November 21, 2018

A lot of people only focus on their workouts to burn the calories they consume throughout the day.

Is that the best way for you to determine whether you are on the right track?

I can pretty much state for a fact that most people are not burning the amount of calories they think they are during a workout!

So how else does the body burn calories (aka expend energy) during each day?

Read on to find out!

There are four ways our bodies expend energy throughout the day. Although a few of them play a bigger role than the others, each one plays a major role in helping us achieve the health we are after.

energy expenditure

Energy Expenditure=RMR + (PA + NEAT) + TEF

Wait.. What??

Let’s break it down!

RMR is the resting metabolic rate. It accounts for 65-70% of daily expenditure. Of course this varies from one person to another based on several factors including age, genetics, body weight, body fat percentage, etc.

Resting metabolic rate is the measure of the calories required for maintaining normal body functions such as respiration, blood circulation, and gastrointestinal processing (aka going to the bathroom:)

So pretty much the bodily processes that keep us alive!

The next biggest contributor is a combo of two separate things. 

Physical activity and non-exercise activity thermogenesis account for 20-30% of energy expenditure.

These two are the most variable among individuals.

Which is to say, if you truly believe your genetics dealt you a bad hand, this is what you can control!!

Physical activity is self explanatory. This is going to the gym and getting your workout on.

Of course, the intensity, frequency, and duration all play a role in how many calories you burn during your workouts; however, there may be a caveat here or there.

Intensity is important!

I’ve seen too many people over my years that just don’t put in the work. This isn’t meant to be easy!

Frequency of exercise is almost if not more important. If you do a higher intensity workout one time a week, your results won’t come. Period.

You have to work hard consistently!

As for the duration, a longer routine isn’t always the best choice.

Oftentimes, you can get more out of a 20-30 minute session than you can in 60 minutes. But it all goes back to the intensity:)

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is what you do when you aren’t sleeping or exercising.

Do you wash the dishes or use the dishwasher/make the kids do it?

Do you cook dinner or do you order in/go through the drive-thru?

Do you go to the grocery store or do you have them delivered to your door?

Do you try to find the closest parking spot at the store/movies/ballpark or do you park further away to get your steps in?

Do you sit at a desk for work or do you have a more physically strenuous job?

The list could go on and on!

None of these seem like a lot until you add them all together. But this is where a lot of people fall short as they haven’t thought about it in this manner.

So yes..All of your activities other than exercise can play a major role in your gainz..or losses.

TEF or the thermic effect of food, is the increase in energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate that can be measured for several hours following a meal.

In layman’s terms, it’s the energy cost of digestion, absorption, metabolism, and storage of food in the body.

Why yes..the act of eating food can burn calories. Weird, right??

The biggest takeaway from TEF is that protein is WAY harder for the body to digest than simple carbs (aka processed foods) so you will burn more calories by eating your protein and consuming less processed food.

So there you have it! Not only does your body burn calories through exercise, but we’ve learned the other ways to contribute to that burn.

Just remember, YOU CAN CONTROL the amount of activity you do AND which foods you decide to eat.

So have some awareness with your daily habits and make some good choices. This will lead to your long-term success.


Precision Nutrition

NSCA Essentials of Strength and Conditioning


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