If you’re hoping to turn over of a new leaf in 2021, change your habits for the better, and finally lose those extra five or ten pounds you’ve been dying to part with, you’re probably well aware of the fact that taking a hard look at the quality of your diet—and not so much the quantity—is certainly a good place to start. (Spoiler alert: Eat more whole foods.) Throw in a dedicated, moderate exercise regimen and lower your intake of alcohol and sugar, and you’re likely well on your way to seeing great fat-loss results.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of sneaky little tricks you can try to help give your efforts a much-needed assist along the way. We’re talking about expert-backed tactics that are not only easy to do but also can really help you reach your goals quicker and more effectively. To know what they are, read on—we’ve listed at least eight of them right here. And if you’re hungry for more expert-backed ways to burn more fat faster, make sure you’re aware of the 12 Foods That Drive the Most Weight Loss of All, According to Experts.
“A sneaky way to burn fat is to keep your home, office, and car a few degrees cooler than usual,” says Robert Herbst, a personal trainer, weight loss expert, and 19-time world champion powerlifter who supervised the drug testing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and will have a similar role in Tokyo this year. “It does not have to be so cold you are miserable, but enough that is less than room temperature. Your body will burn extra calories to keep you warm. It won’t be a lot, but they will add up all day, every day, and it will amount to weight loss. Weight loss is a journey—and every little bit helps.”
He’s right. According to a new study published in the journal Molecular Metabolism, “cold ambient temperatures” will encourage your body to produce more vitamin A naturally, which helps your body convert your body’s white fat (the bad, inert kind) into brown fat (the good, healthy, and useful kind). When this happens, your body burns more energy than it stores as fat. Best of all: You don’t need to load up on vitamin A supplements to experience this metabolic boost.
If you’re working out tomorrow morning, you’d be wise to “clear the runway” the night before—and by that we mean removing in advance any and all obstacles and tasks that require any decision-making that could potentially distract you from the larger goal of getting to your sweat session. “When you are tired in the morning, you may find excuses why not to go to the gym or to workout,” says Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS. “Getting everything packed and ready to go will help you keep consistent with your program—period.”
Before you leave for your morning sweat session, remember this: Drinking enough water each and every day is crucial for having a fully optimized metabolism. According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water (about two tall glasses), participants’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent. The researchers estimate that increasing water intake just six cups a day will burn an extra 17,400 calories per year—a weight loss of five pounds. For more great weight loss tips, see this list of Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Starting Right Now, According to Experts.
“One sneaky way to burn more fat more easily all day long is to rev up your metabolism in short intervals at various points during the day,” says Alicia Filley, PT, a physical therapist and founder of The Healthy Hiker. “Doing this throughout your day is easy without doing any formal exercise.”
She recommends taking the stairs anywhere you’re going—be it at work or in a parking garage while you’re our running errands—and, if you’re staying home, climb the stairs there. “Doing this several times a day bumps up your heart rate and will cause you to burn more calories,” she says.
If you can’t do short bursts of exercise, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be burning some fat. In fact, you could burn more fat by doing the simplest thing of all: fidgeting, or simply moving around. This is according to a study published in the journal PLOS One, which appeared to make a remarkable discovery: When your muscles aren’t moving at all—even for short periods—your metabolism may be taking a breather.
The study examined the role of myosin, a motor protein in animal cells that is crucial to muscle function and metabolism. The researchers ultimately discovered that for many animals, myosin simply shuts off when muscles are inactive for even short periods of time. (The researchers noted that this is an evolutionary hunting tactic for many animals, such as spiders, who require a “sit-and-wait” strategy in which they conserve energy while waiting for prey.) But here’s the thing: We humans have myosin, as well.
The breakthrough has led weight-loss experts to preach the merits of not only performing high-intensity exercises and running 10Ks but also of simply swinging your arms or fidgeting if you’re relaxing on the couch. “Moving throughout the day is important, says Clyde Wilson, Ph.D., of Stanford University. “Because a simple twitch from your nervous system to muscle is what gets you out of [that inactive] state.” So even if you’re being lazy, keep moving—and keep burning fat!
“Have your favorite music ready to listen to that gets you excited in the morning—one that will get you motivated once that alarm clock goes off,” advises Dr. Conrad. “Every little bit will help when you are trying to wake up early.”
“Across all of my clients who are looking to lose weight, the most effective and easiest strategy has been incorporating a healthy, high-protein breakfast,” says Oliver Bashforth, BSc Health and Exercise Science, of Blackridge Fitness in the UK. consuming high-protein breakfasts help increase your muscle mass, which means you’ll burn more calories over time. “They also help you feel more full, decreasing your likelihood of snacking later in the day,” he says.
Bashforth offers his favorite breakfast: “Half a can of black beans with 3 eggs and a handful of spinach. You can cook this in 5 minutes in a frying pan or a few minutes in the microwave. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of Worcester sauce if you’re feeling adventurous.”
Movement is key to keeping your body’s inner fat-furnace firing—and we recommend you adopt any moderate-to-intense exercise plan that you’ll enjoy and stick to—but if you’re determined to lose weight, data from Harvard University says that hopping on the treadmill is the most efficient and affordable calorie burn you can do. If you weigh 182 pounds, a half-hour on treadmill at 7.5 mph will result in 465 calories burned. For more advice you can use for your health, read up on The Single Worst Alcoholic Beverage for Your Body, According to Science.