How to Burn Major Calories, No Matter What You're Doing

Updated 12/01/17
how to burn calories
@allymayhayward

I wish more than anything that I was a "gym person." Every now and then, I get into the headspace where I'm willing and able to hit the machines (that's the term they use, right?), and that'll last all of three days. Then it's back to sinking into the couch cushions until I get bed sores (couch sores?) and the motivation kicks in again. Ergo, I'm always on the hunt for quick tweaks that'll help me burn calories, boost my metabolism, and keep me in shape without having to commit to full-on gym sessions.

Call me lazy, but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not alone here.

Below, I've rounded up tried-and-tested tips from Alissa Rumsey, RD, and author of Three Steps to a Healthier You; Philip Goglia, RD, co-founder of G-Plans and dietitian to stars like the Kardashians and Cara Delevingne; and Joselynne Boschen, fitness expert at health app Lifesum. Keep scrolling to learn how to burn calories without changing your entire life around.

While You're Brushing Your Teeth…

It's such a mundane, chore-like activity, so you might as well multitask and throw in a simple fitness move while you brush. Says Boschen, "Use this everyday activity to burn some extra calories and to give your thighs a good workout. I often brush my teeth pulsing up and down in a second position plié to make the most of this often rather boring activity. If you want to take this bathroom exercise even further, stay in the plié position while doing your makeup, and if you feel super strong, stay there while doing your hair too."

Also, building muscle, whether through small moves while you're brushing your teeth or from lifting weights at your leisure, is imperative for boosting your metabolism. Says Rumsey, "Muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest. So the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be."

While Commuting…

Taking mass transit is generally awful, but turning it into a way to burn calories makes it more tolerable. "Instead of making yourself comfortable by cuddling up on your seat, get used to always sitting on the edge of your seat, keeping your feet slightly lifted off the ground," explains Boschen. "This way, by the time you get to work, you will have properly activated your abs and burned some extra calories too."

While Waiting in Line..

"Standing in line, in the supermarket, or anywhere at all often feels like a waste of time," says Boschen. "But it doesn't have to be! I tell all of my clients to make any situation that involves waiting into an opportunity to work on their posture and tighten their abs and glutes. The best way to do this (unless you are happy to get down on the floor in the supermarket!) is the mountain pose. Standing still, dig your heels into the ground and lift through your abs, while drawing your shoulders down.

Keep this position for as long as possible, and you will feel your whole body working."

While Cooking…

"I always make sure to move about while cooking," insists Boschen. "Standing side kicks while stirring the veggies in the pan, or jump squats while waiting for an egg to boil—whatever movement you choose will help burn some extra calories, so get creative and keep active."

While Waiting for Your Coffee to Brew …

"Again, time waiting for the coffee to brew or the kettle to boil is time often wasted on checking your phone or watching TV," says Boschen. "Instead, burn some calories and work on your calf muscles at the same time by doing some calf raises. Use the kitchen countertop as support, holding onto it with feet parallel. Next, lock out your legs, and from this position raise your heels as high as you can while pressing your toes into the ground, and then lower your heels back down in a controlled movement.

I repeat this as many times as I can until my coffee or tea is ready!"

While Vacuuming…

"Vacuuming is an awesome way to burn some calories, and there are lots of things that you can do to make this activity a real workout," explains Boschen. "I like doing walking lunges while vacuuming, as it doesn't only make the house clean but also makes me feel the burn in both my legs and butt. To further intensify this workout, try keeping the arm that you're not using to hold the vacuum at a 90-degree angle, and then alternate arms for each room that you vacuum."

While Folding Laundry…

"Few things are duller than folding laundry, but you can make it more fun by combining the chore with the pleasure of improved balance and leg strength. Bending forward, try balancing on one leg while you're folding half the load, and then switch to the other side while folding the rest."

While Cleaning the Floor…

"This might not be one for every room of the house, but I like turning the cleaning of the floors in at least one room into this fab ab workout," says Boschen. "With damp towels on your hands, place yourself in a plank position. Make circular movements with one hand at a time, scrubbing the floor while you're activating the abs on both sides of that six-pack, one side at a time. If you manage to do the whole floor or even just your kitchen, you can give yourself a great round of applause, because this workout is a definite fat-burner."

While Eating…

Luckily, burning calories can also be as easy as eating the right foods (lazy girls, rejoice!). Dr. Goglia rounded up some of the best metabolism-boosting and fat-burning foods to incorporate into your diet below:

Carrots:

Carrots contain carotene, a form of vitamin A, which starts a fat-flushing reaction in your system. This reaction will literally wash out fat and waste quickly. The carotene transforms into vitamin A in the intestines and then speeds up your metabolism, which causes a reaction in your cells to remove fat deposits.

Celery:

Raw celery has a high concentration of calcium in a ready-to-use form, so when you eat it, the calcium is sent directly to work. This pure form of calcium will ignite your endocrine system. The hormones in your body will break up the accumulated fat build up. Additionally, celery has a high level of magnesium and iron that cleans out your system.

Garlic:

Garlic has mustard oils and these oils create a cleansing action in the body, as it is a natural diuretic. They promote a vigorous action of peristalsis, which is muscular contraction, and this will loosen fat and help wash out fats. They can also break down clumps of fat.

Horseradish:

Few venture to use it, but it has an amazing effect of dissolving fat in cells (no side effects) and also as a cleansing effect on the body.

Lettuce:

Lettuce contains iron and magnesium. These minerals will enter your spleen; your spleen helps your immunity and protects the body from illness. The spleen will use these minerals to make them stronger, and send them to cells and tissues. It will also help the liver, increase your metabolism, and wash out fatty cells. Darker lettuces have more minerals.

Tomatoes:

Tomatoes have high vitamin C and citric, malic, and oxalic acids. The acid will accelerate the metabolic process. It also helps the kidneys to release more water and helps to wash away fat. The natural acids with the enzyme-activated minerals prompt the kidneys to filter out large quantities of fatty deposits, and then you eliminate them from your system.

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Use this diuretic in small quantities. You can add it to your salad as a dressing. What makes this such a powerful diuretic is this: It is made from apples and the malic acid in apples will create a fat-burning process. Another factor with this vinegar is the fermentation process causes the vinegar to have constructive acids that join with alkaline elements and minerals in the body. This produces a cell-scrubbing effect. It also contains high levels of potassium, which has an antiseptic quality to that helps to eliminate fat deposits.

Rumsey recommends always staying hydrated as well: "Studies have shown that staying hydrated can keep your metabolism stoked throughout the day. Plus, being well-hydrated makes you better able to listen to your hunger and fullness cues. Often, when people think they are hungry, they are really just dehydrated." To kick your water up a notch, Goglia recommends starting the day with 16 ounces of water with a little lemon squeezed in it to help promote digestion.

Related Stories