When it comes to exercise, there are loads of fitness trackers which calculate calories burned, as well as machines at the gym which very much guesstimate your calorie burn and there tends to be a high margin for error.
When it comes to exercise, of course we want to burn some calories, but is this the main number we need to be looking at?
Obviously knowing how much food we’re eating is VERY important as if we’re consuming 2000 calories and only expending 1500, we have a surplus of calories and we’re likely to gain weight.
GET READY FOR THE ABBREVIATIONS
Exercise does play an important part in our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) - our output.
Basal Metabolic Rate/BMR (The number of calories your body burns at rest just to function without even moving)
Thermic Effect of Food/TEF (The number of calories burned in the process of digesting food you eat, plays a small role) A common estimate is around 10% of daily calories consumed, eating more protein will increase this number slightly.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis/NEAT (The number of calories burned in all activity apart from formal exercise e.g. fidgeting, standing up, walking up and down stairs)
NEAT is something that is for the most part overlooked.
The real title of this post should be
HOW MANY CALORIES AM I ACTUALLY BURNING WHEN I’M NOT EXERCISING?
Partaking in an exercise program 2, 3, 4 times a week for an hour, really plays a smaller part in the grand scheme of things, if we considered that we’re awake for 15-16 hours a day/105 hours a week.
This is not to say you can’t burn a decent amount of calories in the hour of exercising/resistance training you’re doing and I’m certainly not downplaying the importance of either of these especially when it comes to keeping the weight off.
But for the rest of the day, what exactly are you doing?
Do you drive to work?.....................................Could you walk?
Could you take the stairs instead of the elevator or lift?
If you’re an office worker, do you get up and walk around every hour or so? Do you get up to make your own coffee or do you let others make it and deliver it to your desk?
Could you become chief coffee maker?
Do you do the housework?
Do you need to drive to pick your kids up from school?
There are so many ways to actually increase the amount of calories you consume just from making yourself a little more active on a daily basis.
There’s a study by Dr James Levine which tested people of different jobs, from chair bound office workers, all the way up to agricultural workers, and found their NEAT varied in the region of 2000 calories.
So where do you sit on this scale?
If your Miss or Mr Chair where you work, how can you increase your NEAT?
Getting up and walking for 2 minutes every hour in an 8 hour work day can increase calorie expenditure by 60 calories a day. This might not sound like much, but over the course of a week you’re looking at 300 calories just by doing that little bit of walking..
Fitbits are fantastic! They have done wonders for getting people more engaged in tracking their steps, I bought one for my girlfriend for Christmas and she’s involved in her “workweek hustle” which brings some fun competition to step counting.
Whether it’s 10000 steps, set yourself a target and try and meet it every day. I think you’ll genuinely be amazed how much different this can make to your NEAT and overall weight loss.
There’s also the app called "Health" on the iPhone which can track your daily steps.
Have a look at a typical day for you.
Try to find ways to be more active.
It could be park your car a little further away from work just to walk an extra 5-10 minutes.
Could you take the bags out of the trolley in the supermarket and carry them to your car?
Could you go and make tea/coffee for everyone at work?
Could you track your steps and set daily, weekly targets?
Just incorporating small additions of NEAT to your day can over time make a huge difference to your overall weight loss and actually helping you keep this weight off.
Don’t just sweat about the number you burn during exercise!!!!