You want to lose weight—and fast. But most speedy slim-down plans are not only ineffective, but they can be downright dangerous. How can you shed pounds quickly without compromising your health? According to experts, the key is following a moderate diet and exercise plan and revving up your metabolism to burn more calories. Follow these tips to give your metabolism a jump-start so you can lose weight both quickly and safely.

  1. Eat your breakfast.

    Not eating the first meal of the day can send your body into "starvation mode," encouraging it to horde, rather than burn, calories. In fact, several studies have shown that breakfast eaters are generally slimmer than those who don't eat the first meal of the day. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast of 300 to 400 calories every morning.
  2. Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day.

    Extending the time between meals or skipping them altogether can slow down your metabolism. So try to eat something every three to four hours. Rather than consuming one or two large meals, opt for four to six small meals and snacks throughout the day.
  3. Get moving.

    Doing at least 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week, as well as strength-training exercises, will boost your calorie-burning power. The best part? Because muscle burns more calories than fat, you'll speed up your metabolism even when your body's at rest.
  4. Spice it up.

    In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that red pepper boosted metabolism following a meal. Another study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that when male athletes sprinkled red pepper on high-carb meals, they boosted both their resting and active metabolic rates.
  5. Drink plenty of water.

    Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is not only essential to staying hydrated; it can also promote weight loss by making you feel full. In addition, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, drinking water can elevate your metabolism by up to 30 percent.
  6. Get the proper amount of rest.

    It's no secret that people who don't get their z's are more prone to weight gain. According to some experts, sleep regenerates lean muscle tissue and boosts metabolism, while a lack of sleep slows the rate at which your body burns calories. For best results, try to get seven to eight hours' rest every night.