The environment around us is not very conducive to reaching and sticking to your health and fitness goals, hence why so many people struggle with weight each year.
Did you know?
According to the Boston Medical Center an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year with the goal of losing weight. However, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
That is crazy to think about.
Back to the environment, everything that is being invented is allowing us to become more sedentary, and high-calorie tasty foods are easily accessible.
This makes the environment obesogenic.
Obesogenic can be defined as promoting excessive weight gain.
Now you have two options.
- Use this as an excuse and be a victim of the environment you live in
- Be aware of the issue and figure out how to best work with it, not against it.
If you are reading this, chances are you are choosing option two and I applaud you for that.
What exactly do you need to do to work with it?
Thats exactly what we are going to go over in this blog.
Years ago when we were evolving, our environment was much different.
There wasn’t an abundance of food around.
And in order to get food, you had to actually go out and get it.
Each day you woke up you didn’t know if you were or weren’t going to eat.
What this means is that our bodies evolved in a certain way.
And I can tell you that it wasn’t with the thought that you could eat 2,000 calories by not having to move more than 3 feet.
Things have clearly changed. But how our bodies work have not.
It’s just too easy to not expend energy and too easy to consume thousands of calories without blinking an eye.
Let’s dive into the three things you can do to work around this.
Three ways to bulletproof your metabolism
Lift weights and build muscle
When we were evolving, your body didn’t see the need to have much muscle beyond what you need for the activities you do daily.
Because it requires energy to maintain and build. Also, a larger body expends more energy.
In today’s world this makes a lot of sense, but during times when we didn’t have this abundance of food your body needed to find ways to be more efficient with its energy.
It figured that other than what you need for daily activities, adding more muscle didn’t make much sense and that energy could be used elsewhere, like your brain and other vital body functions.
There was no Instagram or bodybuilding shows to compete in, you were just focused on surviving.
A recent study by Pontzer et al. (2021) showed that your metabolism does not decrease from ages 20-60, unless you lose lean body mass, then you see a reduction in energy expenditure.
Second, another study by Rosenbaum et al., (2018) showed that lifting weights makes you less efficient with each movement you perform, compared to cardio.
In the study, the authors found that resistance training reduced skeletal muscle work efficiency at low power outputs. This happened in both of the subjects that lost weight and the ones that didn’t. This decrease in work efficiency means that the subjects were expending more energy to do the exact same amount of work.
Not only does lifting weights make you less efficient energy-wise with each movement you do, but lifting weights builds muscle which uses a good amount of energy to build and maintain.
Killing two birds with one stone.
If you need more information on how to build muscle read this blog HERE.
Consume enough protein
Protein is going to check a lot of boxes.
First, we need protein to help build and maintain lean body mass. They literally are the building blocks.
Weight training sends the signal to build muscle, and then protein helps complete this project.
The RDA recommendation is very low. For people who aren’t active or lift weights, this may be a decent recommendation, but for you who lifts, it is too low.
Second, it is very satiating.
This study by Johnstone et al., (2008) showed that a high protein diet regardless of the other macronutrients reduced hunger and caused a reduction in food intake.
Another study by Veldhorst et al., (2010) found a decrease in hunger and appetite on the high protein/moderate carbohydrate diet compared to the normal diet.
So it also can lower hunger levels. Which can get you to eat less.
Lastly, protein uses the most energy to absorb and digest out of all of the macronutrients.
This doesnt make a huge difference, but everything little thing can add up.
Aim for around 1g per pound of bodyweight. More isn’t going to build more muscle, but it may help with satiety. However, the more protein you have, the fewer carbohydrates and fat you can have.
Read HERE on how to set up your macros.
Read HERE on how to get more protein in your diet.
High level of physical activity
Lastly, we have a high level of physical activity.
The first thing it does is help you expend more energy throughout the day.
As I mentioned earlier it’s too easy to be sedentary, most modern technologies have helped us do less.
Listen HERE on the importance of maintaining a high energy flux.
Studies have also shown that keeping a high level of physical activity is important for long-term weight loss maintenance.
One of the most common factors between those who have maintained their weight loss is that they continue to have high physical activity levels. In a previous article I discuss how physical activity drops when losing weight.
In a study by Ostendorf et al., (2019) they showed that weight loss maintainers relied heavily on higher physical activity levels compared to those who gained it back to combat the inevitable increase in food intake following weight loss.
The other thing keeping a high level of physical activity does is it can help you regulate your appetite.
A study by Hopkins and Blundell (2016) showed that people who live a very sedentary lifestyle eat just as much as people who live a very active lifestyle. Not only is this a problem from an energy balance standpoint (less movement = less calories burned throughout the day than someone who moves more) but…
The authors propose that this could lead to some appetite dysregulation as well. Essentially with higher levels of physical activity, we improve our ability to detect whether we have under eaten or overeaten, compared to those who are sedentary.
So the less you move the more likely you are to give into bored eating, stress eating, and things like that. Not to mention you are burning fewer calories than someone who is staying active.
I’m sure you have had those days where you have not gotten much activity in and you just cannot seem to keep yourself full or cannot seem to get food off of your mind.
With online clients we have them aim for a step goal.
A good minimum amount to hit is around 5-6k. Once you get past 12-15k you probably will start to see diminishing returns. Meaning doing more becomes less practical and you won’t get much more out of it.
There you have it.
If you can focus on these three things, you will bulletproof your metabolism to fight against today’s obesogenic environment.
If you need more guidance and structure on how to set up your training and nutrition fill out the link for 1:1 online coaching HERE.
Pontzer, H., Yamada, Y., Sagayama, H., Ainslie, P. N., Andersen, L. F., Anderson, L. J., Arab, L., Baddou, I., Bedu-Addo, K., Blaak, E. E., Blanc, S., Bonomi, A. G., Bouten, C., Bovet, P., Buchowski, M. S., Butte, N. F., Camps, S. G., Close, G. L., Cooper, J. A., Cooper, R., … IAEA DLW Database Consortium (2021). Daily energy expenditure through the human life course. Science (New York, N.Y.), 373(6556), 808–812. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abe5017
Rosenbaum, M., Heaner, M., Goldsmith, R. L., Christian Schulze, P., Shukla, A., Shen, W., Shane, E. J., Naor, E., Leibel, R. L., & Aronne, L. J. (2018). Resistance Training Reduces Skeletal Muscle Work Efficiency in Weight-Reduced and Non-Weight-Reduced Subjects. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 26(10), 1576–1583. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22274
Veldhorst, M. A., Westerterp, K. R., van Vught, A. J., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2010). Presence or absence of carbohydrates and the proportion of fat in a high-protein diet affect appetite suppression but not energy expenditure in normal-weight human subjects fed in energy balance. The British journal of nutrition, 104(9), 1395–1405. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114510002060
Johnstone, A. M., Horgan, G. W., Murison, S. D., Bremner, D. M., & Lobley, G. E. (2008). Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(1), 44–55. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.1.44
Ostendorf, D. M., Caldwell, A. E., Creasy, S. A., Pan, Z., Lyden, K., Bergouignan, A., MacLean, P. S., Wyatt, H. R., Hill, J. O., Melanson, E. L., & Catenacci, V. A. (2019). Physical Activity Energy Expenditure and Total Daily Energy Expenditure in Successful Weight Loss Maintainers. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 27(3), 496–504. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22373
Hopkins, M., & Blundell, J. E. (2016). Energy balance, body composition, sedentariness and appetite regulation: pathways to obesity. Clinical science (London, England : 1979), 130(18), 1615–1628. https://doi.org/10.1042/CS20160006