Putting yourself in a state of high energy flux is something we recommend to all of our clients for its health benefits, and the benefits it can have on your physique.
As a team we recently attended the Physique Education Collective.
We had the experience of hearing several speakers in the fitness industry present on various topics. Credit goes out to Brandon DeCruz (one of our mentors) for the inspiration for this blog post. Brandon spoke on the topic of Energy Flux (G-Flux).
Coaching for over a decade, there was a time that I never mentioned going on walks to our clients. I didn’t think it was a bad thing to do or a waste of time, I just didn’t consider it a large part of getting in shape (Going for walks was something my grandparents did, or mall walkers, not something for my clients who wanted to build muscle and burn fat.)
Now, it’s something I recommend to everyone for all of it’s health benefits, and the benefits it can have on your physique.
In fact, all of our online clients have step goals to hit in a day, that’s how much we value walking and movement in general.
I first heard of energy flux (or g-flux) from John Berardi, the founder of Precision Nutrition. This is his explanation of G-Flux:
“G-Flux, otherwise known as energy flux, is the complex and interdependent relationship between the energy that flows into and out of a physiological system. It’s the balance between the two. You can also think of it as the amount of calories you “turn over”
Basically, energy flux is the energy (calories) you take in, vs. the energy you expend.
You can have a high energy flux (meaning you burn a lot of calories and eat a lot of calories) or you can have a low energy flux (meaning you don’t burn a lot of calories or eat a lot of calories.)
You can maintain weight either way.
→ A sedentary person burning 1800 calories per day, but also eating that amount will maintain weight.
→ An active person burning 3000 calories per day and eating 3000 calories per day will also maintain weight, but at a much higher intake and activity level.
The effect G-flux has on our health has been studied a variety of ways.
In one study, researchers looked at a group of 98 Amish individuals. These are a group of people who don’t use technology in any way, so their energy expenditure is very high.
They do all labor, washing, cleaning, cooking, etc. by hand and without power. The men ate on average 3600 calories per day and took about 20,000 steps per day. The women ate on average 2000 calories and took 15,000 steps per day.
Both groups were very lean by any standard with the men being on average 9.4% bodyfat and the women being 25% bodyfat.
In the Amish community there is only a 9% obesity rate, whereas the obesity rate of America is 42.5%.
In another study, workers in a mill were studied to assess their activity level vs. their appetite.
The study found that sedentary workers had an appetite that far exceeded their energy expenditure, so they consumed more than they burned, gained bodyfat, and had decreased health.
From there, the appetite of laborers scaled up according to their expenditure: moderate activity workers had a moderate appetite that led to weight maintenance, highly active workers had a high appetite that led to weight maintenance.
From this we know there is a certain point of activity where it actually helps you control your appetite, but not getting in enough activity will actually cause you to want to eat more.
In one recent meta-analysis it was found that there is a 12% reduced risk of all cause mortality per additional 1,000 steps per day.
According to Greg Knuckols analysis of the research on strongerbyscience.com:
“Comparing the lowest step counts to the highest step counts reported in the studies included in this meta-analysis, walking 16,000 steps per day was associated with a 66% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to walking just 2,700 steps per day. Stated conversely, walking 2,700 steps per day was associated with a three-fold greater risk of all-cause mortality than walking 16,000 steps per day.”
This is a crazy difference and shows just how impactful walking can be for your health vs. being sedentary.
Another meta-analysis found that the addition of a walking group intervention showed an improvement in many health markers, including:
→ Systolic blood pressure (-3.72 mm Hg)
→ Siastolic blood pressure (-3.14 mm Hg)
→ Resting heart rate (-2.88 bpm)
→ Body fat (-1.31%)
→ Body mass index (-0.71 kg/m(2))
→ Total cholesterol (-0.11 mmol/L)
→ Mean increases in VO(2max) (of 2.66 mL/kg/min)
→ AND a reduction in depression
Exercise and daily movement is one very consistent variable seen in individuals who have lost weight and have kept it off long term (which we know from the diet registry statistics is one of the hardest parts about the weight loss journey.)
This is a ton of benefits from just some added daily walking and movement, which is within reach for almost everyone, and can be implemented with a bit of time management, thought, and prioritization.
Along with all of the above benefits to weight management, adding more walking and daily activity and living a high g-flux lifestyle has a lot of other benefits to health, longevity, and body composition.
In a low energy flux state, you will have to be a lot more restricted with your food intake. Because of this, it’s a lot harder to include any sort of social occasion centered around food like holidays or even the occasional meal out.
You also would need to place a huge emphasis on making sure you’re covering your micronutrient bases, and even then in a very low flux state, it’s going to very difficult to do so.
In a high energy flux state you have a lot more flexibility in food choices.
You can include more meals out and social occasions, and you also have more freedom for more calorie dense, micronutrient dense food (In a restricted state you will have a harder time including foods such as potatoes, olive oil, avocados, and other more dense vegetables and fruits.)
Being able to include the above foods along with the other less calorie dense produce foods like broccoli, greens, berries, etc. will cover more micronutrient bases.
If you’re able to ensure you’re covering your bases (micronutrient-wise,) you’re less likely to experience any insufficiencies in things like magnesium, zinc, b vitamins (and so on); which can have downstream effects on hormones like thyroid and sex hormones.
The more food you can eat while staying weight stable, and the more movement you do outside of lifting sessions, the better you will build muscle, recover between sets, and recover from training sessions.
More food coming in typically means more carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are used to fuel harder training, restore glycogen after training, and give an insulin response which not only assists in building muscle but also in blunting hunger.
More movement outside of training sessions in the form of formal cardio or more walking means you will have a healthier and more capable cardiovascular system.
If you are in better cardiovascular shape, you don’t need as much time between sets and can push harder within a set before getting gassed.
→ That means better performance, more weight/volume lifted, and more muscle built.
Also, when you are moving more throughout the day (especially before and after eating) you have better nutrient partitioning.
Nutrient partitioning is the process by which your body directs dietary energy (from protein, fats, and carbohydrates) to its ultimate destination.
Your body will either burn this energy or store it.
When nutrient partitioning is improved, that means you burn more glycogen, and store more in the muscle for use later rather than floating around as blood glucose or stored as bodyfat.
When you have more glycogen being stored in the muscle cells, you’re better able to use that glycogen later for a training session.
Several of these are already touching on health improvement, but there are more health benefits besides just being able to train harder and take in more nutrients.
More walking and movement means:
→ Lowered resting heart rate (a great marker for health)
→ Lowered blood glucose (and less glucose excursion after meals)
→ Better capillary density
So knowing how important daily activity is for your health, longevity, weight maintenance, and performance…
How do you actually get more steps per day and achieve a high G-flux?
We like to have our online clients hit a step goal per day.
This is a flexible way of getting in enough activity, because it doesn’t have to necessarily be time carved out for a walk or a cardio session, it can be accumulated through the day.
To sneak these in, Brandon gave a few ideas in his presentation:
→ Park in the back of the lot and further from destinations
→ Incorporate exercise snacks
→ Walk or bike to work
→ Walk to the convenience store
→ Using a standing desk
→ Take a walk during your lunch break
→ Post-meal walks (BG lowering benefits from this)
→ Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
→ Mow your lawn instead of paying someone to do it
→ Get a dog and walk it
→ Take a lap around the gym instead of sitting on your phone in between sets
Notice some of these aren’t even necessarily movement, but just standing instead of sitting. This makes a surprising difference in the amount of calories burned during a given time.
For an 8 hour work day, sitting in your chair will burn about 300 calories. In that same time, just standing to work will burn 1400 calories.
If you go from sitting at a desk to walking 1mph (very slow and doable while still working) you will burn an additional 120 calories per hour.
Practical applications from this information:
→ Using a standing desk during your work day
→ Walk and talk meetings
→ Taking walk breaks throughout your work day
→ Setting an alarm to move around for 5 minutes each hour you’re seated (Taking a 5 minute walk break every hour can increase energy expenditure by 16.5 calories an hour, 132 calories over an 8 hour work day and 660 if done for a full work week- Swartz et al., 2011)
Adding physical activity into your day doesn’t have to be daunting.
Start out by simply tracking your steps with a Fitbit, your phone, or a fitness tracker to see where you currently fall and add 1000-2000 steps per day.
You can add more walks in small increments into your day before or after meals, or join a rec league of a sport you enjoy.
You can use this time to walk with a friend, talk, and unwind.
Finding ways to add more movement into your day will result in having more energy, easier weight loss or weight maintenance, improved appetite control, and better health and longevity.
This is something we focus heavily on with our online clients. If you’d like some accountability on increasing your movement, nutrition guidance and coaching, and custom training plans fit to your needs, click here to schedule a call with one of our coaches.
Andrea Rogers is a certified nutrition coach, personal trainer, and coach for BairFit. Follow her on Instagram for more helpful training & nutrition content.