Achieving physique improvement goals is an uphill task, but one that can be achieved with the right mindset, determination, and approach. In our previous blog post, we talked about how to set proper goals, how to objectively measure them, and how to associate value to them. In this post, we will shift our focus to how to achieve those goals, and specifically, how to burn more calories than we consume.
The key to any successful weight loss program is to create a calorie deficit. In other words, we need to burn more calories than we consume. This is the fundamental math equation that is the basis of any weight loss program. However, this equation is not as simple as it may seem. It is complex and ever-adapting, but with the right approach, it can be mastered.
So, how do we create a calorie deficit? Let’s talk about the burn side of the equation first. What ultimately determines how many calories you burn? It comes down to four things:
1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): The number of calories you burn as your body performs basic life-sustaining functions like breathing, circulating blood, and maintaining body temperature. BMR accounts for about 70% of daily caloric expenditure. This means that even when you’re at rest, your body is burning calories.
2. Non-exercise activity throughout the day (NEAT): This includes all the energy you expend throughout the day doing everyday activities like walking around, fidgeting, and moving. NEAT accounts for about 15% of daily caloric expenditure.
3. Thermic effect of food (TEF): The amount of energy your body uses to extract energy from the food you eat. TEF accounts for about 10% of daily caloric expenditure.
4. Exercise: This is the energy you expend during planned physical activity, like going for a run, lifting weights, or doing a yoga class. Exercise accounts for about 5% of daily caloric expenditure.
The distribution above shows why people tend to struggle so much with sustained weight loss and I’ll explain more in our next article but now that we know what contributes to our daily caloric expenditure, we can begin to strategize on how to create a calorie deficit. To lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume, which can be achieved through a combination of reducing our caloric intake and increasing our physical activity level.
One way to reduce our caloric intake is by making smarter food choices. This includes reducing our intake of highly processed foods and increasing our intake of whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. We can also pay attention to our portion sizes and try to eat until we are satisfied, not until we are full.
On the other hand, we can increase our physical activity level by incorporating regular exercise into our daily routine. This includes finding an exercise routine that we enjoy and can stick to, whether that’s weightlifting, running, or dancing. It’s also important to find ways to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk during our lunch break.
In summary, achieving physique improvement goals requires a combination of reducing our caloric intake and increasing our physical activity level. Understanding the four factors that contribute to our daily caloric expenditure can help us strategize on how to create a calorie deficit. By making smarter food choices and incorporating regular exercise into our daily routine, we can achieve our weight loss goals and improve our overall health and well-being.