One study found that doing 10 four-minute speed bursts with two minutes of slow walking or cycling after each (60 minutes total) three times a week upped the body’s ability to use fat as fuel during exercise by 25 percent after six weeks. “Shoot for an eight or nine on an intensity scale of one to 10, where 10 is an all-out sprint,” says lead researcher Christopher Perry, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the University of Guelph in Canada.
Jot down meals and moves.
People who used an online weight-control program were most likely to lose pounds when they regularly recorded their weight loss, calories consumed, and activity, a study at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock revealed.
Sleep off the flab.
Getting between six and eight hours of shut-eye a night helped dieters shed more weight in a recent study from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon. “Plus, consistently increasing your sleep, even if by only 30 minutes a night, and sticking to regular bed- and wake-up times can provide you a boost in alertness and help prepare you for your workout,” says Cheri D. Mah, sleep expert at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory.
Bypass the fat-burning zone.
Forget this so-called sweet spot, when you go slow in order to sizzle a higher percentage of calories from fat: Burning more total calories at the highest intensity that you can sustain means you’ll also burn more fat overall. For a measure of which zone you’re in, strap on a heart rate monitor. Walk or jog lightly (the half-effort pace dubbed the fat-burning zone), noting the number of beats per minute (bpm) on its display. “That’s the number to reach on an easy day,” says John Porcari, PhD, FITNESS advisory board member and program director in the clinical exercise physiology department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Then power walk or run at your usual pace and see what your heart rate is; this is your moderate-intensity target, which is your best bet for getting a longer workout with a bigger calorie burn. Add some short, fast intervals toward the end and note the bpm to mark your high-intensity zone for when you want to push it.
Crack an egg for breakfast.
Go for a little extra protein first thing in the day and your brain will stave off the munchies later on, according to the latest findings from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Former breakfast skippers who ate a morning meal with a side of yogurt showed fewer feed-me brain impulses and felt fuller.
Incinerate more calories per step.
Burn 15 percent more calories (about 40 calories more per hour) by adding a slight incline (around 6 percent) to your normally flat 3.5-mile-per-hour walk, advises Mark Fenton, author of The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness. The steeper the hike, the bigger the spike in calories blasted at any speed.