By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Have you ever wondered why you have trouble losing weight? Or maybe you struggle to maintain weight loss after you worked so hard to lose it? If this explains your weight loss battle, I completely understand your frustration.
Of course, eating healthy foods, lean proteins and reducing your sugar intake is the key to a weight loss promoting diet. However, there is the obvious other components which are exercise and physical activity.
You need more daily activity to lose weight
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that individuals engage in a minimum of 150 minutes per week of activity. Then, individuals who achieve 300 minutes per week or more may reap the most health and weight loss benefits.
While the ACSM has provided sound recommendations, 300 minutes per week only equates to less than 45 minutes per day. If most your daily activity comes from your 45-minute activity or exercise session, you will struggle to lose weight. If you sit at a desk throughout your workday, you need to find ways to accumulate more activity outside of your exercise session.
Free-living energy expenditure
Research has identified an additional component to monitor when trying to lose weight or maintain previous weight loss. The additional factor is called free-living energy expenditure.
Free-living energy expenditure refers to the number of calories you burn throughout the day in addition to your exercise training program. You can think of this as simply engaging in movement or activity throughout the day.
More movement will increase free-living energy expenditure. The more activities you do, the more calories you burn. Research has also found that failure to engage in free-living activity outside of your workout will most likely result in weight gain.
Get creative with your activity
To enhance your free-living energy expenditure, the goal is to get creative with your activity and find a routine that works for you to consistently move and be active.
A mental goal is to convince yourself to get up and move. It starts in your head and in your mind! Ideally, you should develop a mindset to move at all cost. For example, at your house, there are always rooms to clean and laundry to fold or perhaps you can walk outside to accumulate more activity. Sitting is the enemy of free-living energy expenditure.
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Drenowatz, C., et al. “The association of change in physical activity and body weight in the regulation of total energy expenditure.” European journal of clinical nutrition 71.3 (2017): 377.
Hunter, Gary R., et al. “Exercise training and energy expenditure following weight loss.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 47.9 (2015): 1950.