Fast track your fat burning
Your metabolism is your engine, it drives you, turning food into fuel and leaving fat for dust. So if weight loss is your goal, follow our lead for a full day of fat burning from morning to lights out
7am: put fruit in pole
Go…go… go! Get a grapefruit. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego found people who got their mornings off to a flying start with half a grapefruit – over a 12-week period – lost an average of 1.3kg (3.6lb). It’s all down to just one formula: the chemical properties in the citrus fruit reduce your insulin levels, which fires up your metabolism straight out of the grid.
7.30am: join the scramble
Add two scrambled eggs and a slice of bacon to your plate. A recent study at Purdue University found a high-protein breakfast fuels fat burning. This is since more energy is needed to digest it compared with a high-sugar or high-carb start to your day. It also avoids the blood sugar spike – and crash – that cereals packed with the sweet stuff can create.
8am: test your metal
Negotiate a sharp right turn into the weights room. “Devote a short amount of time to resistance work, to raise your metabolism,” says health psychologist James Lamper. Perform one set of 8-10 exercises per muscle group, 2-3 days per week. A University of Wisconsin study found when men completed a full-body workout with just three big-muscle exercises – bench press, power clean and squat – their metabolic rates were elevated for 39 hours.
11am: burn up on the wet
Things are hotting up, and though you might not welcome wet conditions you need to take on water. Add a few ice cubes to every glass – this burns around 70 extra calories every day (nearly 500 calories a week). This will raise your metabolic rate by 30%, according to Berlin’s Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center. “Water’s also an appetite suppressant that banishes bloating as it flushes out toxins,” says the centre’s Michael Boschmann. The effect starts within 10 minutes and hits top speed after around 35.
12.30pm: smoke your engine
Stop to fill up your tank with a smoked salmon, soft cheese and spinach sandwich, and throw in a pack of yoghurt-covered nuts from Pret A Manger. Each of these contain the metabolism-firing mineral magnesium and polyunsaturated fats, which increase your testosterone levels. “Raised testosterone levels give your metabolism extra spike – so stock up on fish, seeds and walnuts to rev up your fat-burning at lunchtime,” says Lamper.
3.30pm: stop to refuel
Keep your speedo maxed with half a chicken breast. “Metabolic rate goes up with the ingestion of food,” says nutrition scientist Jeff Volek, associate professor of kinesiology at University of Connecticut. “This is the thermic effect of food (TEF).” The TEF of protein is about 25%, so a quarter of the calories it provides are burned during digestion. (Carbs have a TEF of about 10%, and fat just 5%.) “So eating several small protein meals a day keeps your metabolism elevated,” says Volek.
5.45pm: weight to win
Return to the winning circuit of the weights room after work. “Muscle tissue burns more energy just ticking over than fatty tissue does,” says Dr Catherine Geissler, head of the Division of Health Sciences, King’s College. So, increasing your muscle/fat ratio will give you a higher resting metabolic rate. Geissler estimates that increased lean muscle mass will up your daily energy expenditure by up to 14% (286 calories per day).
7.30pm: track temperature
Pull in to give your engine some afterburn – courtesy of capsaicin, which is abundant in chillies. Chop a few fresh chillies into any dish to encourage thermogenesis – your body’s heat-generating response, which helps burn calories. “For maximum effect, it’s best to eat chilli-based foods on a daily basis,” says Jeya Henry, professor of human nutrition, Oxford Brookes University. Not an excuse to have The Raj on speed-dial, mind.
10pm: drink to victory
Finish by popping open a bottle. A milk bottle. The calcium will act as a metabolic trigger. Mozzarella cheese and two plain yoghurts a day will also help you clock up your 700mg RDA of calcium. “Milk is also a source of simple carbs, keeping insulin low,” says dietician Juliette Kellow. You need to keep insulin in a low gear as high levels tell the body to store fat – that’s one signal you won’t be penalised for ignoring.