ACSM Exercise Physiologist, ACE Health Coach
When it comes to weight loss, you may have heard the phrase “calories in, calories out”. I find most people are pretty familiar with how we get calories in – through the foods that we eat. But what about calories out? Do you know all the ways to expend calories? When you hear someone talk about calorie burn your first thought might be exercise. But interestingly enough, there are actually 4 different pathways that our body burns calories and exercise is only a small part of that! Let’s breakdown each of those:
1️⃣ NEAT or “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” accounts for 20% of your total daily calorie burn. This is not often discussed but it’s extremely important! Think of NEAT as your daily physical activity. How much are you moving around? Things that fall into this category are standing, casual walking, cleaning, cooking & even fidgeting! The more general movement you have in your day the better!
2️⃣ Did you know that eating helps you to burn calories?!? In fact, up to 10% of daily calorie burn comes from the process your body goes through to chew and breakdown food for digestion. It then also takes energy to store those important nutrients in the body. Not all foods invoke the same thermic effect of food (TEF) however. High protein foods have the greatest effect on stimulating TEF. This is one of the reasons why macro counting is so effective when it comes to weight loss.
3️⃣ The largest contributed to your daily calorie burn comes from your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) at 60% of daily calories. Your BMR is the amount of calories that are burned when you are at rest. If you did nothing all day long, your body would still burn this amount of calories in order to keep your heart pumping blood, your lungs filling with oxygen & your brain functioning. What’s the greatest way that you can increase your basal metabolic rate? Through improving your lean body mass. Each pound of muscle in the body burns about 7-10 calories per day as opposed to fat that burns only 2-3 calories. This is one of the many reasons why regular strength training can really help you in the long term if you are looking for ways to burn more calories.
4️⃣ Lastly, exercise of course is on the list and accounts for about 10% of daily calorie burn. How many calories you burn and how much this percentage affects your total day is a bit more individualized and can depend on what you do for your workout. Generally speaking, higher intensity cardio activities will burn the most amount of calories at that given time. This doesn’t mean you should cut out strength training however (remember what we just discussed with lean muscle tissue and basal metabolism).
So what does this all mean if you have a weight loss goal? A few take-aways would be focus on increasing your general daily activity. Try to get up on your feet and move more to increase NEAT. You can also consider making some adjustments to your nutrition by increasing your lean protein intake. Lastly, incorporate a regular fitness routine that incorporates both cardio and strength training.
If you are still needing help with balancing your calories or fat loss, I encourage to take a look at my 4-week Nutrition Weight Loss program. You will learn in depth about how to adjust your calories, macronutrients and food choices to put you on the path for successful, long-term weight loss without depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy. Check out this link to learn more:
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July 28, 2022 @ 4:25 pm
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