The answer is to get physically active
The single most effective activity we can engage in that will help us burn more calories is precisely that- activity. Whether we choose taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a short walk during our coffee break or doing an intense exercise in the gym, we expend energy. Scientists name this 2nd phase: physical activity expenditure. After we finish our training session, we continue burning more calories than while resting and that’s when we enter the 3rd phase known as the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
In terms of preventing weight gain, the last two phases which are related to exercise are the most important. The most optimal way to burn more calories during the day is to increase activity levels of any kind, whether, walking, running or working out in the gym.
A lot of people think that weight lifting or strength training fall into this category, however the evidence says otherwise. Weight lifting has only a minimal effect on your metabolism. You might ask why. Because during weight lifting the muscle do not burn a great number of calories, as shown by multiple studies. When it comes to expending a lot of calories, the brain is actually a lot more efficient than the biceps. Studies have shown that brain functioning makes up approximately 20% of the resting metabolic rate.
Next is the heart, which needs to function all the time and makes up 15 to 20%. The liver comes in 3rd place, which also needs to function while at rest, taking up the same calorie expenditure percentage as the heart. Next, the kidneys, lungs and other tissues. What remains is the muscle tissue, which contributes only 20 to 25 % of the total resting metabolism.
So, even though strength training is one of the healthiest habits you can acquire and will most certainly have a positive effect on many things like balance and agility, the fact is that it doesn’t have the ability to change the metabolism in a great way. The premise that a pound of muscle has the potential to burn hundreds of calories daily is a big myth.
Always be mindful of how much you’re eating
Research has also shown that in addition to becoming less physically active as we become older, we also tend to become less aware of how much food our body really needs. The natural mechanism for controlling our appetite seems to get inhibited.
A good way of becoming more mindful of how much food is enough is to start eating smaller meals and only eat more when still hungry, instead of eating a large meal, which will most certainly lead to overeating. By becoming more active and eating smaller meals comprised of healthy foods, we can eliminate weight gain as we age.