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6 Calorie-Crushing Classes at Popular Fitness Chains Near You

When you’re working to lose weight, you want to get the most from every workout. With so many group fitness class options at every gym and boutique studio, it can be hard to know which one will give you the most calorie bang for your sweat buck.

Check out the six classes below, offered throughout the U.S. Each is known to ignite your metabolism during and after the workout, so you get even more calorie-burning benefits. Try them out and burn, baby, burn.

BAR METHOD

Burn factor: 400 to 500 calories in 1 hour

If you’ve ever thought barre class was just ballet, think again. A reasonably fit, 125-pound woman burns about 400 calories in a typical beginner/intermediate Bar Method class, says the chain’s vice president of teacher development, Kiesha Ramey-Presner. That same woman will burn upwards of 500 calories in a more advanced format. And then add another 100 calories burned after class from the buildup of lactic acid.

How does it do all of this? The Bar Method format uses intervals — strength work followed by stretching — to spark your heart rate and then allow you to recover, Ramey-Presner explains. Though not as intense as HIIT, it works your heart in a similar manner to burn calories. “The classes also intensely target the quads within the first 20 minutes,” Ramey-Presner adds. “The quads are the largest muscle group in the body, and working them helps you burn calories more efficiently for the rest of the day.”

If you can’t bring yourself to the studio, check out this list of 5 Barre Moves You Can Do at Home.


READ MORE > WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN TRYING A NEW CLASS [INFOGRAPHIC]


SOULCYCLE

Burn factor: 500 to 700 calories in 45 minutes

There’s a reason this pack of skull-and-crossbones-wearing fanatics is so fit. Spend one class vigorously cycling and dancing on your bike and you’ll burn an average 500 to 700 calories.

Although every instructor formats his or her class differently, you can expect alternating between faster (often referred to as “double time”) and slower paces. Explains SoulCycle instructor Ryan Lewis: “This switch between a fast pace with a low resistance and a slow pace with a high resistance for a climb has a similar effect on your heart rate as HIIT training, ultimately allowing the body to maximize how many calories are burned.”

Learn more about spin bikes in our Spinning 101 infographic.

ORANGETHEORY FITNESS

Burn factor: 500 to 1,000 calories in 1 hour

Orangetheory Fitness uses heart-rate monitors to help you see which “zone” you are in, i.e. how hard you are working during class. The more you’re in the orange zone, the more you’ll burn during and after class — to the tune of 500–1,000 calories during class, and more for up to 36 hours, the chain claims.

The class is split up into intervals on the treadmill and rowing machine, and on the floor doing exercises with weights, bodyweight and a TRX. You’ll hit every body part and get your cardio and strength done in one workout. For more background, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Orangetheory Fitness.

BARRY’S BOOTCAMP

Burn factor: Up to 1,000+ calories in 1 hour

Although each class focuses on a specific body area, the format for Barry’s stays the same: Half the time you’re on a treadmill, the other half you’re doing strength exercises on the floor with your bodyweight, dumbbells or a “booty band” exercise band. The treadmill is a mixed bag of sprints, hill climbs, hill sprints and even walking backward on the treadmill, and the instructors will encourage you to push yourself.

The chain claims its classes increase lean body mass, which can raise your resting metabolic rate by up to 15 percent. And that means more burn after you leave the studio. Check out our test run at Barry’s Bootcamp and see if it’s for you.

CROSSFIT

Burn factor: 261 calories in 20 minutes for the Cindy WOD

The CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) changes, clearly, daily. And it can be quite a calorie burner in a short period of time. Researchers asked seven men and two women trained in CrossFit to perform the Cindy workout: 5 pullups, 10 pushups and 15 air squats, repeated as many times as possible in 20 minutes. The average calorie burn for the group was 261 calories. Study author Brian Kliszczewicz, PhD, says there are a few reason CrossFit can burn a torcher.

“First, the majority of CrossFit workouts involve full body,” he explains. “As a general rule, the more muscle recruitment, the greater the caloric expenditure. Second, the majority of the exercises involve resistance, such as bodyweight in the case of Cindy. Resistance-based exercise commonly leads to greater excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, i.e. more calories. Third, perhaps the most important aspect is the intensity of the workout. The greater the exercise intensity, the greater the caloric burn is going to be.”

URBANKICKSASS AT CRUNCH FITNESS

Burn factor: Up to 700 calories in 45 minutes

Offered at Crunch locations nationwide, this dynamic, full-body class combines cardio kickboxing with high-intensity sports conditioning drills. You punch, kick, squat, sprint, lunge and more, and you’re sweating within minutes, says certified trainer Shane Barnard, creator of the class (and regular MyFitnessPal contributor).

“Combining punch and kick combinations with high-intensity interval training drills improves fat metabolism, increases functional strength and will increase your caloric after-burn,” she explains. It’s also nonstop movement, with options to make several exercises more challenging.


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Ranking 25 Popular Superfoods [Infographic]

If you’ve been curious about some of the health foods that have taken Instagram by storm, take a glance at our top 25 foods of the moment to learn what makes these picks so good for you.

1. ACAI

Acai is a rainforest berry loaded with antioxidants and anthocyanin pigments, said to provide a boost of energy. Enjoy it blended into a smoothie or as an acai bowl, topped with granola, nuts and your favorite fruits.

2. AVOCADOS

Avocados aren’t just for guacamole. These buttery fruits contain antioxidants, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber to help keep you satiated. Eaten straight out of its skin, smashed and spread onto toast, chopped and mixed into a salad or even blended into a smoothie — the possibilities are endless.

3. BEE POLLEN

Bee pollen is a ball of pollen granules created by worker bees as they fly from flower to flower, forming part of “bee bread,” the main food source for a beehive. Bee pollen is brimming with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, as well as 22 essential amino acids. Said to be great for the immune system and nervous system, bee pollen is also associated with regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Sprinkled on yogurt, in a smoothie or simply eaten by the spoonful are just some of the ways to enjoy this superfood.

4. CACAO

Cacao is the raw form of one of our favorites sweet treats — chocolate. Beans from the cacao tree are dried, fermented and minimally processed, and they are an excellent source of fiber, magnesium and iron. Cacao also contains flavanols associated with elevated mood and cognitive function. Raw cacao powder can be used in place of unsweetened cocoa powder in many recipes, and cacao nibs (chunky pieces of crushed cacao beans) can be added to oatmeal, acai bowls or baked goods to provide a satisfying crunch.

5. CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile food. Riced, puréed, made into a pizza crust (yes, really) or even added to a smoothie, this cruciferous veggie has 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C per serving, as well as healthy amounts of vitamin B6 and plenty of fiber. Because of its fairly mild and adaptable flavor, you can get really creative — try one of these recipes to embark on your love affair with cauliflower.

6. CHIA SEEDS

Chia seeds offer plant-based omega-3 fatty acids along with a boost of fiber. When added to liquid, they swell and form a gel with a consistency of custard, so they’re great for thickening smoothies or making a vegan pudding.

7. COCONUT

Coconut is a truly versatile food and can be incorporated into your diet in many forms, from fresh coconut meat to electrolyte-dense coconut water. Coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides, an easily converted energy source, while coconut flour is a gluten-free baking ingredient and coconut sugar is a low-glycemic sweetener.

8. DARK LEAFY GREENS

Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens and chard are full of iron, vitamin K, fiber and antioxidants. Spinach has a subtle flavor, making it a great addition to smoothies. Kale and chard are delicious in soups or simple sautés. And collard greens make excellent low-carb wrappers for tacos or veggies and hummus. Need ideas on how to get more green goodness? Check out these ways to cook seven of our favorite super greens.

9. DRAGONFRUIT

Dragonfruit, also known as pitaya, is a brightly colored tropical fruit that has a consistency similar to a kiwi and a flavor that is reminiscent of an earthy watermelon. This fruit is high in antioxidants that can help fight free radicals, as well as filling fiber and vitamin C. Eat as a snack, add to a fruit salad for a burst of color or blend into a smoothie.

10. FERMENTED FOODS

Fermented foods are naturally loaded with probiotics, so they help maintain gut health. Fermented vegetables can add flavor and texture to a salad or a quinoa bowl, but it doesn’t stop there: Reach for miso, natto, tempeh, pickles, kefir and raw cheese to get a tasty dose of probiotics plus the added benefit of an array of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

11. FLAX SEEDS

Flax seeds deliver a plant-based dose of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, making them heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory. To get the most benefit out of flax, grind the seeds, then sprinkle on oatmeal, salads or your favorite smoothie.

12. FREEKEH

Freekeh is a type of wheat that has long been a staple in Middle Eastern diets and has recently shown up on restaurant menus, touted as an “ancient grain.” It has twice as much fiber and more protein than quinoa. Freekeh has nutty, earthy flavor with a hint of smokiness, and it can be used in any dish that calls for whole grains.

13. GOJI BERRIES

Goji berries, also known as wolf berries, have been used in traditional Tibetan medicine for centuries. These tiny berries are high in antioxidants called carotenoids (like beta-carotene), iron and nearly twice the daily value of vitamin A. Mild and tangy, with a texture similar to raisins, these can be eaten on their own, used as a topping for overnight oats, or as a mix-in for granola or trail mix.

14. HEMP SEEDS

Hemp seeds are another heart-healthy seed that hold an enormous amount of protein, omega-6 (linoleic acid) and omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) fats. Studies have shown hemp seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease, and they have been said to alleviate symptoms of menopause. They can be eaten raw, cooked or lightly toasted, added to cereal, oatmeal and sprinkled over salad for a dose of healthy fats and fiber.

15. JACKFRUIT

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is rich in vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and phytonutrients. Eaten ripe, it has a slightly sweet taste, but unripe green jackfruit can serve as a substitute for meat — braised in a savory sauce, the cooked jackfruit has a consistency similar to shredded pork.

16. KOMBUCHA

Kombucha is a slightly sour, usually effervescent beverage made by fermenting sweetened tea. Today, you’ll find this beverage widely available at your local health food store and at some restaurants, where you might even be able to get it on tap. Kombucha is high in gut-friendly probiotics and low in calories.

17. MACA

Maca is a root traditionally used to balance hormones, increase energy and libido, and reduce stress. It is considered an “adaptogen,” a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stressors and normalize bodily processes. Maca powder contains plenty of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, too. Add this to smoothies or even your favorite recipes that include chocolate, as maca’s maltlike flavor and chocolate make a great combination.

18. MATCHA

Matcha is a powder made from the ground leaves of shade-grown green tea plants. This tea contains loads of antioxidants, and since you’re ingesting the entire leaf, you also get a dose of fiber and chlorophyll. The traditional serving is made with matcha powder and hot water, but if that doesn’t excite you, perhaps one of these recipes will!

19. MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS

Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps and chaga are an ancient, often wild-harvested group of foods that have been used for centuries in Eastern medicine. Each mushroom has a specific set of properties, ranging from boosting blood oxygen and promoting proper digestion to providing cardiovascular health support and improving the immune system. Today, dried and powdered medicinal mushrooms can be found at health food stores, and they can be easily added to soups, coffees, teas and more.

20. NUTS AND NUT BUTTERS

Nuts and nut butters, just like avocados, are rich in healthy fats and fiber and may contribute to lowering cholesterol. If you consume nut butters, steer clear of those with added sweeteners and opt for those that are 100% ground nuts. Choose nuts as a filling snack, or spread nut butter on toast, swirl into oatmeal or add to your morning smoothie.

21. SACHA INCHI

Sacha inchi, also known as Inca peanuts, are seeds that comes from the Peruvian highlands.They are full of proteins, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and fiber. The oil from this nutty superfood has a flavor that is lighter than olive oil, and it can be used for cooking or as the base for salad dressing.

22. SALMON

Salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fats, which can help reduce inflammation. Wild-caught salmon is a sustainable food source that provides up to 58% of your daily protein needs per 4-ounce serving, vitamin D and selenium, as well as bioactive peptides that can aid in regulating collagen synthesis, a key function in maintaining joint health. Salmon can be eaten simply pan-fried, grilled, broiled or made into burgers with your favorite spices and herbs.

23. SEAWEED

Seaweed (aka sea vegetables) contains high amounts of minerals including iodine, iron, magnesium and calcium and plenty of immunity-boosting vitamin C. Try a Japanese-style wakame or hijiki salad, or snack on seasoned nori. New to sea veggies? Ease into it by using kelp granules or dulse flakes on your food in place of table salt.

24. SKYR

Skyr, or Icelandic yogurt, is thicker and less sour than Greek yogurt, and, since it’s made with skim milk, is also naturally fat-free and lower in calories. Like Greek yogurt, skyr is high in protein and calcium, and it also contains probiotics that are said to help boost healthy bacteria flora in the digestive tract.

25. SPIRULINA

Spirulina, a freshwater blue-green algae, is 60% protein by weight, high in antioxidants and B-vitamins. Often available in a powder, it can be added to smoothies or sweeter juices, but if the fishy flavor of spirulina isn’t your favorite, opt for tablets instead.

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The 10 Most Popular Stories on MyFitnessPal in 2016

It’s been quite a year, MyFitnessPal users. We’ve collectively lost millions of pounds, logged thousands of different kinds of foods and done hours upon hours of workouts.

We’d like to think we helped you along your way this year. Below, we’ve pulled together the 10 most-read blog posts on MyFitnessPal in 2016.

Did you read them all? Employ any of the strategies we gave you? Prepare any of the recipes? Try out any of the workout routines? Let us know in the comments below! And if you missed any of the Top 10, now’s your chance to study up before the year is out…

10. The Workout You Need to Do If You’re Trying to Lose Weight
Weight-loss math is simple: You need to burn more calories than you take in. But it’s not necessarily about sweat sessions at the gym. Here’s one simple workout plan brought to you by SELF Magazine that’s optimized to help you shed pounds.

9. 5 Unusual Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
So about that simple math… maybe it’s not so simple. Your body may be a machine, but everyone’s is different. Here are some of things you might be doing that are affecting your ability to slim down.

8. Ask the Dietitian: What’s the Best Carb, Protein and Fat Breakdown for Weight Loss?
Let’s be honest, macronutrients are complicated. For every new diet fad you read about, there’s some new strategy as to how to approach three of the most important macros. Our dietitian broke through the fray to lay it out simply.

7. 15 of MyFitnessPal’s Most-Pinned Recipes
Want a quick gauge of what our most popular recipes are? The near 165,000 who follow MyFitnessPal on Pinterest already have their favorites, from apple pie muffins to jalapeño cheddar puffs and much more. Here’s some quick inspiration for your kitchen, vetted by the community!

6. A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning
Meal planning is a secret weapon — not just for weight loss and healthy eating but for simplifying your family routine and doing it all on a budget. Here’s our step-by-step guide for it all, from making a shopping list to the recipes you need to be successful.

5. The Most Common Weight-Loss Blunders Dietitians See
The pros have seen it all. And they know exactly what pitfalls pop up as obstacles on our weight-loss journeys. Here are 11 of those mistakes, as told by registered dietitians to SELF Magazine.

4. The 28-Day Squat Challenge You’ll Want to Start Now!
All hail squats? They’re easy, and they work out multiple muscle groups, including the butt, thighs and core. Give this challenge a try, and you’ll find you’re getting results — and having fun — with different variations on the humble squat.

3. How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?
Good news: You can definitely weigh yourself too often. And although you think you’re doing the right thing, you’re actually working against yourself. Here’s why small changes in your body affect your weight — and how to keep your eyes on the prize.

2. 10 Make-Ahead Breakfasts Under 300 Calories
Wouldn’t your mornings be easier if you had a hearty, healthy breakfast ready to go? Here were our picks for the 10 best recipes you can prep ahead of time, including hearty oatmeal cups, simple egg dishes, grab-and-go bars and — celebrate! — breakfast burritos!

1. 8 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar
That modest little doughnut hole isn’t going to hurt you, right? Maybe not. We’re all guilty of snacking on too much sugar — here are some of the telltale signs that you might not even realize you’re ignoring.

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