“The problem with dieting,” I hear a lot of women say, “is that it takes a little too long. If I want to look amazing for my anniversary next month, I should’ve begun losing weight way back in October. Now when I’m finally ready, it’s already too late.” Well, not really. Taking the lifelong approach to weight loss is clever simply because it means you’ll lose your pounds slowly and steadily. But there are certainly ways to stimulate your metabolism so you burn fat and lose weight more quickly. Here are several of my favorite no-fail jump starts.

Watch Your Fluids

1. Drink tea. A recent study compared the metabolic effects of green tea with that of a placebo. Scientists found that the tea drinkers killed about 70 additional calories in a 24h period. Believe it or not, those 70 calories per day add up to a total of 7.3 pounds of fat a year. It’s not something extraordinary, it’s science. Researchers found out that the difference is caused by metabolism-enhancing antioxidants known as catechins that are found in green tea.

2. Avoid calories in your drink. Researchers now know that our bodies do not register liquid calories in the same way they do solid calories. Drinking a mocha, for example, will not make you feel satisfied the way that eating a bowl of spaghetti will. It means that although the mocha actually has a greater number of calories than the spaghetti, you are still more likely to crave a second cup from your favorite coffee shop than another plate of pasta. So control your intake of juice and soda, coffee and wine. If you consume one of each of those drinks during the day, you’ll have taken in at least 800 additional calories by bedtime. And you will still be hungry.

Exercise To Lose Weight

3. Get a set of five-pound weights. It’s a great investment you will never regret. Here is why: Strength training builds lean muscle tissue that kills more calories. Exercise at your workplace or at home. The more lean muscle you build, the faster you’ll slim down. How do you start training? Try to do some push-ups or squats. Use your weights to do simple biceps curls or triceps pulls at home or in your office. Do these exercises 3-4 times a week. You will soon see a significant improvement in your physique.

4. Lose that salt. Salt contributes to water retention; that makes you look and feel bloated. Do you consume a lot of sodium? Most likely — the daily value suggests no more than 2400 milligrams of salt each day (or about one teaspoon), but most people are having more than twice that amount. So keep an eye on your salt intake. It doesn’t just mean abandoning the saltshaker. Hidden sources include canned soups and drinks (a serving of V8 juice has 800 mg of sodium), salty junk foods such as chips or pretzels and many other prepackaged foods.

Heat Things Up to Lose Fat

5. Spice your foods up. Angelo Tremblay, director of the division of kinesiology at Laval University, in Canada, found that eating hot vegetables such as peppers can boost one’s basal metabolism (the total calories the body burns at rest). What is the reason? A compound (Capsaicin) found in jalapeno and peppers can increase your body’s release of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, that can stimulate your metabolism and your ability to “kill” calories. Besides it, eating hot peppers might reduce your appetite helping to curb your cravings. So spice up your veggies, consume low-calorie chili or salsa (try them on different salads or baked potatoes), and you’ll quickly notice how the pounds come off faster.

6. Get some good sleep. Even though it sounds funny, sleep deprivation can make you obese — and not just because you’re susceptible to cases of the late-night munchies. Females who get less than 4 hours of sleep per night have a much slower metabolism compared to those who snooze for a full 8 hours, according to researchers at the University of Chicago. Thus, don’t skimp on your zzz’s, and you’ll be very much rewarded with an extra edge when it comes to burning pounds quickly.

Move to Lose Weight

7. Go for a night walk. Don’t get me wrong — exercising at any moment is beneficial for you. But evening activities may be especially great because a lot of people’s metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of any physical activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for other several hours, even after you’ve stopped moving. Here is a basic explanation: Those dinner calories have less of an opportunity to take up permanent residence on your hips.

8. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Skipping meals will never make you lose weight more quickly. That strategy backfires simply because your body thinks that food is in short supply, so it slows your metabolism significantly in order to conserve energy. Over time, the results are that when you do consume food — even if you eat the same foods as always — your organism will be much slower to use the calories as fuel, creating a backlog of unwanted fats. If a crazy day makes a sit-down meal impossible, get an energy bar or some fruit in your bag, anything that will keep you away from going hungry.

9. Get additional twenty minutes of exercise. If you’re on a diet, most likely you are already working out a few times a week. (Not the case? Well, you must start then!) But whether you exercise or not, you may get a leg up on all those other weight-loss wannabes by performing a little something extra each day. Take the stairs and not the elevator; walk to the bus or train, or even all the way to the office; go shopping with your best friend instead of sitting over coffee. Take the dog out, garden and even houseclean. It all increases the number of calories you burn. You don’t need to go for a jog (although that is helpful) to speed up the process of weight loss. Twenty minutes of moderate exercise a day means you’ll burn about 700 calories.

Drink a lot of Water!

10. More Water! You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it in the future. That’s simply because drinking 64 ounces of water on a daily basis is one of the easiest ways to speed up weight loss. Your organism needs water in order to efficiently metabolize stored fat. When you shortchange your supply, you are more likely to slow down that process. That means it’s more time consuming for you to burn calories. An easy 8 glasses a day will keep your body running smoothly.

11. Don’t buy into marketing tricks. At any given time, there are millions of weight-loss types in the marketplace that state to have the ability to take off ten pounds in ten days, or something like that. Desperation can tempt us to try whatever, but you and I both understand that these schemes don’t work. Save your dollars, but more importantly, save yourself from the emotional pain when these tricks fail. Be serious. Jump-start your weight-loss program in the right ways that make sense, and not only will you be skinnier, you’ll be a lot happier too.

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