Michelle wants to lose body fat.
She asks her friends that go to the gym quite frequently and they say to "burn more calories than you take in". Ok, pretty simple, right?
She quickly agrees and buys a Fitbit, a new pair of running shoes, and a Nike workout shirt that says "Just Do It". Oh, she's gonna do it alright!
The next day, Michelle has a hard boiled egg for breakfast and parks in the furthest spot away from the entrance of her work building. She has a big salad for lunch with grilled chicken and took the stairs instead of the elevator. She even hits the gym after work and walks on the treadmill for 30 minutes!
After a long day of activity, Michelle looks at her FItbit and sees that she burned a whopping 1,200 calories! She has a bowl of multi-grain pasta and goes to bed.
When Michelle wakes up, she feels weak, very sore, and her knees hurt her. She struggles to walk to the bathroom to step on the scale only to see the same number as the day before. But how?!
She moved more, definitely ate less calories, and she even went on the treadmill after work! Ahh! So frustrating!
Today's Lesson: Lower Calories Means Lower Energy.
Hi all, Carl here and I'd love to tell you exactly what happened here. First and foremost, let me tell you a little bit more about our friend here "the calorie". The calorie has gotten a bad rap for many years now and it's time to scientifically and realistically, dissect this subject.
Lower calories literally mean lower energy. It's like putting gasoline in a car. You put a certain amount in, you burn the gasoline, and you get more when it's all gone. That's it.
With that being said, cutting back your "calories" is cutting back on energy that the body can use to expend. Why would anyone want to do that!? No wonder why Michelle felt so weak and sore the next day.
Michelle was so focused on reducing calories by restricting foods in her diet and burning more calories by moving more but little did she know that her body was at an extremely low caloric state, causing her to experience fatigue, increased muscle soreness, a slower recovery rate, and loss of muscle (a natural, fat burning tissue). She may have thought she had a successful day but I would put money that she wouldn't be able to continue that for 2 more days. She'll see a picture of a slice of pizza, rebel against cutting calories, binge eat, and start again when she feels like it.
This cycle of feeling success and failure, over and over, is not a sustainable way of eating. It's also not healthy, mentally. Focusing your diet strictly on calories leads to lack of energy, increased chances of binge eating, and ultimately leads to higher chance of storing body fat!
One of the first things to understand about food is that our body NEEDS calories because it constantly burns calories (mostly from fat) all of the time, most of it when you're at complete rest! It takes calories to sit down, to eat, to stand, lift a finger, and breathe. You're even burning calories right now reading this awesome post!
But what Michelle lacked was the knowledge of her METABOLISM.
The Science: Understanding Metabolism and Its Thermic Effects
There are three types of ways that your body automatically burns calories. When you completely understand how they work, you can turn your body into a never ending fat-burning furnace that ignites hot and fiery all day long!
#1 The Thermic Effects of Eating
Between 10 and 30 percent of the calories you burn everyday come from the simple act of digesting your food. Now that's pretty cool! Your body actually burns calories when you eat! Your body burns even MORE calories when it attempts to digest protein (about 25 calories burned for every 100 consumed). Just by incorporating more lean protein into your diet, like almond butter, Greek yogurt, grilled chicken, and ground turkey, you'll burn more total calories at the end of the day.
#2 Exercise and Movement
An added 10 to 15 percent of your total calories burned comes from simply moving your muscles, whether you were squatting a 25 pound kettle bell at the gym, catching the bus ride home, or stirring non-fat milk in your coffee. Moving the body costs calories or energy. Period.
In addition, when you gain 1 pound of lean muscle, it takes an extra 50 calories just to keep that muscle alive. So just by gaining 6 pounds of lean muscle, you can burn an extra 300 calories daily. How cool is that?!
#3 Your Basal Metabolism
Your basal, or resting, metabolism refers to the calories you burn when you're doing absolutely nothing. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories are burned up just by sitting listening to your music, watching TV, driving to and from work, etc. This is because your body is always changing and is constantly in motion: your heart beats, your lungs are breathing, your cells are dividing all the time, your muscles are growing (when you feed it protein), you even burn calories when you sleep.
You'll begin to understand that most of the calories that you burn on a daily basis don't come from working out or moving more, they come from the physiological functions that you thought would never come from, the thermic affect of eating and your resting metabolism.
Some individuals do have the ability to burn more fat calories at rest. How? They focus on foods that keep their body burning calories all of the time. When they add intense workouts into their weekly routine, it only amplifies the thermic effect of their metabolism. With this approach, they can develop a hotter, fiery, supercharged, fat-burning metabolism! These individuals also probably never look at the calories on a nutrition label, rather they choose foods that will cause a higher and longer thermic effect so that their body continues to keep burning calories throughout the day. Wow, smart!
Yes, there are some people that are born with a genetically "faster" metabolism but that doesn't mean that your metabolism was dealt the crappy hand at birth. There are so many ways to fire up your metabolism and reach its peak before it begins to naturally decline with age.
The Application: How to Supercharge Your Metabolism and Burn Fat, Day and Night
#1 Change the Way You Exercise.
Studies have shown that although more calories can be burned during a 30-minute, steady state running session, individuals that lifted weights for the same time have a longer thermic effect that lasts almost up to 48 hours post workout! This phenomenon is called the after burn - where your body continues to burn calories in the hours and days after a weight lifting workout. Message here: lift weights more often if you want your body to burn calories all day, everyday.
#2 Change the Way That You Eat.
Many diets fail in the American society because they never focus on the single most powerful macronutrient for building muscle and firing up your metabolism: PROTEIN!
Protein, in proportion with foods from other groups, works in two primary ways. First, incorporating more protein in your diet cranks up the thermic effect of digestion by as much as one-third. Second, protein is the main building block for fat-burning muscle.
Studies have shown that consuming protein from lean meat, like tenderloin, burns up to 2 percent more calories during a 24-hour period than protein obtained from soy. Message here: lean animal protein burns more calories just to digest it than a protein coming from a vegetable source.
#3 Change the Way You Think About the Word "Diet"
I honestly hate the word diet. Diet to me means having rules to follow and restricting a nutrient from my food choices. If you're so restricted on what you can eat, you'll eventually act out like a rebellious teen and break all the rules. Rather than focusing on restricting your body of certain foods, focus on how to properly fuel your body to burn calories all the time.
The Take Away: Stop Counting Calories, Just Understand How To Burn Them All The Time
For years, maybe all of your life, you've probably had one notion about what dieting needs to be. Restrict your foods, eat like a super-model, sweat on a treadmill, and you'll lose body fat. In reality, those were the reasons why you couldn't lose the weight in the first place. Its the reason why you gained back what you lost.
Our approach to nutrition at Empyrea Group Training is to reprogram circuitry. You'll stop thinking of every calorie and start thinking about how to best burn calories all of the time. Once you master that, your body will be well equipped with all the tools it needs to fire on all cylinders, strip away unwanted body fat, day and night, and show off those sexy abs that lie underneath!