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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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