“They don’t wind down. They ramp up almost like they’re on meth,”
my cousin in law said to me. It was about 10pm on a July summer night in the Pacific Northwest, and it started looking like something resembling dusk outside. His children—my second cousins—were running around outside alternating between the tent they set up in the yard and the house itself.
The house itself has a basement and a main floor, with stairs inside and stairs outside leading from the basement to the yard. While I was there every day of the summer this year, the children would spend about 12 hours a day doing the following:
- Playing with legos or toy cars
- The older one read sometimes
- The younger one would fiddle with his tablet trying to play games (sometimes, when he couldn’t figure out how to play certain things, he would say and say “dammit” to let his frustration out)
- Running up and down the stairs repeatedly, multiple times a day, sometimes at full speed
- Beating each other up
- Riding bicycles
- Going to karate class
- Jumping up and down with no rhyme or reason
In addition to all of that nonstop activity, the kids would eat. Between a seven and four year old, those kids could pound away some food, too, and it wasn’t out of the norm for them to share a pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (800-900 calories per whole pizza) in addition to eating nutrient dense foods for lunch—things like fruits, vegetables, and milk. For breakfast, they would usually have a package of oatmeal with “dinosaur eggs” in them. The coolest part about the oatmeal was making it for them and watching the eggs crack.
Many will likely blame the fact that these kids aren’t fat on the fact that they have “fast metabolisms.” If you plug in some stats in a generic calorie calculator on the internet, a seven year old boy’s TDEE can range from 1400-1700 calories, and recall that number is that which will keep you at the same weight, also known as your maintenance calories. As time goes on, children grow, and so do their appetites and BMRs.
After the growing stops, so too does a lot of physical activity. People go to grad school, get office jobs, loaf around unemployed or what have you. If the amount of food they eat stays constant, their body weight goes up. All because of two things:
- Non Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA) and
- Non Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis (NEAT)
I’ve mentioned it before, but the main difference between the two is that NEAT is unconscious movement and NEPA is intentional. So, it’s the difference between fidgeting and moving furniture around your house. For simplification, I’ll just say “NEAT” and go on my merry way. Interestingly enough, NEAT can account for 10% of someone’s weight loss. To put that in perspective, I had a client who once weighed 500lbs. He hated working out and by his own admission, he would workout because he knew he had to. Or rather, he felt he had to. In his spare time, he played video games and didn’t do much and he would come to me twice a week for training. He lost about 260lbs over the course of a few years, despite living a sedentary life. I say this not to brag, but I lead him to the water and he drank, as the saying goes. More importantly though, I want you to think about something. If NEAT accounted for 10% of his weight loss, that comes to 26lbs of weight lost by way of him moving unconsciously. Now, in the context of 260lbs, 26 of them might not seem like a lot, but if you lost it without thinking about it, that’s kind of cool.JOIN NOW to continue reading...
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