Who doesn’t want to burn more calories? As you hit and enter your thirties, most people start to notice their metabolism slowing down. That is, the amount of energy (aka calories) our bodies need daily to function seems to reduce. So you might find you can’t get away with snacking on some chocolate without noticing extra kilos climbing up on your scales like you used to. So how can you sneak in some extra calorie burn into your normal day to day functioning life? If you can burn more calories and boost your metabolism, you will find that you can maintain your weight a whole lot easier. And you can continue enjoying a chocolate every now and then too.

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Your metabolism works all day long burning calories to keep your body alive. About 70 percent of those calories are used for basic functions, such as breathing and blood circulation, says Rochelle Goldsmith, PhD, director of the Exercise Physiology Lab at Columbia University Medical Centre. Another 20 percent is fuel for physical activity, including working out, fidgeting, walking, and even holding our bodies upright while standing. The remaining 10 percent helps us digest what we eat (so eating burns calories!). This is your Resting Metabolic Rate. When you consume more calories than your body needs to do these things, you will start holding onto calories and it will turn into fat stores. To figure out your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), you can use the following equation (the Mifflin-St. Jeor formula):

Men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

Women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161

If you need, for example, about 1200 calories per day to support your RMR, then you should be able to work out if you need to burn more calories or consume less calories. Remember, energy output equals energy input, so if you are consuming more calories than you are burning, you will find yourself gaining weight. Here are some ways you can sneakily burn more calories throughout your day:

  • Get more out of your work out sessions. More complex movements (for example, those involving your legs or more than one joint movement such as a squat) will burn more calories than a single movement (for example, those involving just one joint such as a bicep curl). Incorporate full body workouts into your weights and cardio and you will burn more calories overall. Also, activities such as running will burn more over a shorter amount of time than cycling.
  • Get your EPOC working. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. This is where your body continues to burn calories after you exercise as it works to replenish its oxygen stores. When you’re working harder, your body requires more oxygen because you’re using more energy. Your lungs can’t keep up with the amount of oxygen required, so your body uses other ways to make energy in the meantime. After a workout has ended, your body is in an oxygen “debt” and it requires extra energy to restore itself to its pre-exercise state. So if you can find ways to make your workout harder, your body will have to work longer post-workout. Doing an extra 1k, incorporating some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), adding some weights or putting in some sprints in your run are great ways to get your heart rate up.
  • Get your heart working first thing in the morning. “Do something first thing to get your metabolism stoked—try a circuit of the tried-and-true basics, like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches and squats,” suggests Alonzo Wilson, founder of Tone House in New York City. These moves can burn more than 140 calories straight up and kick start your metabolism for the rest of the day.
  • Turn down the heat. Keeping your home or workplace on the chilly side can increase your body’s brown fat by up to 40 percent, per a study in the journal Diabetes. When activated by cold temperatures, brown fat burns calories to help your body stay warm, even when you’re just sitting around.
  • Find any excuse to move more. Use the stairs. Do 10 squats every time you need to use the toilet. Use a glass for water so every time you need a refill you have to get up for it. Don’t use a TV remote to change channels – get up to do it. Empty your groceries from the car one bag at a time. Drink lots of water so you have to get up to use the toilet more. Go and talk to your friend in the cubicle down the room instead of texting. Put an alarm on your phone every hour to remind you to move.
  • Don’t use a chair if you don’t have to. Stand to file, wash up, scroll through Facebook or chat to your housemate. Sit on the floor instead of lounging on the couch. Standing or sitting on the floor works your muscles harder because they need to be switched on to keep your body upright.
  • Do grunt work. Multitasking and machines make our life easier, but they also often take away great incidental sneaky ways to burn more calories. If you have the time swap in some grunt. Do the washing up instead of putting on the dishwasher. Actually hand wash your delicate garments instead of using the gentle cycle on your washing machine. Water your garden instead of using sprinklers. Walk to the shops instead of using your car. Go do the groceries instead of using click and collect.
  • Get yourself motivated. Create your own music playlist you can exercise hard to. Get dancing at home with an upbeat playlist of old time favourites. Download an audiobook or a podcast you can look forward to walking to. Organise to work out with a friend.

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On the other side of the equation you need to have a look at your energy input – that is, how many calories you are consuming. You can boost your metabolism just by eating smarter. Here are just three ways you can start:

  1. Don’t skip meals. “Simply chewing, digesting and absorbing food kicks your metabolism into gear,” says Jim White, RD, a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “The more frequently you eat, the more often it revs up.” Conversely, missing a meal, or going too long between meals, slows your metabolism right down. “Your body switches into starvation mode and your system slows down to conserve energy,” White explains. Have three healthy meals of 300 to 400 calories and two snacks of 200 to 300 calories every day, he advises.
  2. Fill up on smart food. Eat protein at every meal – it fills you up more, your body uses more calories to process it and you need it to build muscles. Win! Dairy, meat, fish, nuts are all great proteins you can get munching on. Eating high fibre and whole grain foods also require more energy (aka calories) to process. So wholemeal bread, pastas, fruits and veggies all need to be what you’re eating throughout the day.
  3. Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast will switch your metabolism on high after a good sleep. That’s because your level of cortisol, a hormone that helps you use calories to build muscle, is highest just before you get up in the morning. When you eat a meal in the morning, your body is ready to turn those calories into muscle straight away — and this is the only time during the day it happens. Take advantage of the natural calorie burning process by having a healthy breakfast of low fats, protein and whole grains. Eggs on a whole grain toast sounds just about right!

Getting your heart rate up 3-5 times per week will really help you get those calories burning, so come along and join us at AJ’s and we’ll help you get burning. We have childcare facilities on offer, group fitness classes, weights room, and four pools – plenty to get you motivated to move!

Contact us for your guided tour of our facilities – you won’t be disappointed! Or sign up online to become a member now.