When we're talking about losing weight, there is a lot more to it than just eating less and exercising more. We've all heard of things like taking the stairs instead of an elevator, or parking far away from a building to get some more physical activity. The truth is, there are a bunch of other ways that calories get used throughout the day. Let's take a look at several other factors that also should be taken into account.
1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
When you're literally doing nothing, lying around, not moving, digesting, anything. Literally nothing. This is referred to as your basal metabolic rate. This, essentially, is the minimum energy requirement to continue living. An interesting point, the basal metabolic rate account for about 70% of our oxygen consumption every day.
2. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
While it may sound exactly the same as basal metabolic rate, the resting metabolic rate is a little different. This takes into account a little movement, a change of environment, digestion, etc. Basic functions throughout the day. While not exactly the same, the BMR and RMR are typically only about 10% different.
How do we improve this? While it may seem that muscle mass would account for the most calorie consumption, it is, in fact, not. The brain, heart, kidneys, and liver require a substantial amount more than muscle. That being said, more muscle mass is still going to require more calories to maintain. So, make sure resistance training is in your plan, and don't be afraid to put on a little muscle mass. Those of you who may be afraid of "looking like a bodybuilder" should not at all be worried. It takes a lot of time, energy, planning, and eating (and usually drugs) to look that way.
3. Thermic Effect of Feeding
This is an interesting one. The Thermic Effect of Feeding is quite simply the increase in metabolism as a result of eating. Thermic relates to heat, so it's describing the literal production of heat as a result of eating. This heat depends on what we are eating, with protein have the highest effect because it requires the most energy to breakdown and process. Interestingly, this can account for 10% of total daily energy expended. That's pretty substantial.
How do we improve this? We discussed that what you eat can have an impact on your metabolism, and it's certainly true. If we're going to maximize weight loss here, we want to eat foods that are going to increase the thermic effect of feeding the most. To do this, include generous amounts of protein in your diet. We like to follow the general guidelines of 1 palm of protein per meal for women, and 2 palms for men as a good starting point. Even when guiding clients on losing weight, we rarely find anyone who needs less protein in their diet.
4. Exercise Activity
It should come as no surprise that purposeful exercise (going for a run, workout at Achieve, etc.) can result in energy expenditure, and weight loss. There are many variable with regard to exercise, with some being more effective than others, or lasting longer than others. Regardless, this always should be weighted heavily. While it completely depends on the person and the activity completed, exercise can (and should) account for 10%-30% of total daily energy expenditure.
How do we improve this? When we're looking at weight loss, generally speaking, we'll benefit most from higher-intensity exercise for shorter durations as opposed to slow, steady exercise for a much longer duration. The most effective ways of losing weight involve resistance training circuits with shorter rest periods (30-45 seconds) and high-intensity interval training, where you'd alternate between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise over the course of 20-30 minutes, for example. The one caveat to this is that you're only going to benefit from exercise from which you can recover. So, be sure to have some days mixed in that are lower intensity to give you a chance to recover more before going at it hard again.
5. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
This is basically everything else. Fidgeting around at your desk, house work, walking the dog, or any number of things that you may do consciously or subconsciously throughout the day. This is completely dependent on the person, and can range substantially. Some people can burn up to 700 calories per day through this!
How do we improve this? This one is pretty easy to stack in your favor. Park your car far away, drink more fluids throughout the day to go to the bathroom more, walk your dog longer, play outside with your kids, or use the stairs instead of an elevator. These all increase calorie usage throughout the day, and should be some easy ways to burn more. A great way to monitor this is through your smartphone or a FitBit type of product. Hitting 10,000 steps is typically the daily standard, but by all means, don't stop there.
6. Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
When we add up all of the above sources of energy expenditure, we're left with the total daily energy expenditure.
How do we improve this? When all of the above are maximized, we'll see some pretty solid improvements in TDEE.
Putting It All Together
Taking all of the above avenues into account, see what you ca do throughout the day to get more physically active andburn more calories. Keep in mind, too, that physical activity and burning calories are just a part of the puzzle. What you eat plays a SUBSTANTIAL role in weight loss. Be sure to emphasize a quality diet in conjunction with what has been discussed to really see some progress.