How to Burn More Calories in Less Time

There's no instant way to lose weight.  It takes diligent work and dedication and won't happen overnight.  It took a while to gain that weight, right?  The good news is that there's no secret to weight loss success:  no magic pills, perfect food or sure-fire exercise fad. It's all a matter of burning more calories than you eat with a healthy diet and exercise.  But if you're looking for a way past a weight loss plateau or hoping for a jumpstart, we have a few tips for burning more calories in less time.

First, let's understand the role of metabolism. The Mayo Clinic says, "Weight isn't necessarily directly linked to metabolism.  Instead, it's dependent on the balance of total calories consumed versus total calories burned. Metabolism is the engine that burns these calories. During this complex biochemical process, calories - from carbohydrates, fats and proteins - are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Your basal metabolism is the amount of energy required for basic body functions. Your ability to change basal metabolism is limited. However, you can increase daily exercise and activity to build muscle tissue and burn more calories."

If you already work out, your basal metabolism runs higher than those who don't. Unfortunately, your body can get used to a never-changing exercise routine and create a frustrating plateau where you don't lose weight. Fitness experts know a few hints for knocking us off that plateau so we can burn more calories during our workout.

1. Drink green tea, coffee and water.  Studies show a link between drinking green tea and a more efficient metabolism.  The same goes for a couple cups of coffee.  Just don't add calories with sugar or cream.  Weight loss experts have long supported water as a lubricant for a healthy metabolism and say many confuse thirst with hunger and eat instead of drinking water.

2. Work harder.  You'll burn more calories running for 30 minutes than walking or by using a higher-level intensity on the elliptical trainer.  Challenge yourself by picking up the pace.

3. Interval training.  Change your pace, intensity level or activity every five minutes of your workout to challenge muscles to burn more calories.  Start with a brisk walk then switch to a jog for five minutes. Try circuit training - changing weight machines and cardio equipment frequently at a brisk pace.  Whatever you do, mix it up.

4. Switch sports.  If you're a runner, switch to swimming.  If you're a biker, switch to rowing.  Cross training keeps your body guessing.

5. Lift weights.  The bigger your muscles, the more calories you'll burn both during and after exercise.

6. Eat protein at every meal. It takes more calories to digest protein than carbohydrates and keeps you fuller longer.

7. Fire it up:  Studies show eating spicy foods may also rev up your metabolism.  Add fresh or dried chilies to your recipes.