Get’n Geeky With Fat! – The Science of Metabolism and Burning Fat

In this day and age, fat loss programming is one of the most popular reasons people seek out personal trainers and or gym memberships. 20 or 30 years ago this just was not the case. Back then, if someone went to a trainer, it was to enhance their already active lifestyle. Now, we’re just trying to get individuals to move more. In a time crunched society where not even a minute can be wasted, it can be really hard to exercise, let alone stay in good shape. Statistically the average person spends more and more time watching TV then exercising. This is a trend that needs to stop…

There have been plenty of strategies for fat loss over the years. Trainers utilized endurance programs made for marathon runners, hoping that doing those workouts three times a week for thirty minutes was actually going to provide effective results. The level of leanness many of these marathon runners reached was not the goal of the program but just a very welcomed side effect. After this model did not work for fat loss, trainers went to bodybuilding programs. These are the programs consisted of 4-6 exercises, 3-4 sets for 10-15 repetitions. These programs may be good for building muscle mass but they also take a large level of adherence and dedication to really progress. So two or three half hour workouts a week may not cut it when focusing on a bodybuilding approach. After both of these methods crashed and burned, the fitness industry decided to waste everyones time and money by pumping out bogus supplement after bogus supplement.  With no regulation, companies were selling crappy products teasing customers that these will take the place of working out.

Supplement companies were catering to a lazy, non motivated people in our society.  Some of them may work, but they will only benefit you if your diet and training are spot on. The downside was that this method was the least effective and the laziest way of going about fat loss.

So how does metabolism come into play when trying to take off fat weight?

We’ve all heard someone say “he/she has a slow metabolism” or “I have a fast metabolism.” This usually refers to how hard it is for someone to lose weight or pertaining to how much food someone consumes.

But what does it really mean to have a fast or slow metabolism? To put it simply, your metabolic rate (metabolism) is the total energy expenditure of the body. Everything that our body does – our breathing, heart rate etc. – all require some amount of energy. This metabolic rate will differ greatly between people. Two people who have the same activity level, diet and weigh the same but may gain or lose weight at different rates due to differences in their metabolic rate. The process of combining food with oxygen (burning calories) will release energy needed for function. Every activity in our body requires some form of energy. The total sum of all of these actions is measured in calories (essentially a unit of heat). This total is known as our metabolism or metabolic rate (the rate at which your body consumes energy)

A large portion (60-70%) of our total metabolism is our resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is sometimes also referred to as resting energy expenditure. This is the amount of calories that are required to maintain your body and its basic functions while at complete rest. Picture yourself sleeping for 24 hours and not expelling any extra energy, you’re RMR will not change. Once you get up, your RMR will however increase as the day goes on, the more energy you use, the higher your RMR becomes. But at this point it is not called your RMR anymore. The amount of calories we burn in total at the end of the day is our TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).

So our metabolism is basically how many calories we burn in a typical day. This is affected by our thyroid, with muscle mass playing a role in how big of a number our RMR is. Also, the more muscle mass we have, not only will our RMR be higher than an average person, we will also burn more calories during and after a training session, (given you are working your body just as hard as the untrained individual). With more muscle, comes more adaptation, so you need to make your workouts intense and efficient to get that same effect!

An Additional metabolic demand comes from the thermic effect of food.  The thermic effect of food or TEF is the increment in energy expenditure above resting metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for storage and use.

This can actually account for 10-20% of your metabolism! Fat has a very low TEF, around only 3% of the consumed calories. The thermic effect of consuming protein is much higher at around 30%.  We can also speed this up with careful manipulation of meal frequency and the ratio of macronutrients that we are ingesting on a daily basis.  Another 20-30% of our calories come from activity. After that, it is our BMR that determines the rest of calories being burned.

If we execute a proper routine correctly, then we can create a calorie deficit. This is when you are burning more calories in a 24 hour period compared to how much you are actually eating.  Eat the enough protein to sustain your lean body mass (keeping your metabolism elevated while eliminating the excess non-nutrient dense foods, will give you the best chance for success.

Need a change in your routine…


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