Simple Things to Burn Calories When You Can't Work Out

Healthy snacks between meals can boost your metabolism.
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Exercising is the best way to burn calories, but sometimes injuries and busy schedules can make exercising difficult. Finding yourself in a situation where you cannot work out can be disconcerting, but there are several things you can do to keep your body burning calories during less active times. Being mindful of how many calories you are burning can help you avoid accumulating extra pounds during hectic periods or recuperation from an injury.


By the time you reach the age of 40, weight loss is much more challenging. Your metabolism slows over the years due to muscle loss. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, your metabolism slows by about 5 percent every decade after the age of 40. One way to counteract this effect is to eat more often, which will speed up your metabolism. Oz suggests eating within an hour of waking, along with three regular meals with healthy snacks between.

Other Factors

Besides your metabolic rate, there are two other factors that determine how many calories you will burn each day. According to, physical activity and food processing also determine how many calories you will burn each day. Physical activity includes all of the exercise and movements that make up your day. Food processing, or thermogenesis, is the calories it takes to digest your food. Food processing accounts for about 10 percent of the daily calories you burn.

Adding Steps Into Your Day

If you cannot get a sufficient workout due to lack of time, look for ways to build movement and more steps into your day. Little things like taking the stairs rather than the elevator and parking farther away can add up. Other ideas include getting up from your desk once an hour to walk around and not using the remote when you are watching television. Research has also shown those who fidget burn more calories throughout their day, so go ahead and tap your feet or drum your fingers if you're in the mood.

Eat Protein

Including lean sources of protein in your diet has many benefits. Eating protein with meals and snacks helps to stabilize your blood sugar, but it also takes more calories to digest protein compared to carbohydrates or fat. According to Oz, you burn twice as many calories when you are digesting proteins as compared to carbohydrates. He also suggests eating fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids. This packs a double punch because fish is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids increase enzymes that burn body fat.

Other Suggestions

Caffeine, ephedrine, green tea and capsaicin have all been studied for their metabolism-boosting effects. However, the amount of capsaicin you would have to ingest makes it impractical. It is not advisable to ingest large doses of caffeine, and ephedrine can cause unsafe side effects. According to the American Journal of Physiology, green tea has been shown to have positive effects on weight management, as well as properties that could help prevent obesity. Green tea is not a miracle weight-loss cure, though, and should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet.

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