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The four ways your body burns fat/calories. Do you know them? Do you know how to increase it?

In this article I identify the 4 ways in which your body expends energy (‘burns calories’) and give you some simple tips on how to increase this.

Firstly you need to understand these four areas….

Your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is quite simply your energy balance. Imagine yourself as a set of old weighing scales, one side is the energy put into your body (calories) (if you don’t know what they are, check out my article explaining CLICK HERE) on the other side of the scales is your energy expenditure and what we will be focusing on for now.


Energy expenditure is broken down into 4 sections BMR, TEF, NEAT, EAT which are…

BMR – basal metabolic rate. It’s what your body needs in order to operate, your heart to beat, your lungs to function and all your other organs to work. This is actually the largest portion of your expenditure.

NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is what you burn doing daily activities, walking, climbing, standing, cooking, shopping etc. It is the second largest portion of your daily calorie burn and one which you can influence greatly.

TEF – thermic effect of food. It is what your body uses to break down food. This differs from person to person and also differs with the food you eat. So for example, it takes a lot more energy to break down protein than it does fats and carbohydrates. That’s why a lot of high protein diets claim to aid fat loss, but it doesn’t really help you lose fat it just requires more energy to break it down.

EAT – exercise activity thermogenesis. Is the amount of energy you burn when training. It isn’t quite as much as you may think, in fact it’s actually the smallest portion in your day. This doesn’t mean don’t train, it still adds to the total calorie expenditure and is both mentally and physically a health benefit.

Below is a table to give you a visual of these splits. NREE – Non-Resting Energy Expenditure, REE – Resting Energy Expenditure

Components of total daily energy expenditure TDEEBMRbasal metabolic rate.png

Having an understanding the 4 areas in which your body uses energy, you will also be aware that by consuming more calories (fuel) than your use, you will put on weight and the opposite when consuming less you’ll be reducing and losing weight/body fat.

You don’t need to know the ins and outs of how your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) works but by having a better understanding it will help you in reaching your goal.

For example, if you want to increase the calories used while braking down the foods you consume, then eat a little more protein. (TEF) 

If you want to increase the calories used when training (EAT) then train a little harder, resulting in more output.

Then finally with your NEAT just make better decisions…

  • walk to the local shops rather than driving
  • when on the phone put your head phones on and walk or get on with tidying
  • taking the stairs and not using the lift
  • park the car in the bay furthest from the shops rather than at the door
  • when taking public transport, stand rather than sit

The list goes on, but as you can see, you are in charge of how many calories your burn and it all comes down to the decisions you make on a daily basis.