1. Use interval training to rev up your workout. Walk for the same amount of time at the same intensity day in and day out and your body will get as bored with your workout as you do. Throw in some variety with interval training, which involves changing the intensity of your workout throughout your exercise session. Every 5 minutes of your walk, jog for 1 minute. Every 5 minutes of your bike ride, shift into a higher gear and pedal hard for a minute. If you swim, speed up every other length. You'll burn more calories in the same amount of time.
2. Fidget. People who drum their fingers or bounce their knees burn at least 500 calories a day. That adds up to losing 1 lb a week.
3. Keep a small squeeze ball with you and grip and squeeze it frequently during the day. It's one of the few exercises you can do at any time. You'll build up the muscles in your hands – and muscle, wherever it is, burns a lot of calories.
4. Don't starve yourself. Cutting out too many calories can backfire in more ways than one. Try to subsist on morsels and your metabolism will slow down so much that you'll not only stop losing weight, but you'll be lucky if you can peel yourself off the couch.
5. Put five rubber bands around your wrist every morning. That's how many 16-ounce bottles of water you should drink during the day to rev up your metabolism, helping to burn more calories. At least, that's what German researchers found when they got 14 participants to drink about 500 ml of water. The volunteers' metabolic rate – or how quickly they burned calories – jumped a third within 10 minutes of drinking the water and remained high for another 30 or 40 minutes. The researchers estimated that, over a year, increasing your water consumption by 1.5 litres a day would burn an extra 17,400 calories, or about 2.25 kg (5 lb) worth. Since much of the increased metabolic rate is due to the body's efforts to heat the liquid, make sure the water you're drinking is icy cold.
6. Turn up the heat with hot peppers. Some studies show that very spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism. Specialist grocers often stock many different kinds of peppers. Buy one type a week and add some to various meals. Spice up your scrambled eggs with minced jalapeño, add a little fire to beef stew with half a Scotch bonnet pepper.
7. Exercise outside. Maybe it's the fresh air, maybe it's the sunshine, but something about exercising out in the open makes you walk or run faster than doing the same exercise in the gym.
8. Eat five small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. You might think you should eat less often if you want to lose weight, but that's just not the case. By eating every few hours, you keep your metabolism fired up and ensure it doesn't slow down between meals in order to hang on to calories. A "meal" can be as small as a cup of soup.
9. Sip a couple of cups of coffee throughout the day. Studies find that the caffeine in coffee increases the rate at which your body burns calories. This does not mean, however, that you should order a fancy calorie-packed frappuccino. And skip the espresso if it makes you toss and turn at night.
10. Don't worry if you've been yo-yo dieting. There's a myth that if you've spent your life losing and gaining the same 10 to 20 lb, your metabolism gets out of kilter and ends up slowing right down. Don't believe it. When researchers reviewed 43 studies on the topic, they found no difference in the metabolic rates of yo-yo dieters compared to those of everyone else.
11. Walk with intent – and intensity. Burn more calories in the same amount of time with these strategies:
1. Swing your arms when you walk. You'll burn 5 to 10 per cent more calories.
2. Wear a weighted vest – another great way to burn calories. But leave the hand and ankle weights at home. They throw you off balance and could result in injury.
3. Walk on grass, sand or a gravel path instead of the road. It takes more muscle power to glide smoothly over these uneven surfaces (especially sand) than over asphalt.
4. Use walking poles. A U.S. study found that you get a much more intense workout than you would without the poles.
5. Walk along the shore of a river or lake with your ankles in the water. The resistance burns more calories and gives your muscles an added workout.
12. Increase the protein in your diet. There is some evidence that if you increase your protein intake to the upper end of the recommended range (roughly 20 per cent of overall calories), the amount of energy you expend at rest will remain the same even while you're losing weight. Normally, as you lose weight, your body adjusts and you burn fewer calories at rest.