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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Julia Ballew via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adnan Munye

Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert

What to Eat After a Workout (Revealed by Professional Trainer) When Is the Best Time to Work Out? (Science-Backed Answer) How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide) 15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners How to Burn Calories Effectively (The Healthy Way)

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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