Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Passively losing weight: two methods

In my news feeds (Facebook and Google Reader) come two stories that point out some ways that you could passively lose some weight (i.e., lose weight without exercising). Now, whether this is good for you is a different question, but let me list them and then discuss them briefly:
  • Make better decisions when eating out.
  • Keep the temperature at 60F.
The first comes from MedicalXpress. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, the authors put 35 healthy adult, premenopausal women who regularly ate out on a 6-week program "that helps develop the skills needed to reduce caloric and fat intake when eating out" with the intention of weight maintenance, and not necessarily weight loss. The results of the study found that people who were part of the program ended up eating about 300 fewer calories each day overall with a reduction of about 125 calories from restaurants (remember, these were women who regularly ate out). However, a reduction of 300 calories between home, work, and restaurants -- due solely to a nutrition program is pretty good for passive calorie reduction.

The second comes from fitbie.MSN. It estimates that roughly 100 - 200 calories per day can be burned by keeping the temperature in one's home at about 60F. This is because the body will convert fat into "brown fat" (which it uses for heat generation) and not as "white fat" (which it uses for energy storage). (Fitbie in fact has 14 other "lazy tips" to lose weight, but the temperature one was what showed up on my FB newsfeed.)

So what's so important with diminishing 225-500 calories each day? I mean, one venti Caramel Brulee Frappuccino with whole milk from Starbucks is 520 calories (even making it a tall with skim milk and no whipped cream still makes it 210 calories), which busts through the high end (and almost kills the low end) of the passive weight loss figure. Of course, that's not the point of such a tally. The main thing is to recognize that calorie intake is one of the most important indicators of (most people's) weight change (the other is metabolism), and burning up to an extra 500 calories per day really can add up over weeks and months. For example, for the average 35-year-old female (5'4", 164 lbs) 500 calories means not eating a day's worth of calories every 3.4 days, and for the average 35-year-old male (5'9", 191lbs) is equivalent to not eating a day's worth of calories every 3.9 days (based on maintenance intake, as calculated here). A loss of 500 calories each day means that both the average female and average male would be in the "fast weight loss" zone, which is equivalent to up to 1-2 pounds per week, and that's significant.

So there you have it: through a combination of staying a bit chilly (and 60F ain't that bad, really) and making better food choices, a person can (through calorie burning and missed intake) diminish their daily calorie count by up to 500 calories each day, which could - could being the operative word here - result in significant weight loss results... all without doing any additional exercise.

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