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Practical tips to increase your metabolism and burn more fat (2/2)

by Philippe baudoin © Copyright
Sportman running

Boost your metabolism to stay slim!

Second part of our article, we explain here how physical activity and a suitable lifestyle can increase your metabolism and thus burn more fat even at rest.

Increase your metabolism through physical activity

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Physical activity, whether or not it is sporting, is an essential complement to a diet to lose fat. Any physical activity increases the metabolism at the time, or even afterwards. Some activities, such as weight training, will even increase the basal metabolic rate so that more energy is expended at rest.

Expend more calories at rest thanks to weight training

By building muscle mass, weight training increases the basic metabolism. The body must burn more calories at rest to provide the additional energy required by the extra muscle (see our article on the benefits of weight training to lose fat).

One to two 20-minute weight training sessions per week are enough to have a positive effect on your metabolism within 2-3 months. By gaining muscle, you will burn more calories per day, even at rest! Be careful, gaining muscle mass will make you gain a little weight, as muscle is heavier than fat, but your weight scale should logically show a lower percentage of fat after a while.

The benefits of the split

Fractional training, or interval training, consists of a repetition of accelerations (high or maximum intensity) and breaks. The breaks can be active (low intensity) or passive (minimum intensity). The duration of the effort times varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the objective to be achieved (weight loss, training, power development, etc.).

The split breaks the rhythm of the outing and requires the body to find the energy it needs quickly.

Zumba : 500 kcal/h !

Femme dansant la Zumba La Zumba est une activité cardio-vasculaire complète, au même titre que le footing, le vélo ou la natation. Une séance d'une heure permet de brûler jusqu'à 500 kilocalories. De quoi perdre quelques kilos superflus.

During your endurance outings (cycling, jogging, swimming, spinning, etc.), add a few sprints to your sessions, for example at the end of the course. During a jog or a bike ride, do 1 sprint of 5 to 10 seconds every 5 minutes or finish your session with 3 or 4 sprints of a few seconds, resting for 2 minutes between each sprint. You can also program sessions dedicated to splits where you alternate normal pace (60 to 70% of your FCmax) and accelerations (sprints). For more information, see our split workouts and how to lose fat by splitting. If you like to dance, Zumba may interest you. This fitness method is similar to a split because it alternates between fast movements and calmer moments.

Regular physical activity increases basal metabolic rate

During physical activity, we burn carbohydrates and fat. It is obviously the fat that we must try to burn in order to lose weight. However, training helps our body to be more efficient in destroying fat. For the same amount of calories expended, a trained athlete draws more from his or her fat reserves than a person who is not very well trained or who is sedentary. The latter will make greater use of the glycogen reserves stored in the muscles and liver. It is estimated that fat breakdown can be 20 to 30% higher with training! So, the more you train, the easier it is to lose fat in your next sessions! In other words, you will lose more fat for the same amount of effort.

Activities of daily living

You can work out just as well without practicing a sport. Any physical activity can do the trick to temporarily increase your metabolism. Household chores (cleaning, washing up, shopping), gardening, DIY, car maintenance are all activities that allow you to expend energy. Don't deprive yourself!

If you can't get out, regularly get up from your chair, stretch your arms and legs, take a few steps. Stretch your head upwards as if to grow taller. An upright posture stimulates the metabolism.

Here are a few activities of daily life and the corresponding energy expenditure:

ActivityExpenditure (kcal/h)
Rest (reference)60
Climbing stairs150
Doing errands250
Working in the office150
Playing with a child250
Energy expenditure for basic activities of daily living

Adapt your lifestyle

You can increase your metabolism by adjusting your lifestyle. A few simple changes can help.

Le saviez-vous ?

Mastiquer du chewing-gum aide à brûler des calories ! (*)

boules chewing gum colorées

Selon des chercheurs américains de la Mayo Clinic à Rochester dans le Minnesota, mastiquer du chewing gum augmente la dépense énergétique basale d'environ 20 % (source : The New England Journal of Medicine, 30 décembre 1999, vol.341, n°27, 2100). Trois heures de mastication quotidienne (soit environ 40 kcal dépensées) permettraient ainsi de perdre près de un kilo de graisse corporelle par an !

Attention : la mastication répétée peut avoir des effets néfastes sur l'articulation des mâchoires (usure des ménisques).

Change daily habits

The metabolism increases after a meal but slows down enormously when we sleep. An evening meal just before going to bed will not be digested optimally and will promote fat storage. This is why you should avoid eating dinner just before going to bed. It is best to eat your last meal at least 4 hours before going to sleep.

Keep your evening meal light. To digest it more quickly, do some moderate activity before bed. There's nothing like a 30-minute walk. In general, it is recommended that you do some activity after any meal. This increases the metabolic rate due to thermogenesis.

Walking to work, parking far away, running to catch the bus, taking the stairs instead of the elevator are all simple things you can do to help you get more exercise and stay fit.

Practice abdominal breathing

Oxygen is essential for the metabolic process. Without oxygen, fat cannot be consumed. So get as much air as you can.

Practice breathing with your abdomen instead of your chest. Abdominal breathing does two things. On the one hand, it provides much more oxygen than chest breathing. On the other hand, it helps to relax by eliminating nervous tension and stress. Stress, by producing hormones that slow down the metabolism, promotes the storage of fat. Deep, well conducted abdominal breathing increases the metabolism and will even make you sweat.

The effects of light

Expose yourself to light regularly. Light has a positive effect on the metabolism by giving the body a signal to move into action, while darkness invites it to rest and encourages it to save its reserves for a later need.

A cold shower burns calories

Take cold showers in summer. They stimulate your body and your metabolism! The basal metabolic rate increases significantly in the fight against cold and heat (see graph opposite), as the body works to maintain a constant body temperature. Its value can be multiplied by three when the body is subjected to high temperatures and by five when it is subjected to very low temperatures (effects of thermogenesis). In the summer, heat helps you burn more calories, as do sauna or hammam sessions.

graph of basal metabolism versus temperature
Variation of basal metabolic rate with temperature

You should also know that drinking cold water also increases your metabolism. According to a German study, drinking two large glasses of cold water (50 cl) would increase the basal metabolism by 30% for 90 minutes, or about 30 kilocalories spent without doing anything! By repeating this practice daily, you could burn more than 10,000 kilocalories in one year, the equivalent of one kilo of fat!

Philippe baudoin
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