4. When You Work Out
Mix things up with intervals: You're always looking for a way to shorten your workout, right? Well, step up your intensity and you'll burn the same number of calories or more in less time.
In one Australian study, female volunteers either rode a stationary bike for 40 minutes at a steady pace or for 20 minutes of intervals, alternating eight seconds of sprints and 12 seconds of easy pedaling. After 15 weeks, those who incorporated the sprints into their cardio workouts had lost three times as much body fat—including thigh and core flab— compared with those who exercised at a steady pace.
Bursts of speed may stimulate a fat-burning response within the muscles, says lead researcher Ethlyn Gail Trapp, Ph.D. Whether you ride, run, or row, try ramping things up to rev your burn: Start by doing three eight-second all-out, can't-talk sprints with 12 seconds at an easy pace between each effort. Work your way up until you can do 10 sprints over 20 minutes.
Take it slow: This isn't easy, but when you strength train, count to three as you lower the weight back to the start position. Slowing things down increases the breakdown of muscle tissue—yeah, it sounds bad, but all that damage you're incurring is actually a good thing. The repair process pumps up your metabolism for as long as 72 hours after your session, according to researchers at Wayne State University.
But pass on those featherweight dumbbells—you need to use weights that are heavy enough that you struggle to complete the final few reps.
Pop pills: Combining regular exercise with fish-oil supplements increases the activity of your fat-burning enzymes, reports a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Volunteers took six grams of fish oil daily and worked out three times a week. After 12 weeks, they'd lost an average of 3.4 pounds, while those who exercised exclusively saw minimal shrinkage. Look for brands containing at least 300 milligrams of the fatty acid EPA and 200 milligrams of the fatty acid DHA per capsule. Pop two of these two hours before your workout.
5. When You Get Home
Eat Nemo's pals: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are loaded with hunger-quashing omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help trigger the rapid transfer of "I'm full" signals to your brain, according to the National Institutes of Health. Bonus: A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon nets you 90 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin D, which will help preserve your precious calorie-craving, metabolism-stoking muscle tissue.
Skip the second mojito: Another reason not to over indulge—knocking back the equivalent of just two mixed drinks (or two glasses of wine or two bottles of beer) puts the brakes on fat burning by a whopping 73 percent. That's because your liver converts the alcohol into acetate and starts using that as fuel instead of your fat stores, report researchers from the University of California, Berkeley.
Hit the sack—early: When you sleep less than you should, you throw off the amounts of leptin and ghrelin — hormones that help regulate energy use and appetite — that your body produces. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who snoozed fewer than 7.5 hours per night experienced an increase in their body mass index. So make sure you get at least eight hours of rest.