Add Resistance Training
If you're not already including weight-bearing exercises in your workout regimen, you should start as soon as possible. Muscle torches calories, even while your body is at rest. Adding muscle mass can help you incinerate more calories without doing anything extra because it boosts your resting metabolic rate. Aim to lift weights at least twice a week on nonconsecutive days. If you're already pumping iron twice weekly, add one additional day of weight-training to your regimen.
And if you're female, don't worry about "bulking up." Females don't produce enough testosterone to build large bulging muscles like men do.
Tack on an Extra 10 Minutes
Even if you're already committing yourself to regular physical activity, stepping up your game a little each time can burn just enough extra calories to rid yourself of extra weight. Tack on an extra mile to your jog, take the longer bike route, or add several laps to your swim. Even just extending your warm-up and cool-down time can be helpful.
Add Small Bits of Physical Activity Throughout the Day
We've all heard it before--take the stairs instead of the elevator, park the farthest away in the parking lot when you shop, go for a walk on your lunch break. These tips aren't revolutionary, but they really do help burn extra calories throughout your busy day.
Make a conscious effort to add small amounts of easy physical activity interspersed throughout your day, especially if you have a job where you're largely inactive. Try to get up and walk around your office for a few minutes every hour, or do some chair exercises for about 10 minutes every couple of hours. In addition to burning extra calories, you'll likely give yourself an energy boost to make it through your hectic work schedule.
Integrate Interval Training
Performing aerobic intervals, quick bursts of high-intensity exercises followed by periods of low-intensity activities, burns mega calories. And the calorie-burning lasts well beyond your sweat-session alone. Research has found that after vigorous exercise, there can be an increased calorie expenditure for up to 48 hours after your workout.
You can do interval training with almost any type of exercise, including running, walking, bike-riding, swimming and others. Additionally, you will improve your aerobic capacity. As you build your cardiovascular fitness, you'll eventually be able to work out longer and at a higher level of intensity. Translation: you burn more calories at a faster rate.
The Bottom Line: Any way you can burn extra calories throughout the day above and beyond what you're already doing can help blast away those last few unwanted pounds.
Part 3: Maintenance
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.