3. Drink Caffeinated Green or Black Tea
Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants tend to increase the calories you burn. One likely reason is that they give you the short-term impression that you have more energy, which could mean you move more. Caffeine may also cause metabolic changes in the body that can result in more calories burned.
"Even older studies have suggested that 250 milligrams of caffeine consumed with a meal can increase the calories spent metabolizing the meal by 10%," says Jamie Pope, MS, RD, LDN, a nutrition lecturer at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Over time, this could be significant, Pope says in an email interview: "About 75 calories per day translates to over 2,100 calories in a monthâs time."
Over the past few years, some studies have hinted that green or black tea may have benefits beyond the caffeine they contain.
One study noted a reduction in food intake in rats that were given a polyphenol found in green tea. Another study, in humans, concluded green tea had heat-producing and calorie-burning properties beyond what can be explained by caffeine. When 31 healthy young men and women were given three servings of a beverage containing green tea catechins, caffeine, and calcium for three days, their 24-hour energy expenditure increased by 4.6%, according to the research from Lausanne University in Switzerland.
Drinking tea with meals may have another fat-fighting effect. Tea extract may interfere with the body's absorption of carbohydrate when consumed in the same meal, according to a study published in the September 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
While all these possible effects are slight, there is yet another bonus to drinking tea. Having a zero-calorie cup of tea instead of a beverage with calories (like a soda) will certainly reduce the number of calories you take in.
4. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Every time you eat a meal or snack, your gastrointestinal tract turns on, so to speak, and starts digesting food and absorbing nutrients. It costs calories to fire up the human digestion machine, so it makes sense that the more small meals or snacks you eat through the day, the more calories you'd burn.
There isn't much solid evidence for this effect, McCrory notes in an email interview. But many experts believe that, compared to eating one or two very large meals, this is a more healthful way of eating anyway. And if it leads to even a few extra calories being burned, even better!
5. Don't Skip Breakfast
Evidence supporting a link between skipping breakfast and increased body weight is growing, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Some research has shown that when people skip breakfast, they tend to eat more calories by the end of the day. Other studies have suggested that skipping breakfast is associated with a higher body mass index in teens.
While we could use more research in this area, eating a healthy breakfast certainly makes sense as a lifestyle habit.