How many times have we heard someone say, “so and so seems to be able to eat anything they want and not put on weight, while I just have to look at food and I seem to put on weight, no matter what I eat, I put on weight”
There can be a few things going on-
NON-EXERCISE ACTIVITY THEROGENESIS
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sports like exercise, eating or sleeping. It ranges from energy expended from things like-fidgeting, walking, even sitting typing away at your desk.
This is something that can be hugely under rated when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. It something I took an interest in and found fascinating when I listened to a fantastic podcast where Lyle McDonald talked about NEAT (was either on Sigma Nutrition or Iraki Nutrition Podcast). I was in a seminar with James Krieger who done a brilliant presentation on the subject. A lot of what I write about in this article is from research conducted by Levine JA et. al.
NEAT varies substantially between people by up to 2000 kcal per day.
Because people of the same weight have markedly variable activity levels, it is not surprising that NEAT varies substantially between people by up to 2000 kcal per day. Evidence suggests that low NEAT may occur in obesity but in a very specific fashion. Obese individuals appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean counterparts.
Table 1- adapted from Levine et al 2000
If we look at chart 1.
From Sitting to Standing
Now imagine the difference from someone who has a job where they are sitting for 8 hours in a day to someone in a job where they are standing fidgeting about 8 hours in a day.
Calorie difference from sitting motionless to standing fidgeting
What about if someone walks an extra 30 mins per day? (this does not have to be 30 mins in one go, it can be spread out though the day).
What we see is that even small increases in activity over the course of the day can end up having a massive impact on overall energy balance because of how it can really add up.
These somewhat unplanned and unstructured low-level physical activities are associated with energy expenditure in excess of the resting metabolic rate (RMR), may have the potential to stimulate greater energy expenditure over time and help with adherence to a weight loss plan. (*RMR is the minimum number of calories needed to support basic functions, including breathing and circulation).
As I have written in other blogs- To reach your goals, it is not the occasional big gesture that will get you there, it’s what you repeatedly do that will get you results. -
It’s the daily habits or even what may be perceived as the “mundane boring or small” things that build up over time, that end up making the difference long term.
Taking steps to increase energy expenditure-.
Simple things like
Reduce sedentary behaviours-
(playing computer games/ playing on phone/watching TV etc).
Making other “small” changes like-
These all add up to big things….
The Levine et al 2000 study.
The Study Design:
Energy expenditure was measured in 24 subjects (17 women and 7 men; x̄ ± SD body weight: 76 ± 21 kg) while recumbent at rest, sitting motionless, standing motionless, partaking of self-selected fidgeting-like movements while seated and while standing, and walking on a treadmill at 1.6, 3.2, and 4.8 km/h (1, 2, and 3 mph).
Measurements were performed by using a high-precision, indirect calorimeter connected to the subject via a transparent, lightweight facemask that enabled almost unrestricted movement.
There was a significant, positive correlation between changes in energy expenditure and body weight for fidgeting-like activities while standing (r = 0.43, P = 0.02) but not while seated.
There is marked variance between subjects in the energy expenditure associated with self-selected fidgeting-like activities. The thermogenic potential of fidgeting-like and low-grade activities is sufficiently great to substantively contribute to energy balance.
Lean and obese subjects show substantial responses in energy expenditure to fidgeting-like and strolling-equivalent activities. The potential for weight loss may exist in increasing these activities,. Conversely, you might be born a fidgeter rather than become one.
Jamie Miller- Personal Trainer
UK Fitness Personal Training
Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Training