunger and fullness hormones so you don't overdo it.

    Don't skimp on calories

    You may think that subsisting on lemon water and radishes is a fast way to shed pounds. But when your daily intake dips below 1,000 calories a day, your plan is bound to backfire. Not only is it nearly impossible to maintain such a restrictive diet, it's counterproductive: Your metabolism puts on the brakes when your body detects too little food coming in, which impedes weight loss efforts long-term. Plus, your body may eventually begin to raid its own muscle stores for the energy it needs. Do what's helped millions of women lose weight: Eat plenty of healthy foods and still slim down.

    Retreat from your seat

    Staying on your feet revs metabolism and doubles your calorie burn during workdays, a study in Diabetes reports. Sitting for a few hours switches off enzymes that capture fat in the bloodstream, but rising reignites them. Surrender during phone calls and take frequent trips to the water fountain and fill up on cool H20 that's 72 degrees or less; research shows it'll temporarily boost metabolism.

    Spice up your meals

    Adding chiles to your next dish can crank up your metabolism, thanks to a compound in them called capsaicin. The clever little compound has a thermogenic effect, meaning it causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after consumption. Another plus: It's impossible to gobble up spicy food without coming up for air (and we don't mean margaritas!). By eating more slowly, your brain has more time to register that your stomach is full, so you won't overeat.

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