Base Activity Level
One of the key elements of classical weight loss thinking is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the amount of energy you expend at rest. While not engaged in physical activity, the body still needs calories to carry out metabolic processes. Thus, the BMR has become a standard part of the equation on the balance sheet where calories out must be greater than calories in for net fat loss.
However, over the years we've learned that having a net calorie expenditure may not be the most effective fat loss protocol to begin with. Similarly, excessive calorie intake should not be viewed as the cause of fat gain. This reasoning would be similar to saying that a theatre is full because lots of people went in. There would be no explanation why the theatre would draw so many people in.
I encourage you to move beyond the simple calculation of
Calorie Intake - BMR - Calories Burned in Physical Activity = Net Calorie Consumption
The BMR is a standardization that doesn't reflect the vast differences from individual to individual, while calories are not all treated equal.
The discussion should be focused on macronutrients and our base activity levels throughout the day. I've previously discussed macronutrients in another article, so let's turn to base activity level (BAL).
In modern day society, our lives have become so sendentary that 30 minutes of exercise is thought to be sufficient. This means that of our 16 wakeful hours, the living, breathing human being only needs to move for 3% of the time. 5 minute buns and ab programs have conveniently allowed us to forego a long run or multi-hour hike. As an animal designed to move, you should reconsider what physicial activity levels are deemed as appropriate.
We need to start separating physical activity and daily movement from what we call working out. Working out could involve trying to improve components of your fitness, from your cardiovascular system, your strength, your flexibility and so on. This needs to be coupled with movement throughout the day. Just because you performed an weight circuit earlier for 20 minutes does not excuse you from allowing your body to move.
Having a higher base activity level will improve your overall aerobic energy system, allowing you to recover fast between sets and workouts and boost your energy levels. The extra movement is what allowed us in the past to maintain our figures. Today, landing an office job ultimately leads to a few pounds of weight gain.
This is a call to get moving, to start fidgeting, to stretch anywhere and everywhere, to play more. Please note: increasing your base activity level is not about working out more. Base activity level refers to physicial activities that are performed at a low level of intensity. Also, increasing your base activity level is not a substitute to workouts. It is simply a way of living as you were supposed to.