During lock down many of us found ourselves with more time to exercise, focus on our nutrition and tackle those projects that have been on the to do list for months, if not years. However as we take stock, and lockdown eases, many people have reported weight gain, despite getting in an extra 3-4 hours of exercise a week and focusing on improved eating habits, why is that?
Balancing your weight is commonly referred to as a balance between energy in and energy out. Energy in being food and drink, energy out is a little more complex, as explained by NASM (the national academy of sports medicine).
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the estimated calorie needs per day and the total number of calories a person needs each day varies depending on a number of factors, including the person’s sex, age, height, weight, and level of physical activity, thermic effect of feeding (TEF), resting metabolic rate (RMR), and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). (Poehlman, 1989)
The basic energy need of an average human being (TDEE) is approximately 2000 calories per day, depending on age, sex, and physical activity, as well as other factors (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). The term calorie can be related to the amount of energy a food can provide to the body when broken down (Szalay, 2015)
So looking a little more closely at NEAT, this is what we do when we are not exercising, eating, sleeping, making up our resting metabolic rate, which does account for a large proportion of the day, between 60 – 75% for a sedentary individual (Poehlman, 1989). So without commuting to the office, walking to appointments, to shops etc, for many extended hours sitting at the desk, the resting metabolic rate (RMR) slowed for many of us. Taking our energy in greater than our energy out = weight gain.
So simple ways to increase the resting metabolic rate we have heard before, take the stairs wherever possible, if you are working from home place the coffee far enough away so you have to stand to retrieve it, use your ironing board as a standing desk, fidget, start the day with a walk or cycle, ensure you get 8 hours of quality sleep, set an alarm to ensure you move every hour. When you exercise ensure you include weight training, the more muscle mass the faster the RMR, cardio isn’t always your friend.
For any questions concerning this article please do contact me, I’m a personal trainer who specialises in exercise programs designed to build the RMR, among many other important goals. I am also a nutrition coach and can help you calculate your calorie intake and macronutrient split. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
References: NASM Nutrition Coaching Course 2019
Szalay, J. (2015, Nov.). What Are Calories? Retrieved from Live Science https://www.livescience.com/52802-what-is-a-calorie.html
Poehlman, E. T. (1989, Oct.). A review: exercise and its influence on resting energy metabolism in man. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 21(5), 515–525.