Advertising
Advertising

Published on June 13, 2019

How to Burn Calories Effectively (The Healthy Way)

How to Burn Calories Effectively (The Healthy Way)

If you’ve been proactive with your health, and are exercising regularly, you will probably look at how to burn calories effectively while still staying healthy.

Fortunately, there are different things you can do with exercise, diet, and lifestyle to burn more calories than usual.

And firstly, you need to understand calories better.

A calorie is the energy content in food but if we’re getting technical, a calorie is what it takes to raise the temperature of one litre of water by one degree.

Calories are determined by using calorimeters[1] which are like mini incinerators. They involve a chamber surrounded by water where freeze-dried powdered food is placed and incinerated. The temperature of the water is then measured, and this is how we determine the energy content of food in kilocalorie form.

Also, this is why it is said ‘All foods aren’t created equal’ after all, one handful of lettuce will burn up quickly, leading to a minimal rise in water temperature, while the same portion size of almonds will be much denser thus leading to higher temperatures. One cup of almonds will have around 530 calories while one cup of lettuce will have maybe just five.

However, our body doesn’t “incinerate” calories, it digests them. This makes calorie counting far from a perfect science because not only do you not know exactly how many calories you’re burning each day, you cannot be sure of the calorie content in food.

Advertising

The FDA allows labels to be off by as much as 20%, in either direction and most nutritional information comes from databases and not actual calorie measurement. This doesn’t mean calories are insignificant, far from it. But trying to measure things down to the calorie will be next to impossible.

So, how do we make sure we’re burning calories effectively?

1. Focus on Real Whole Foods

When you focus on genuine food, and not things that come out of a package, or a box, you make it much easier for your body to process those calories.

Your body is designed to manage calorie intake sufficiently without things getting thrown out of whack. It has been doing this since the beginning of time, and it’s only when we add artificial and processed ingredients to our dirt that things get messy.

Think of your metabolism like a sink, designed to drain water effectively. If we give our body real, whole food, it’s able to process and drain it effectively. However, if we put things such as hair and other gunk in the sink, the drain will get clogged up, leading to flooding.

Hair and gunk have the same effect on the sink as processed food has on our bodies. Processed food does not allow our body to run optimally instead it promotes fat accumulation and poor health.

2. Strength Training

Clearly, exercise is important for burning calories, but we will look at specific forms of exercise which are more effective than others.

Advertising

Strength training will do a few things. They take a good amount of effort to perform and require a lot of calories to provide energy. They also help us build lean muscle and the leaner the muscle we have, the better it is for our metabolism.

Muscle requires calories to maintain it, which means even at rest, our body is burning calories. Strength training improves insulin sensitive thus allowing our body to better handle sugar s because they will be processed more effectively, leaving us less likely to end up storing it as body fat.[2]

3. High-Intensity Interval Training ‘HIIT’

Most people know of HIIT as it’s one of the best workouts you can do. It also is a great calorie burner and can burn off more calories in a fraction of the time spent doing regular steady state cardio.

HIIT training involves doing an all-out exercise (such as bike sprints or regular sprints) for around 30 seconds, followed by a 90-120 slower-paced recovery period. You can do anywhere from 3 to 8 rounds of this, leading to a workout that won’t take you long.

HIIT is similar to strength training, as it uses a lot of calories. They are tough workouts, but the good news is they don’t take as long and burn more calories in ten to fifteen minutes compared to an hour of walking on a treadmill. This is why sprinters look leaner than marathon runners.

Another benefit of HIIT is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption ‘EPOC’. This is an “afterburn” effect that allows our body to burn calories long after the workout is done. Our body needs a lot of oxygen to perform a HIIT workout and it needs to replenish it – and this is done by burning calories.

We can burn calories for up to 24 hours after doing a HIIT workout.[3] The great news is we do not need to work out every day to get these benefits, just 2-3 times a week can be effective.

Advertising

Here’s a beginner guide to HIIT: How To Choose The Best Moves For Your HIIT Workout

4. Tabata Training

This is HIIT ramped up to the next level. Tabata’s were invented for Olympic athletes as a super intense training method but, it’s one that will also act as an amazing calorie burner.

Tabata is a four-minute workout and as bizarre as it may sound, there’s a lot of science behind its design. Tabata follows the same breakdown as a HIIT workout but here the intense exercise is done for 20 seconds followed by a ten second rest, over 8 rounds, for a four-minute total.

The great thing about Tabata is that it can be done with a bodyweight exercise such as burpees or mountain climbers and can be done anywhere.

Of-course, bodyweight will add to the intensity of the workout as, pushing us to our limit. At first, it may not feel like it can but it is important to preserve because once at the half-way point, the rest periods will feel insufficient.

For extra calorie burning, Tabata can be added to the end of a strength training workout and can be done every other day.

5. Eating Spicy Food

Here’s one that doesn’t require you leaving the dinner table! Eating spicy food such as jalapeno peppers, cayenne, chilis, or a hot sauce can give your metabolism a boost by up to 8% because of capsaicin in them.[4]

Advertising

Eating spicy foods increase our body’s thermogenic output by burning fat to create heat thus we feel warmer and our sinuses clear up. Capsaicin can also prevent weight gain, talk about a double whammy!

6. Drink Cold Water

This will not burn as many calories as a good HIIT session but since we have to drink water throughout the day, we may as well burn calories while we’re at it.

Not only does water keep us hydrated and quenching our thirst, drinking it cold can give us a temporary metabolism boost.

With cold water, our body must warm it up thus creating a thermogenic effect. It varies a lot on the individual, but there are various studies showing that drinking 17-ounces of cold water may increase calorie burning by at least 4.5% to up 30 % for 30-40 minutes.[5]

Final Thoughts

When considering how to burn calories effectively, it is important not to forget that our body has this ability built into it.

We can rely on natural methods to boost calorie burning and improve our health. Not only are these natural methods healthy, they generally don’t cost much and are easily added into you most lifestyles.

Finally, focusing on diet, real whole foods, will allow our bodies to turn into a calorie burning machine.

More Articles About Staying Fit

Featured photo credit: Julia Ballew via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adnan Munye

Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert

15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners How to Burn Calories Effectively (The Healthy Way) How to Lose Water Weight Fast And Naturally 13 Most Common Muscle Building Mistakes to Avoid 15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Trending in Physical Strength

1 17 Healthy Late Night Snacks for When Midnight Cravings Hit 2 15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners 3 Possible Side Effects of Probiotics (And Why They Usually Pass) 4 12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) 5 25 Healthy Habits for a Fitter Body and Happier Mind

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

Advertising

2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

Advertising

Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Advertising

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

Advertising

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

Read Next