Metabolism is often mentioned in fitness circles, but also much more widely. The frightening fact is that most people who talk about it have a very poor understanding of the subject.
In this article, our team of trainers will answer the question: “Are there ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ metabolism?” and some other questions.
How do we gain weight and how do we lose weight?
No, there is no special food that makes us fat. It’s not carbs, it’s not fat, it’s not sugar, it’s not bread. It doesn’t make us fat even if we eat after 6 p.m. What makes us fatter is the continuous calorie surplus (explanation below).
Also, there are no foods to lose weight. It’s neither pineapple juice, nor chia seeds, nor do I know what. What you lose weight from is a calorie deficit.
What is a calorie?
A calorie is nothing but a unit of energy. A calorie surplus is an excess of calories, ie. excess energy. Also, a calorie deficit is a lack of calories, ie. a lack of energy.
To make things easier to understand, we will look at our tissue as a storehouse of energy. Energy is stored in our adipose tissue and muscles.
Energy intake - Energy consumed
It is clear here how things work. If we ingest more energy than we expend – we have excess energy – that energy is stored in our stores and body mass grows.
If, on the other hand, we ingest less energy than we expend – we have a lack of energy. Our body has to reach out to its stores, and body weight decreases.
The energy input is the simplest part of the equation. We never digest food with one hundred percent efficiency. A small portion is immediately lost in the stool. What is much more interesting to us, but also much more complex is the part of the energy spent.
Basal metabolism (BMR) is energy that is spent on maintaining the basic bodily functions that keep us alive. An activity like breathing and organs working including kidneys, heart, liver, etc. It’s the energy we’d spend just enough to just lie motionless on the bed all day.
The thermal effect of food (TEF) is the energy expended on just digesting the food we ingest. With a classic diet, it is about 10 percent of the energy we take in.
Thermal effect of activity (TEA) – here we include everything we consider the planned physical activity. For example, we go for a run, do a workout in the gym, do basketball with friends, and so on.
NEAT is the most interesting part of this equation. A part that is barely thought of, and brings answers to many questions. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It denotes all physical activity that is not included in the formal exercise of the previous paragraph.
This includes things like walking while doing things in everyday life. Some examples: walking around the house or office, tidying up, talking, tapping and nodding when listening to music,… even my typing and your reading of this article.
Fast and slow metabolism
How many times have you heard that sentence: “I can’t lose weight, I have a slow metabolism? ”
Or “you are blessed with a fast metabolism.” We’ve heard it too many times.
When people say that, they mean the basal metabolism we just covered. It varies by only 5-8% for people with the same anthropometric characteristics (height, body weight, etc.). That’s roughly just 100 calories a day which is small in the overall scheme of things.
So what’s the catch? The answer is NEAT, there are huge differences. Let’s take two people who are similarly built.
Person A does office work and when he comes home he just watches TV.
Person B does physical work and is on his feet all day, cleaning the house and, say, sculpting in his spare time. You can guess who needs more energy.
By comparison, while the difference in basal metabolism is about 100 calories a day, the difference in NEAT can be an incredible 2000 calories daily.
There are no foods that make us fat and make us lose weight. Energy balance is the key to everything. We gain weight from a calorie surplus, we lose weight from a calorie deficit.
“Fast” and “slow” metabolism generally do not exist, the differences are negligibly small in the overall scheme of things. What you should focus on are ways to increase your activity throughout the day. Walk more, go up the stairs instead of the elevator, and find an active hobby. And of course, be aware of how much energy you are ingesting.