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4 Ways to Burn Calories (TDEE)

We all know the importance of calorie consumption as it pertains to weight loss (or weight gain).

A common mistake is over emphasizing exercise as the ONLY way to burn calories. This can become a vicious cycle of constantly needing to do MORE.

To take a brief step back, calories are simply a way to measure energy.

When it comes to looking at caloric (energy) burn, it’s helpful to discuss a fitness acronym known as TDEE: Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

There are four things that contribute to TDEE.

1. Basal Metabolic Rate. This includes basic functions carried out by your body like breathing. One thing to note here. More muscle mass requires more energy (calorie expenditure). This is one of they key reasons people talk about muscle mass boosting your metabolic rate.

2. Physical Activity. Simply put, this is the calories burned during exercise.

3. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). I’ve talked about NEAT quite a bit in past newsletters so I won’t belabor the point here, but I believe this is where most people can create the most significant impact in caloric burn. NEAT includes all the physical activities that are not necessarily structured exercises. Think things like gardening, shoveling snow, or taking the stairs. What is a way to increase your overall activity 10-15 minutes a day? The effect could lead to some dramatic progress!

4. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). This is the amount of calories it takes to actually digest your food. White bread practically melts in your mouth, so it doesn’t require very much energy to digest. Whereas, high fiber, high protein foods will take significantly more energy to digest. This is an important concept to grasp because it means that 100 calories from a processed food is not the same as 100 calories from an unprocessed food.