When it comes to weight loss, the calorie in vs calorie out model is what determines whether you will lose weight.

There are several factors that influence how many calories you burn, or don’t burn. But ultimately, if you burn more than you eat most days, you’re going to lose weight.

So why then doesn’t everyone pick the exercise that burns the most calories for their training sessions?

Well, 1 – that’s hard. People don’t like to do what’s hard.

And 2 – that’s still not the right way to go about it.

You see, how many calories you burn per day is not determined solely by your exercise. In fact, your exercise can be the lowest area for calorie burn.


Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: Implications for the athlete

The graph above shows you where your calorie burn comes from, typically. This is your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).

Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is where you burn most of your energy. You can’t really manipulate that on a day-to-day basis.

What food you eat determines your TEF (Thermic Effect of Food). Sure, you can change this a little by eating foods higher in protein. But again, it’s not really something you need to concern yourself with.

Where you can have the most impact on the calories you burn per day is with your NEAT and your EAT.

NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the activity you do throughout the day that isn’t specifically exercise. Any time you’re walking, talking, fidgeting, shivering, going up and down stairs – that’s NEAT.

EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is your exercise for the day. Going to the gym, playing sport, going for a run – pretty much any structured exercise or activity.

Now you may think that you burn way more calories during your 60min HIIT session at the gym than you do just walking. But the total time of all the walking and other NEAT activities actually adds up to more than double the number of calories you burn from exercise.

Can you ruin your metabolism?

NEAT accounts for roughly 15% of your daily calorie burn while EAT is only 5%.It’s not actually that shocking when you think about it.

Sure, you work hard when you exercise. But it’s only for a fraction of the day. That just can’t compare to the hours upon hours of activity that you do outside of the gym.

If you aren’t active outside of the gym though, then that’s another story.

Even though you hit the gym hard many times per week, you may still struggle to achieve your weight loss goals if you’re not active elsewhere.

I’m not talking hiking and mountain bike riding every day. I just mean walking more often or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Adding in extra steps or activity to your day to help your overall calorie burn.

It’s no good smashing yourself in the gym if you sit in an office chair all day and then on the couch all night. In that case, your NEAT may only match your EAT. As we saw earlier, it should almost triple it.

So, when you’re trying to burn more calories and lose weight, don’t just think about adding an extra 30mins of cardio onto your training session. Add more activity into your day.

  • Get up earlier and go for a 20-30min walk before work.
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break or after dinner.
  • Take the stairs at every opportunity.
  • Park further away at work or the shops.
  • Aim for 10,000+ steps per day.

Sprinkle in more daily activity and watch as the fat drops off you without sweating your ass off in the gym even more.

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