Burning calories tends to be more efficient in motion, but that doesn’t mean you have to snuff the torch when you’re stationary. These 16 tricks will help you burn fat even when you’re planted in place.
1. Eat Your Beets
University of Exeter researchers found that the nitric oxide in beetroot improves circulation immediately, so eat one after lunch to back up your metabolism. Beetroot ramps up alertness and makes your evening gym session 20% more effective.
2. The Desktop Six-Pack
Turn clearing your emails into a workout. “On your seat’s edge, tense your abs, lean back, lift your feet and hold it for 10-second bursts,” says Joakim Christoffersson, author of Nano Workouts. Twice daily for a week has the effect of a full abs session.
3. Pepper the Fat
“If you have to be stuck in a chair all day, you need your metabolism firing as fast as it can,” says nutritional scientist Christine Bailey. “Cayenne pepper is the best condiment to accelerate it. Keep it in your drawer; shake it on everything.
4. Go Nuts
Keep a stash of macadamias at hand – new research has found that they’re the most effective snack to maintain a healthy circulatory system. They’re also high in protein, which keeps your blood sugar level steady, warding off the post-lunch carb indulging.
5. Hit Stress in the Neck
The stress hormone cortisol sends you snack hunting. Flush it from your system by tilting your head back. Boston University found that your neck is a pressure valve; roll your head 10 times each way to lower your blood cortisol—and desire for the cookie jar.
6. Seek Out the Citrus
An orange a day keeps your digestive enzymes in good form, reducing your body’s fat storage. Keep them nice and cool in the fridge, and you’ll improve nutrient availability by 20%. Now, orange you glad we told you that?
7. Posterior Chain Reaction
Weight loss doesn’t have to be a pain in the backside. By tightening your glutes 50 times consecutively, you’ll give your body a growth-hormone spike (the key hormone in weight loss). Prep for a client meeting and your cheeks will squeeze on their own.
8. Target the Root Cause
Add fresh ginger to white fish. It speeds up your metabolism, and aids circulation—vital if you’re sitting eight hours a day. “Put a couple of slices in a container with some fish and microwave for six minutes,” says Bailey. It makes fish smell more office-friendly too.
9. Schedule Standing Breaks
Juststand.org reckons we burn over 400kJ more by getting up off the chair every few minutes. You’ll also burn up any glucose in your bloodstream, so it isn’t converted to fat.
10. Stretch to Burn
While seated, reach down to the outside of your left foot with your right hand and gently pull up. Then the other side. Staying supple this way will keep your muscles awake, fend off back pain and keep your metabolism turned on.
11. Under-the-Counter Remedy
To burn energy on the sly, do leg extensions under your desk. Sit up straight and tense your abs. Lift a leg straight out to hip level with your foot pointing skywards. Hold the position for 10 seconds and switch. Once every two hours and you’ve spent another 50kJ.
12. Fear Fitness
Struggling with your choice of DVD this weekend? Invite Jack Nicholson in and say goodbye to a Crunchie’s worth of kilojoules. A University of Westminster study found that people watching classic horror The Shining burned 770kJ during the film.
13. Chair Lifts
Need a lift? Smash through kilojoules with five sets of these. Trap your feet under the seat to fix your position, then move your chest to your knees. To feel some real benefits, do 10 reps at a time… but preferably when your boss isn’t looking.
14. Raise the bar
Calf raises are the best exercise to get your heart pumping while seated. Place a weight on your thighs – a couple of books or your gym bag will work – then go onto the balls of your feet, contracting your calves for 20 reps. That’s another 250kJ wasted.
15. Revive Dead Time
“See every moment you don’t have to look at the screen as an opportunity,” says Martin Gibala from McMaster University. If you’re on the phone for more than an hour, just grab something and rep out a few arm extensions. The office stapler will do just fine.
16. Learn the Double Dip
Grab your arm rests, lift your feet slightly off the ground and engage your stomach muscles. Then press down with your hands to raise your body up off the chair, until your arms are straight. Hold, then lower into the chair. Repeat until your next email.