Burn Calories, Fight Fat With These Healthy Habits (cont.)

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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    1. Eat Low-Fat Dairy

      The calcium from low-fat dairy doesn't specifically help burn more calories, but it may do a couple of things to help discourage body fat. Results from a recent Danish study suggest that we might absorb fewer fat calories from a meal when we consume calcium from low-fat dairy.

      In another recent study, eating more calcium-rich foods -- including low-fat dairy products -- appeared to be linked to lower amounts of belly fat, particularly in young adult white males.

    2. Drink 8 Cups of Water a Day

      "Just about everything you call on your body to do burns calories, including absorbing and utilizing water while maintaining fluid balance (sometimes by excreting excess)," says Pope.

      Drinking almost eight cups of water (2 liters) may help burn nearly 100 extra calories a day, according to findings of a small study from Germany, notes Pope.

      That may not sound like much, but it could add up to 700 calories a week or 2,800 calories a month. And that's by doing something we should do anyway to keep our intestines and kidneys happy, and to help keep us from confusing thirst with hunger. (Pope does add a caution not to overdo it; it is possible to drink dangerous amounts of water.)

    3. Fidget

      Any type of movement requires energy, and fidgeting definitely qualifies as movement.

      "Older studies suggest additional calories can be burned each day with fidgeting," says Pope.

      One study even found that informal movement such as fidgeting may be more important than formal workouts in determining who is lean and who is obese.

      Diet and exercise are good topics to discuss with your doctor. Before starting a new exercise regimen or supplementing your diet, it would be good to talk it over with your doctor. If you have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications, there may be activities or dietary supplements that you should avoid.

    Published May 11, 2007.


    SOURCES: George A. Bray, MD, Boyd Professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La. Barry M. Popkin, PhD, director, Interdisciplinary Obesity Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Christopher Wharton, PhD, certified personal trainer; researcher, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University. Megan A. McCrory, PhD, research associate professor, School of Nutrition and Exercise Science, Bastyr University, Kenmore, Wash. Michael Corcoran, MS, graduate research assistant, Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, Tufts University. Jamie Pope, MS, RD, LDN, lecturer in nutrition, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing; author, The T-Factor Fat Gram Counter. Rudelle S. et al., Obesity, 2007; vol 15: pp 349-355. Brooks, BM, et al., Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2006; vol 25: pp 523-532. Niemeier H.M., et al., Journal of Adolescent Health, December 2006; vol 39: pp 842-849. Affenito, S.G., Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April 2007; vol 107 pp 565-569. Zhong, L., et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2006; vol 84: pp 551-555. Corcoran MP, et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2007; vol 85: pp 662-77. Astrup A., et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. March 2007; vol 85: pp 678-687. Dulloo, AG, et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 1999; vol 70: pp1040-1045. Kao Y. et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2000; vol 72 pp1232-1233. WebMD Medical News: "Fidgeting Separates Fat from Fit Couch Potato."

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