And how it’s the key to help you lose weight
How many times have you or someone you know, when discussing diet, weight loss, and exercise, groaned and complained about a slow metabolism? The phrase “I can just look at food and gain weight!” is something I’ve heard many times. I think I’ve said this a few times, too. Yes, many people do have endocrine problems that make weight loss harder. But, the vast majority of people who complain about their slow metabolisms don’t have a metabolism problem at all. They have a movement problem. A lack of movement, that is.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), plus the thermic effect of the foods you eat, added to something often referred to as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) or Non-Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA) makes up your energy requirements for each day. NEAT or NEPA is a huge part of that equation and I’ll explain how.
BMR + thermic effect of food + NEAT/NEPA = daily energy requirement
BMR, or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), is the energy requirement of your body either without any activity or while lying motionless. BMR/RMR accounts for about 60% of your total daily energy requirements. The thermic effect of food (the amount of calories needed to digest food) accounts for about 10-15% of your energy requirements. The rest of your energy requirements are dependent on how active you are in both intentional exercise and NEAT/NEPA activities (normal life activities like cleaning, shopping, walking, etc.).
And if you’re working out like a fiend and are still not where you want to be physically or in terms of body fat percentage, then consider the following. Multiple studies have shown that people who engage in intentional exercise either unconsciously ate more to compensate or overcompensated for the calories burned by moving less after the exercise and thus negating their efforts to a degree.
It’s easy to lose site of all this information when we compare ourselves to others who seem to effortlessly lose weight or stay lean. We often compare how much we are working out and how much we are eating, and then we blame our genetics for giving us this tortoise-like ability to lose fat. But, we don’t see what these “naturally skinny” people are doing on a regular basis.
My guess would be that your naturally-thin friend quite possibly has a very active job, as opposed to sitting at the computer or in meetings or answering the phone all day. “Naturally” thin people may also workout on top of their active jobs, adding to their daily calorie burn. Their metabolisms aren’t any better, they just move more. This daily surplus of movement and expended calories adds up over time, just as non-movement and surplus calories can.
The subtle but consistent differences in activity and lifestyle make it appear that we have two camps: those who stay thin effortlessly and those who do not. But really it’s a case of those who are active in an effortless or routine way and those who are not active. So, maybe you don’t have a slow metabolism at all. Maybe you just need to get out of your desk chair?