“METABOLISM” & “Cardio”

METABOLISM – BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) -TEF (Thermic Effect of Food) – EEE Exercise Energy Expenditure) – NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). 

Do you know why increasing cardio is not giving you the expected results? That’s because, during a caloric deficit, the physical activity components, Exercise and NEAT, of the calorie equation are inversely proportional to each other, the more exercise you do, the more your body will conserve energy and decrease NEAT (fidgeting, pacing, and overall desire to move).

  • BMR or Basal/Resting Metabolic Rate: Energy essential to maintain your body functioning.
  • TEF or Thermic Effect of Food: Energy utilized to break down and digest the food.
  • EEE or Exercise Energy Expenditure: Extra energy that is spent through intentional exercise. 
  • NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: Energy that you burn while moving around during the day that is not intentional exercise (pacing, fidgeting, bouncing, etc.)

This is how much each influence what we call metabolism: 

BMR: 50-60%

TEF: ~10%

EEE: ~5-15%

NEAT: ~20%

As we can clearly see, the function that consumes the most calories is our resting metabolic rate and the one that can make a difference during the day would be NEAT.

But our BMR seems to be the most important aspect, studies have shown that even when someone has a slower metabolism than normal, the variants aren’t large and it has minimal influence on weight loss/gain. That’s why, when calculating your BMR, a little miscalculation won’t make a large difference (~50/100 calories).

When we look at NEAT, that’s a different story because the difference in NEAT among people can be very high, a lot higher than a mere 50/100 calories from BMR. Depending on weight, height, age, and other factors, NEAT can vary by ~1000 calories from person to person. 

But, we have to be careful because EEE and NEAT are inversely proportional to each other, the more exercise you do, the more your body will conserve energy and decrease NEAT, and too much intentional cardio will eventually interfere with recovery as well. Walking or LISS tends to add intentional NEAT without affecting EEE much.

As coaches, we monitor recovery and energy/fatigue feelings weekly or on a daily basis in some cases to adjust these important factors because more is not always better.

Strategically increasing or decreasing your NEAT intentionally depending on your goals may make a difference but worrying about your BMR or counting calories to perfection may not.

The Role of Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis in Human Obesity:

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