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  • 12/23/2008

5 Secrets to Staying Thin for New Year

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If you’re anything like the average American, you’re nearly a pound heavier after Thanksgiving than you were the day before. That’s because you just ate your way through the most calorie-riddled day of the year.

Between breakfast, snacks, drinks, desserts and the feast itself, the average person consumes more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving - more than twice your recommended intake.

Now here’s the worse part: Between now and New Year’s, you’ll eat on average an extra 600 calories per day! That means gaining an addition six pounds heading into the new year - if you’re not careful. Here are 5 fitness secrets that will not only help you shed that Turkey Day bloat, but will keep you lean and fit throughout the holidays.

1. Volunteer to do the dishes. Studies show that the energy you burn outside the gym (called "nonexercise activity thermogenesis," or N.E.A.T., for you science buffs out there) can be greater than what you’re burning during your regimented exercise routines.

Raise your N.E.A.T. by simply staying on your feet and doing some sort of activity - like helping out in the kitchen - instead of heading right to the couch.

 Another reason to take a stand against weight gain: Sitting shuts down your fat burners, according to University of Missouri scientists. After examining the muscle tissue of people being active and of those kicking back, the researchers concluded that parking your butt switches off an enzyme that prevents fat storage. Keep in mind, you burn one more calorie per minute when standing than when you are sitting.

kids washing

2. After eating wait 2 hours, then go for a walk or run. It’ll help keep you out of the leftovers. In a recent San Diego State University study, scientists found that that people who exercised after they ate maintained lower hunger levels 5 hours longer than those who exercised before a meal.

The researchers haven’t yet pinned down the mechanism, but speculate that exercise may lower the concentrations of a peptide-YY, a hormone that increases appetite. The study participants worked out 2 to 3 hours after they ate. Plan accordingly.

3. Clip on motivation. Turns out, simply wearing a pedometer can make you more active. British researchers discovered that when study participants wore pedometers and logged their daily steps in a journal, they increased their activity level by 16 percent.

“People turn competitive with themselves and try to beat their previous number,” says study author Stacy Clemes, Ph.D.

It weighs less than an ounce and tracks your activity in steps, miles, and calories burned - and is great way for helping you boost your N.E.A.T.


4. Get a good night’s sleep. Just one night of poor shuteye makes you crave fast food, reports a study from Baruch College, in New York City. The reason: people just don’t feel like cooking when they’re tired and irritable, say the researchers.

You, however, should try to buck the impulse: People who regularly consume two fast-food meals weekly gain an extra 10 pounds over 15 years, compared with those who eat more meals at home.

5. Start lifting weights on Friday. This is especially important for women. Here’s why: Ball State University researchers put overweight people on a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet, and divided them into three groups - one that didn’t exercise, another that performed aerobic exercise 3 days a week, and a third that did both a similar amount of aerobic exercise but added weight training 3 days a week.

The results: Each of the groups lost nearly the same amount of weight - about 21 pounds. But the lifters shed 5 pounds more fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? Because their 21-pound weight loss was almost 100 percent pure fat, while the other two groups lost just 15 pounds of lard and more than 5 pounds of metabolism-boosting muscle.

And besides protecting your muscle, lifting weights has been shown to raise the rate your body burns fat for up to 39 hours after you work out. What’s not to love?

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