Search
  • Ciaran O’Connell

How do we burn calories?



A common misconception is that we must be exercising as much as possible to burn as many calories as possible.

I’ll break down the acronyms so you can better understand this image.

BMR - Basal Metabolic Rate. This is us pretty much doing nothing… It’s the body burning calories in order to function.

NEAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the activity we do day to day such as housework, walking upstairs, or cycling to work. We’re not actively exercising, yet are moving our body, in turn burning calories. This section is the easiest to increase (think of the 10,000 steps a day rule), and most effective at bringing results.


TEF - Thermic Effect of Food. This is the body’s reaction to using and storing the food that we eat above our BMR. Some foods have higher thermic effects (protein has a higher TEF than fat as it is harder to process). This section is increased based on our diet.

EAT - Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the amount of energy expended by our muscles during planned exercise. But as you can see, this is only a small percentage.

If you’re looking to increase your calories burnt, here’s some tips:

  • Have a high protein diet to increase TEF.

  • Increase the amount of NEAT you do. Opt for the stairs over the escalator. Simple things like this will have the biggest effect on your calories burnt. Being active is where possible is essential in today’s world of sitting at desks.

  • Try incorporate an exercise regime to your routine.


Remember, planned exercise is only a small portion of how we burn calories. If you’re doing 30 mins in the gym but then opting for the laziest ways to do things outside of the gym, you won’t see the best results.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All