Could heart-pounding fun between the sheets help you get slimmer faster? Definitely! But the reasons an active sex life promotes weight loss go beyond its potential to torch calories. They touch the core of this ultimate mind-body-soul experience. What the heck are we talking about? Consider these five ways sex helps get and keep you slim. Some will surprise you, and all will please you.
1. Sex blasts calories. Instead of burning a measly 70 calories per hour lying in bed together watching Netflix, invest in some highly enjoyable exercise. A mere 25 minutes of sex -- we're figuring 10 minutes of foreplay, 15 minutes for the main event -- burns 88 calories if you're a 150-pound woman, 106 calories for a 180-pound guy. That's the same energy you'd expend doing a light workout on a rowing machine or stationary bike. Trying out a fun new position that feels like an adults-only game of Twister will boost the burn rate a little. And going for a second round will, too. Arriving at the Big O gets your heart pounding as much as bounding up a tall flight of stairs.
2. Sex curbs carb and fat cravings. Regular sex can help keep levels of cortisol, the high-anxiety hormone, in check. That's good news, because too much cortisol boosts your appetite for high-fat, high-carb goodies and tells your body to store the extra calories around your midsection. A romp in the hay short-circuits cortisol's ill effects. Turns out sex dampens your body's "fight or flight" response to tension-provoking events. Intercourse, specifically, also calms your blood pressure, even when everything around you is going haywire. You remain serene instead of being possessed by an unstoppable craving for Twinkies. This stress buffer can translate into a slimmer midsection. Wondering exactly how researchers measured the effect of sex on stress?
3. Sex can double your fat loss. How? By helping you sleep like a baby. Skimping on sleep -- whether you're catching up on work or just tossing and turning -- undercuts your body's ability to shed fat, even if you're dieting! Indulging in some one-on-one pleasure before you say goodnight also releases oxytocin, the cuddle hormone that helps regulate slumber, too. Even a snuggly hug can nudge levels of this helpful hormone upward. That's good news for weight loss, because getting enough sleep can sharply increase the amount of fat you lose while dieting, according to one government study. Find out why sleep helps you lose belly fat and keep lean muscle.
4. Sex can keep your diet on track. How? By improving your body image. Getting a self-esteem boost is one often-overlooked reason people have sex. What better proof of how appealing you are than an appreciative lover and a mutually satisfying romp!
And the rewards keep coming. Not only does sex improve your body image, but a better body image improves your sex life, too. Women who like themselves physically dive into more and better sex, regardless of the number on the bathroom scale. And when you do that, your appreciation for your body may spill over into healthier eating habits and a stronger commitment to exercise. Just remember, you don't need J-Lo's curves or Matthew McConaughey's sixpack abs to feel good about the way you look, with clothes or without. Focus on how good you and your partner can make each other feel and you might be surprised at how much healthier you start looking.
5. Good sex can make you slimmer and keep you that way. Already lost a few pounds? You may have noticed an uptick in sexual pleasure. Even modest weight loss can boost a guy's testosterone levels and reverse some erectile dysfunction. For women, trimming excess weight can enhance arousal, orgasms, and overall satisfaction. How can this keep you slim and trim? You have probably already heard (or know from experience) that maintaining a new, healthier weight is tougher than losing the pounds in the first place. If you keep this big but rarely noted bedroom benefit in mind the next time you're tempted to skip your morning walk or order the sausage and waffles with extra syrup, you'll not only keep on fitting into those skinny jeans, you'll also have even more fun when you take them off.