Overestimation of Caloric Expenditure and underestimation of Calorie Intake.

Surely this sounds familiar to you: you seek to recover your weight through the well-known “Calorie Plan”, that is, you move to spend more and eat less. How do we get to this calculation? We estimate it. This is known, but what we do not know so much is that we tend to overestimate the caloric expenditure of our session of physical activity or training, which contaminates all our calculations and plans.

If you are overweight, you have two options: either you go to the mountain to a cabin and without food or electricity, and you do not return in 6 months, or you put yourself in specialized hands, young, modern in their studies and anxieties, eager for new readings and scriptures, that preach and convince by his example, which is both loaded with evidence and even greater experience.

– “Why do not I lose fat if I train frequently and take care of my food? If I do sport and just eat barely nothing”. If this question sounds familiar to you, you should read on.

I recently read a very sympathetic and playful intervention involving 16 moderately active youngsters (Willbond SM, 2010), with a good or very good cardiovascular level (VO2 peak = 45.4 ± 7.7 mL.kg-1.min-1) , that is, above the average of sedentary humans that invade us every day in great strides and that have become the common human. Look at the table to the left so you can see the different levels depending on the Vo2max.
Two groups, 8 in a treadmill to spend 200 kcal, and another 8 to 300 kcal, all measured by indirect calorimetry. It was a double-blind study, it means, no one knew what they were doing, how much or what for, and were randomly crossed in each group.

All are required to estimate caloric expenditure, and they say in summary that they spent between 825 and 1061 kcal of the group that spent 200 Kcal, and those who spent 300 kcal, between 896 and 952, both with a significant difference (P <0.05) and measured by indirect calorimetry. All of them are invited to recover those overrated calories (+825 to +1061) by eating at a free buffet and the ingested voluntarily between 556 ± 204 in the 200 kcal group and 607 ± 166 in the 300 Kcal group. That is, below what they had thought to spend, but clearly above what was actually spent.

Summary: overestimation of expenditure and underestimation of intake.

With these results, but with the analysis of the details, I address several situations that occur all too often these days that we are plagued by massive attempt to fight against being overweight through caloric interventions that seek to restore the caloric excess

1.The requested exercise had a 50% load Vo2max peak, this means a very gentle intensity, which more or less had them to situate walking or into a little more than walking on the treadmill. I estimate that the speed had to be between 5-6km/h, which puts them more or less in 5-6 METs of intensity, an intensity and caloric expenditure 5-6 times higher than their basal metabolism. If we imagine now that they weighed between 60 and 80 kilos, we can estimate that they spent between 300 kcal and 480 kcal per hour, with which I intuit that they were between 32 and 40 minutes on the treadmill (if it was with zero degrees of inclination, of course).

2. The BMI (body mass index) was relatively correct = 22.8 ± 3.3; Although it would be necessary to know if it refers to women or men because it is not clearly the same, we will estimate that they were not overweight people.

That is to say if 16 people are moderately active, which indicates that they have acquired a certain notion of effort, speed, caloric expenditure, is known as “perceiving exertion”, performing between 30-40 minutes of a very little intense activity, overestimated in that manner the caloric expenditure, what caliber will the overestimation acquire in the case of sedentary and overweight people, where kinesthesia or perception of effort is absent and the perceived effort is greater?

And what happens in this same case, when also asked to replace the calories spent with a post-workout intake? Will calories be equally underestimated? I hint that the opposite. Overweight or obese people have became so, through constant contact with processed foods with an increased caloric density, and with a decreased level of satiety, which has led them to a state of energy deregulation and of course, to an hormonal disbalance(own post), characterized by, among other things, constant appetite and a difficult satiety. I have no doubt that the result of the same intervention would have been the following: greater overestimation of the caloric expenditure, and overestimation of the intake, that is, that they had eaten more than what was spent and, of course, more than the estimated the intake.

And ..where does this situation locate us at?

Millions of obese and overweight people who desperately come to a totally useless and wrong plan: the “Caloric Plan”, based on starting to move, to spend more, and start eating less so that there is a caloric deficit. By obviating the hormonal laws known by all of you that, of course, lead the matter in question, and by making an implicit reduction of the causes and solutions of the overweight, i.e going for the simplistic Caloric Plan, we are handling, surely, the worse planned health intervention and, at the same time, the most used from the face of the Earth, raising to the desperation and disappointing status of millions of overweight people who put their hopes in the Caloric Plan, at the mercy of a series of energetic calculations, full of mistakes, especially in his unconscious awareness that adjusts the intake towards a small deficit in function of the perception of the effort  in the session of physical activity or training, what is tremendously difficult to calculate.

And for a bigger disaster,  let’s face it, professionals of this world, we fail very much in these approaches, being the first culprits not to know these situations, and not informing our friends and clients, that today we are dealing with the innumerable models of high-intensity interval training, which ensure triple or quadruple caloric expenditure in the 3rd or 4th part of the time required by the classical low-intensity aerobic exercise , so and so used to satiety in the plans of returning to the ideal weight by so many obese, advised by so many professionals “undocumented” and non-expertized. The so claimed caloric effects of the high-intensity training, are totally overestimated by the society, even more by the sedentary society. Obese humans doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will overestimate the real expenditure, into an exaggerated manner, because of their perception of effort, due to their inexperience and their low cardiovascular profile, feed this transgression of reality. If, furthermore, there is no modification of your food pattern, and you resort to a reduced pattern version just in quantity, not in quality,  based on artificial flours, sugars and sweeteners, processed dairy, processed and caloric beverages and other processed products, as you will understand, the result is to be very disappointing, bringing to the forefront the so-called “gym phenomenon”, characterized by an increase in weight after the onset of the caloric plan against overweight.

Lesson: if you are overweight, you have two options: or you go to the mountain to a cabin and without food or electricity, and you do not return in 6 months, or you put yourself in specialized hands, young, modern in their studies and anxieties, eager for new readings and writings, who preach and convince with their example at the same time loaded with evidence and even more experience. If you do not choose one of the two, I see you badly my friend, I see you taking so many pills when you are 50 years old or even earlier, that they are going to have an App to guide you to organise them, and you will see your grandchildren from the bed, taking care of you.

Fly. Reborn. You can. Inform yourself, generate awareness in yourself, acquire the habit. Then be constant and squeeze your will until it becomes automatic.