So as you’ll understand from our blogs up to this point, losing fat comes down to energy balance – the number of calories we eat vs the number of calories we burn.
If you have these numbers consistently the right way around then you should see the changes you’re hoping for translate to the scales soon enough.
Understanding ‘what goes in’ (I.e. your calories from food) is relatively straight forward. Food companies are all now required by law to clearly display calories, ingredients, ratios and make-up on their food labels.
To work out ‘what goes in’ we simply need to track the foods you eat and the quantities. The easiest way to keep on top of this is with a calorie tracking app – such as myfitnesspal.
But what about what goes out? Is this just as simple an equation? Unfortunately not, but hopefully this article will help shed some light!
1. Basal metabolic rate
Your basal metabolic rate accounts for the vast majority of the calories we burn on a daily basis. Around 60% in fact.
This is the energy requirement for your body if you lay motionless in bed all day and allows for basic bodily functions such as blinking, breathing and regulating temperature.
The good news here is that adding lean muscle tissue and reducing your fat mass will increase your basal metabolic rate, as muscle burns significantly more calories than fat.
This is why we prioritise multi-joint weight training within our sessions and favour routines designed to build muscle ahead of simply burning calories.
2. Thermic effects of food
This refers to the amount of calories required to metabolise foods and accounts for around 10-15% of your daily calorie burn. You may still hear some people spout off ideas that certain foods actually increase metabolism and/or burn more calories than they contain.
While foods such as proteins and low GI carbs may burn slightly more calories in metabolism than other foods, the low percentage that this makes up for renders this strategy largely ineffective. Certainly less effective than other strategies mentioned.
3. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
After your basal metabolic rate, this is the next most significant slice of the pie. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT) refers to the calories required to do everyday activities.
Unless you’re a professional sportsperson, training for large chunks of the day, much of your time will be spent at home, at work or doing everyday (non ‘intentional’) exercises such as walking, moving, cooking, cleaning, shopping.
This area of calorie expenditure is worryingly on the decline in the vast majority of the people we see, with as little as 15% total expenditure coming from NEAT.
Ideally, we would be looking for anything from 20-50% of total calories coming from NEAT, which is what we refer to when we say MOVE MORE, eat less for better health.
Walk instead of taking the bus. Hand wash your car. Go for long walks. Play with your children. Do what you can away from the studio – this will increase your calorie expenditure and improve your fat loss results.
Read more on the subject of NEAT, here >> MOVEMENT: The most underrated activity for fat loss.
4. Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
Last – and by no means least – is Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is our personal favourite for a number of reasons, as it’s what we’re directly responsible for as your Personal Trainers.
Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (or, EAT) refers to the calories we burn from performing intentional exercise. In other words, it’s the energy you burn from your MYPT workouts!
Obviously this number will vary, depending on the number of sessions, length of workout and intensity you perform at. But generally speaking, this number will account for between 20-30% total caloric expenditure in active individuals exercising productively.
So there you have it, 4 areas all making up significant portions of your caloric expenditure.
Strategies for increasing calorie expenditure:
Improve your metabolism through progressive weight training and/or high intensity interval training.
Let the thermic effect of food take care of itself. We’d only be playing about with small percentages here really.
Make the decision to move more in your everyday life. Be active. Get outside and walk.
Train 3-4 times per week following a progressive exercise programme. Together with NEAT, EAT is a component which we can actively change quite dramatically, simply by consciously making the decision to move.