Turn your body into a more efficient, calorie-burning machine with these four strategies. Plus, transform your body with our metabolism-boosting cardio and strength workouts

There is no secret formula that'll speed up your metabolism. The bottom line is the more calories you burn beyond those you consume, the more weight you will lose. But there are tricks you can try when it comes to diet and exercise. Try these ideas.


Eat a decent breakfast that contains lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Eating first thing after you get up raises the metabolism. One study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found people who got 20 percent of their total daily calories at breakfast were half as likely to gain weight as those for whom breakfast accounted for 11 percent of their calories.

Description: Eat a decent breakfast that contains lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats

Have a black coffee. The journal Physiology and Behaviour found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank black coffee was 16 percent higher than those who drank decaf. But, avoid the milk and sugar.

Eat six times a day. Vision Personal Training tells its clients that eating six small, high protein meals a day is worth 30 minutes of exercise. The reason? Eating regularly speeds up the metabolism.


Up your intensity . You can increase your intensity by exercising harder. The average woman burns 332 calories running on a flat treadmill for 30 minutes at 9 kmph (1,992 calories per week based on six workouts a week). If she increases her speed to 10 kmph, she'll burn 365 calories (2,190 per week). Add a 5 percent incline and she will burn 401 calories in 30 minutes (2,406 per week). Those small changes mean 198-414 more calories torched per week. In order to lose half a kilo, you need to cut or burn 3,500 calories, or 500 a day. By slightly increasing your effort, you can hit that goal faster.

Description: do Exercise

Start with a plan. Plan your workout in advance to focus on quality, not quantity. Consider this: in 30 minutes you can walk at 5 kmph and burn 125 calories. But if you alternate between running at 5 kmph and walking at 5 kmph, devoting 15 minutes to each, you'll up your caloric expenditure to 194 calories. By planning ahead to do intervals, you'll burn an extra 69 calories in the same amount of time. That adds up to an extra 414 calories per week.

Choose multi-muscle moves. Do exercises that work the upper and lower body simultaneously, like a biceps curl combined with a step-up. The more large muscle groups you use, the more calories you burn in the same amount of time.

Add plyometric moves. Including plyometrics such as jumping or hopping increases your calorie burn because you're lifting your own body weight off the floor. A 65kg woman will burn 329 calories in a 60-minute low-impact aerobic class; but make it high-impact and she'll burn 460 calories in the same time, a difference of 131 calories.

Shape's fat burning workout

Ever envied a friend's fast metabolism? Wished you could get yours up to speed? Your single most important action in improving how your body burns calories may be exercising more efficiently. The more calories you expend in a 24-hour period as a result of physical activity, the higher your metabolic rate, says metabolism expert Dixie Stanforth, of the department of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas in Austin. SHAPE asked her to design a workout to maximise caloric expenditure – in other words, to help you exercise smarter. We've also included five metabolism-boosting tips to step up your workouts and help you burn more calories, reduce fat and gain muscle.

Description: shape's fat burning workout

The average metabolic rate of people who drank black coffee was 16 percent higher than those who drank decafdrank

What you will get: Cardio + strength

Degree of difficulty: Challenging

Where you do it: Anywhere

Time: 20-50 minutes

What you need: Dumbbells, Medicenball, Step

The smarter exercise plan

(Cardio + strength and cardio-only workouts)

SCHEDULE you'll do three varied-intensity cardio workouts and three "Challenge Circuit" (cardio + strength) workouts per week on alternating days (see next page for instructions).

The Challenge Circuit includes three rounds of cardio, each followed by two or three multi-muscle exercises done without resting. The three cardio-only days should include two steady-state days and one interval workout day. Try this sample schedule:

DAY 1 Steady-state cardio

DAY 2 Challenge circuit

DAY 3 Interval cardio

DAY 4 Challenge circuit

DAY 5 Steady-state cardio

DAY 6 Challenge circuit

DAY 7 Rest

BEGINNER Start with two days of cardio-only (one steady-state and one interval) and two "Challenge Circuit" workouts each week, adding more workouts as you feel ready.

WARM-UP Do six minutes total including easy shoulder rolls and arm swings then take a brisk walk or march in place. Add more dynamic movement by walking across the room, alternating knee lifts, torso twists with arms extended at shoulder height in a "T" and reversing lunges with an alternate arm punch.

COOL-DOWN Stretch all the major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing.

The smarter exercise plan

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