N.E.A.T. ideas to burn more calories

In my last article, I wrote about how sleep, hormones, and stress impact body composition. The main point being fitness and nutrition are relatively simple, but people are complicated. But body composition ultimately boils down to calories in vs calories out. Nobody is above the “rules’ when it comes to body composition. If we eat more than we burn off, we gain weight, plain and simple. It’s not the food’s fault.

Let’s move on and talk about the 4 factors that contribute to daily energy expenditure. I won’t take too much of your time:

Basal metabolic Rate(BMR), also known as resting metabolic rate are the same thing measured in different ways. BMR is the amount of calories our body needs for our essential organs to function. In other words, for our brain, heart, liver an kidneys to operate theres a certain amount of calories needed. And if we don’t consume that amount we’ll rely on stored body fat for energy, resulting in weight loss( not necessarily a good thing). Complex technology is need to calculate BMR, but there are a few ways to estimate it. Generally speaking, body weight multiplied by 10 for men , and body weight multiplied by 9 for women will give a good BMR estimate. BMR is the leading contributing factor to calorie expenditure, and can con tribute up to 60- 70% of all daily energy expenditure pending the individual.

Activity Factor, hey workout! Regular exercise has been shown to have huge health benefits over our lifetimes. Unfortunately, majority of research shows that the average adult is not getting the minimum amount. To add to that, its easy to over-estimate the amount of energy expenditure we are getting from our workouts. I’ve heard my share people tell me about how hard they’re working in the gym, but can’t reach their goals. Then they show me the workout (now things make sense, ha). Regular exercise is important on a daily basis, and should be considered a priority just like eating and sleeping. Now here’s the reality, our 1 hour workout contributes (at best) to about 15% of our daily energy expenditure. And for that 1 person that claims they spend 3 hours a day in the gym, that means your workout sucked( my recommendation, hire a personal trainer). moving on… Activity factor can contribute to 10–15% of overall energy expenditure.

Thermal Effect of Food, this is how much energy our bodies burn just to digest food. Also it’s why “healthy” foods our better for us, in thats those foods have nutrients that need to be abstracted. That in itself requires energy to be burned, compared to “ unhealthy” food, also known as empty calories. Of the 3 macronutrients ( proteins, carbs and fats), prioritizing protein is ideal for the average individual because of the amount energy(calories burned) needed to digest. Depending of various factors, the thermal effect of food can contribute to 10–15% of energy expenditure.

N.E.A.T. (Non exercise activity thermogenesis), the previous 3 are the basics. But here’s where we can change the game. A lot of people get a decent workout in, but spend the rest of the day sitting on the couch and don’t reach their goals. N.E.A.T. is the amount of calories we burn doing other activities:

  • Chores around the house

N.E.A.T, is all about the little things you can do to burn more. Find ways to get a little more N.E.A.T in your day. You’ll be happy you did.

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Carlos Anthony Castro

Personal Trainer/Nutritionist at EQUINOX on The Miracle Mile, Marathon Runner