6 Simple Ways to Crush More Calories

These easy, researched-back tips turn up the heat on calorie burning—and help you lose weight faster. 

bowl of chili peppers

You know the drill when it comes to losing weight—burn more calories than you take in, and you’ll see the pounds melt away. But even if you eat healthy and consistently get to the gym, a new tip might be just what your body needs to keep moving in the right direction. The good news is that burning more calories doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Here are six simple things you can do daily to crush more calories.

Eat a (big) bowl of oats for breakfast

Breakfast is a good time to refuel your body, and it is also prime time to kick-start your metabolism into fat burning mode for the day. Research conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond found that consuming a big breakfast that included carbohydrates (along with protein) first thing in the morning wards off carb cravings and helps shed more pounds. In the study, researchers compared two diet groups, both of which were low in fat and total calories, but differed in carb intake. One group followed a very strict low-carb diet, while the other followed a modified low-carb or “big-breakfast” diet. After eight months, those who followed the modified low-carb “big-breakfast” diet lost more than 39 pounds; the very strict low-carb group lost just 10 pounds. What’s more, those who ate a big breakfast reported feeling less hungry, especially before lunch than the strict low-carb dieters. Opt for slow-burning complex carbohydrates such as oats, which keep blood sugar and insulin levels low, so fat burning stays high.

Swap steady-state cardio for intervals

Unless you’re training for a long-distance race, ditch the drawn out treadmill sessions. Studies show that your metabolism gets a greater boost from shorter duration cardio sessions with varying degrees of intensity—and that’s great news, especially when you’re crunched for time. In fact, one study conducted by researchers in Australia found women who followed a 20-minute HIIT routine, consisting of 8-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest, lost six times more body fat than those who followed a 40-minute steady-state (at 60% of the maximum heart rate) routine. And the fat-fighting benefits don’t stop there. Research confirms that HIIT burns almost 10 percent more calories during the 24 hours following exercise compared continuous to steady-state exercise. So you’ll continue to burn calories long after your workout is over.

Spice up your meals

Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to your next meal. The metabolism-boosting topper contains capsaicin—the chemical component that gives these fiery little peppers their burn―and has been shown to crush more calories by revving up calorie burning. Capsaicin works by boosting levels of epinephrine (adrenaline), the “fight-or-flight” hormone that speeds up metabolism and fat usage.

Be flexible with your goals

Approaching weight loss with a flexible goal range instead of a specific number goal results in greater success, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. Researchers found that those who set a high-low goal range have greater goal achievability than those adopting a rigid single number goal. If you are striving to reach a fixed number goal, such as lose six pounds, chances are you will be deflated and demotivated if you don’t reach it, which could have a negative impact on your long-term plan for a healthier, happier, and hotter you. A realistic range, such as lose five to seven pounds, not only results in a positive accomplishment once you reach the target ‘low’ end, but also provides an ongoing challenge to strive for the ‘high’ end.

Get a little frisky

Getting more between-the-sheets time may be just what you need to give your metabolism that extra bit of get-up-and-go, according to new study published in the journal PLOS ONE. During some sex for science research, researchers at the University of Quebec at Montreal found that regular, moderate-intensity sexual activity could burn more calories than a walk in the park. Although sex won’t replace serious exercise, and frequent friskiness won’t replace the benefits of the gym, you can burn up some serious calories as you bump up your heart rate and increase your metabolism. And, the more vigorous the frolics, the more calories you’ll burn.

Keep a food journal

The simple act of writing down what you eat can help you whittle your waistline. In a study conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, researchers found that those who wrote down every single morsel that entered their mouths each day lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t record their food intake. Keeping track of what you eat—whether in a journal, an online food-tracking program, or even by sending yourself a quick email or text every time you eat—helps you become more aware of your chowing habits, and helps you crack down on cravings and overeating.

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