Weight management is all about calories in and calories out, but how fast your body burns calories depends on a number of factors. Your size and composition (muscle to fat ratio) impact how your body burns calories – the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. Also, men tend to burn more calories than women and the body’s metabolism slows year after year after age 40.
So when developing a healthy eating plan and working your walking program, keep these in mind.
Stop yo-yo dieting, it confuses your body. Drastically reducing your daily calories or skipping meals signals your body that you are starving. Your body will shift its metabolism into survival mode by burning fewer calories and storing more as fat. Also, when you eat too few calories you risk losing muscle and muscle burns more calories than fat.
Keep your body running efficiently by eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, approximately every three to four hours. This forces your metabolism to burn calories all day long. Think of it like stoking a furnace, a fat burning furnace.
Be realistic about your weight loss goal. Aim for a weight loss of one to two pounds per week which can be done by reducing your caloric intake by 500 calories a day. Studies show that people who lose weight gradually are more likely to keep it off.
Drink water, drink water, drink water. Your body needs water to process calories, so when you are dehydrated your metabolism may slow. Studies show that people who drink eight to 12 glasses of water throughout the day have a higher metabolic rate than those who drink four glasses.
Your body burns more calories digesting protein than fat or carbohydrates. Replace some of your carbs with lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, beans, eggs or low-fat yogurt and eat protein at every meal.
Build muscle to burn more calories. Incorporate strength training into your exercise plan and interval walking into your routine. Changing up the intensity levels while walking will increase your metabolic rate. Boost your walking speed a few minutes at a time during your walk. Also, increase resistance by walking up hills or adjusting the incline on the treadmill. Taking the stairs also helps build leg muscles.
Remember, the more you move throughout the day, the more calories you burn.