The Science of Losing Weight By Fidgeting
Ever seen people who can never sit still however hard they try? The restless ones of the world with their feet tapping away, and their fingers as drumsticks or constantly clicking their pens, much to the annoyance of the people around them. But as long as they have something to keep themselves occupied, they are good to go.
Now this constant movement may be, at times, quite a source of distraction to the people around them, but there is a huge upside to this state of constant movement. It is a superpower hiding in plain sight.
What if we were to tell you this superpower involved you LOSING WEIGHT simply by FIDGETING?
Surprised, right? But there are various studies linking spontaneous movement to weight loss. So how did that come about? Let’s figure it out!
The love triangle: Calories, weight, exercise.
The rule set in stone to lose weight is to ensure that the amount of calories you burn should be MORE than the calories you consume. For instance, if you consume 1000 calories a day, you will need to ensure that you spend more than 1000 calories per day to lose weight. The first thing that pops into your mind is that to burn more calories, is to start exercising or exercise a bit more than we do. But exercise isn’t the only thing out there that burns calories.
Cha-Ching! Let’s talk money!
Let’s look at it this way. You get Rs. 1000 as your salary. It’s not much, but let’s see what we can do with it.
Now before you even receive the Rs. 1000, a major chunk of it, in and around 70% of it is deducted for basic amenities and essentials you cannot survive without. Your rent, your savings, your investments, income tax etc all come under this banner. With Rs. 700 taken away, you are left with Rs. 300 in your till.
Of what remains, you spend about 15% or Rs. 150 on things that usually are unplanned and quite spontaneous. You grab a quick bite on your way to work, or something catches your eye and you quickly purchase it without giving it a second thought are a few “spontaneous” spends that bring you down to Rs. 150.
From the Rs. 150, you spend about 10% or Rs. 100 on things that form part and parcel of your daily life or your routine that are usually fixed and budgeted for. Spending on your travel to college or work, or your lunch expenditures come under this category.
Now you’re left with Rs. 50 that you need to give to your accountant as his/her fees, so they keep track of your money and help you get the most out of investments. And we’re left with nothing.
But why are we speaking about money and finances when we started off speaking about calories? Because it is quite similar.
Where do we burn calories?
Our bodies burn or spend calories for our basic survival by keeping the essential processes running. Keeping the heart beating, ensuring the respiratory system is working well are a few processes where the body burns nearly 70% of the calories taken in. This is the body’s Basal Metabolism Rate or BMR, the amount of calories the body needs to burn to stay alive.
Any kind of activity that doesn’t count as exercise but still requires burning of calories comes under the second category. Walking the dog, speaking to a co-worker, texting away on your phone are a few examples of spontaneous activities which use up about 15% of our daily calorie intake. This is termed as Non-Exercise-Activity-Thermogenesis or NEAT, the activities that aren’t necessarily an exercise or a workout but still burns the calories we consume through food.
Dedicated exercise or Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) comes under the third category which uses about 10% of the calories consumed. Hitting the gym, going on a walk or a jog or taking your bicycle out for a spin are a few instances under this banner where calories are burnt.
And the last bit is where the body needs energy to digest and get the best out of the food consumed, which rounds up at 5%. This basically means that the food we eat uses calories for digestion. This is called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). But it also depends on the type of food we consume. We cannot go on eating junk and expect to lose a few pounds.
The reason behind this is the amount of effort that goes into digesting different types of foods. Fats are pretty easy to digest and use a very low amount of calories for digestion. But proteins on the other hand are difficult to digest and need a higher amount of calories and energy to complete digestion. For instance, if you consume 100 calories through fats, after digestion you retain around 95-97 calories and if you consume 100 calories through proteins, you retain about 70 calories since 30 calories are used just to digest the protein.
The big reveal…
But from this somewhat lengthy explanation, did something catch your eye or get your attention? If you look closely, the percentage of calories burnt during spontaneous activities is SLIGHTLY HIGHER than the calories burnt during dedicated exercise. See where we’re going with this?
Spontaneous activities have a greater chance of getting you to lose weight than exercise. And guess what comes under spontaneous activity? FIDGETING! Just staying constantly active without even having much of an idea about being active essentially has the power to get you to lose weight.
A prime example of this is shivering. We agree that shivering is the body’s defence mechanism against a drop in the core body temperature. But think about you, you shiver, your muscles vibrate vigorously to generate heat and calories are burnt to make this movement possible. But at the end of the day…CALORIES ARE BURNT. This of course doesn’t mean that you go out into the blistering cold without a jacket or a sweater and shiver to lose some pounds. We have some easier, more accessible ways to fidget and lose weight.
How to get Fidgety 101!
Have you ever seen those bright yellow smiley faced stress relief balls? Get one of them and get going on the weight loss program.
Another way is to shift your weight while you’re standing or sitting. Rather than just staying put and as you were, try moving your weight from one leg to the other and back once more. Keep your hands busy too! Fold your hands and unfold them often to burn a few more extra calories while also managing to look hard at work.
Putting it altogether, your body is a machine that needs fuel in the form of calories. Most of the fuel or calories are burned just to keep staying alive. Whatever remains is used in your daily routine, your planned exercises and to make sure the nutrients are derived from foods you eat. And although exercising is essential for a leading healthy life, carrying out spontaneous activities still has much more of an effect.
So go ahead and lose those few extra kilograms of weight the easy fidgety way!
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis in Human Energy Homeostasis – Endotext – NCBI Bookshelf
Components of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). BMR = basal metabolic rate; NEAT = non-exercise activity thermogenesis; TEF = thermic effect of food
Role of Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis in Resistance to Fat Gain in Humans | Science
A NEAT Way to Control Weight? | Science