Monday, April 23, 2012

Burn, Baby Burn....Calories!

When one is trying to lose weight there are many different tactics that can be employed. Of the various methods that can be used, there is one common factor that will dictate whether you lose any weight or not.  That is caloric expenditure versus caloric intake.  In other words, to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in.  There is not way around it.  So with that in mind, I want to post about the various processes that burn calories and how the amount that you expend can be maximized.
  To start, there are three different processes that burn calories in your body and throughout the day.  The first process is basal metabolic rate, or BMR.  This is the amount of calories you would burn if you laid in bed all day and didn't move.  It takes energy to keep you alive and maintain all the systems in the body.  It is kind of like keeping you car in idle, you are not doing anything but you are still burning gas.  Your BMR makes up the largest percentage of calories burned throughout the day, and accounts for about 60-70% of caloric expenditure.  The best way to increase your BMR, thus increasing the amount of calories you burn at rest, is to increase your lean muscle tissue.  Muscle tissue takes more energy to maintain than fat tissue, so more muscle equals more calories expended at rest.  And, the best way to increase muscle is through progressive strength training programs.  So hit the weights a couple of times per week and build some muscle.
  Next, you burn calories by eating food.  That sounds contradictory, but let me explain.  Your digestive system goes to work when you eat food, and all the processes that go into digesting that food require fuel in the form of energy.  So you actually burn calories when you are digesting and absorbing foods.  This is called the thermic effect of food, or TEF.  It accounts for the smallest percentage of calories burned throughout the day at about 5-10%.  There is not too much you can do to manipulate this factor, but there are a few tips that can help.  Protein takes more energy to digest than other macronutrients, so by consuming more lean protein you can get a greater thermic effect.  You can also eat foods that require a lot of digestion, but few calories.  This usually comes in the form of green, leafy, and cruciferous vegetables.
  The final process that burns calories is the thermic effect of exercise, or TEE.  This is the process that you have the most control over from day to day, and can account for as much as 30% of total caloric expenditure.  It includes the calories you burn during structured exercise, as well as the calories you burn during physical activity such at walking around and doing chores.  You can maximize this effect by exercising everyday and being more physically active by walking more, taking stairs, doing manual work, etc.  Keep in mind that the calories you burn are in relation to the amount of time your heart rate is elevated.  So the longer, and higher, you keep your heart rate elevated the more calories you will burn.  Another way to maximize the thermic effect of exercise is by doing high intensity, strenuous exercise, as it increase your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.  If you are not familiar with EPOC, then read one of my previous posts on the subject...it is riveting.
  In conclusion, the amount of calories you expend throughout the day is a product of your BMR, TEF, and TEE.  They can all be manipulated, just some more easily than others.  So think about what you can do to maximize each area and start losing weight.  Until next post.  Thanks.

  ,Amerson Fitness