Keep the Fat OFF, Scientifically Proven Tips

When it comes to losing weight, the most common advice is, above all else, to work on your diet. And personally, I would agree. Weight loss is best achieved by changing our approach to food, not overeating and preferably selecting better, nutrient dense and heavily satiating foods. In more specific terms, the goal is to consume less than our energy needs, thus energy comes from our fat stores.

Energy needs are calculated through the measurement of calories. In the realm of fitness, we accumulate all our daily energy use into a formula known as total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE for short. In essence, weight loss requires consuming below our TDEE, also known as being in an energy deficit.

For example, if our TDEE is roughly 2,500 calories, consuming 2,000 calories puts us in a modest energy deficit. For those of you that have already lost weight, this information is probably nothing new. But the reason for this video is not so much how to lose weight, but rather, how do we keep it off?

After all, regaining weight is extremely common and sometimes we gain even more than when we started. Falling back to old eating habits is often the culprit. But outside of this, there is another factor we should understand that further explains the difficulty of maintaining weight loss. To do so, we first have to expand a bit on energy needs. Yes, weight loss is achieved by consuming less than our energy needs. However, energy needs are constantly changing. In terms of weight loss, our energy needs can naturally and predictively decrease the additional weight we lose since we’re losing mass that antecedently needed energy to preserve it.

To continue losing weight, you have to lower your food intake even further. Of course, this is not something sustainable. Continuously reducing food intake is a slippery slope towards starving yourself and ultimately falling back to your junk habits. So what exactly can we do?
Well, perhaps the focus is in the wrong area. Instead of focusing only on achieving an energy deficit, our attention is better placed on improving our energy needs. In other words, increasing our TDEE, total daily energy expenditure, or, as you might have heard, burning more calories, would be best practice. And we can do so through the factors that make up our TDEE. The first factor is our basal metabolic rate, or BMR. 

BMR is the amount of energy we need to simply survive on a daily basis. For the most part, we can’t do much to increase our BMR outside of changing our body composition. Having more muscle can increase BMR since muscle is more energy costly. However, the significance of its effect is up for debate within scientific research. So, any practical changes to our BMR is probably out of our reach.

Luckily, the other factors of TDEE is a bit easier to work with. The first controllable factor is thermic effect of food, or TEF. In simple terms, TEF is the energy it takes to break down and digest the food we eat. Thus, choosing the right foods can potentially increase energy needs. Typically, this means eating more protein since protein has an extremely high thermic effect of 20 to 30%. In other words, it takes 20 to 30% of the energy protein provides in order to process it.

Carbs comes in second, with a TEF of 5 to 10%. Fats clock in with the lowest TEF of 0 to 3%.  The next piece of TDEE to manage is non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. As the name suggest, it is the energy we use to perform non-exercise activity. This can range from significant calorie burning activities like a physically taxing job to trivial things you wouldn’t even consider like fidgeting your legs.

Unfortunately, long periods of energy deficits can subconsciously lower NEAT levels due to the lack of energy. You simply won’t feel the desire to move as much. First order of business is then to avoid too long of periods of heavy energy deficits. Next is to try to be more proactive with your activities.

Do your house chores, take longer walks with your dogs, and shop at your local grocery store instead of ordering everything online. NEAT levels alone can be the answer to keeping your weight off as long as you stay on top of it. So, get those errands done! And finally, the last factor of your TDEE, and probably not too much of a surprise:

EXERCISE! Between exercise and nutrition, nutrition hands down plays a much larger role in weight loss. However, as we’ve discussed, it can only get us so far. And this is where exercise absolutely needs to be factored in. In a recent study, researchers found that, for people that maintained their weight loss, the most common factor was a very clear increase in physical activity. In fact, they needed this added physical activity just to burn the same number or calories as obese subjects weighing similar to their initial weight. 

That means, for those that think you only need to diet, you probably want to think again. As for the type of exercise, cardio of any kind is probably best for burning the most calories. However, you probably want to do some strength training as well. Strength training means more muscle, which might mean more calories burned. But the bigger benefit is that having more muscle and less fat on your body means actually looking and feeling more healthy and fit. Studies have shown the best way to get more muscle and less fat is to do both strength training and cardio.

After that, above all else is to remain consistent. And there you have it. Let’s do less of eating less and more of doing more. Get more protein to raise your TEF, do more errands to raise your NEAT, and do more cardio and strength training to build the body composition you want. Enjoy your food, just be smart about it. And again, stay consistent.

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