Through this post we are going to take a look at how your body expends energy and how we can optimise this for fat loss. Training plays just a small part towards your daily calorie burn, but it’s what most people focus on the most and that’s why it’s useful to know where the rest of your calories are burnt, so you can optimise the other areas and potentially get to your goal quicker.

Generally working out your calories to cater for a certain goal is becoming well known and well practised through apps (check out our calorie intake for fat loss post) but what these apps fail to educate you on is exactly why they have come up with the calorie target. So let’s dive in and look at where your calories go…

The above graph gives you an insight to where your calories go at rest and at non-rest. You can see the majority is burnt at rest which is called your basal metabolic rate and the rest is burnt through our daily activities and through digestion. You can manipulate both resting and non-resting energy expenditure which would speed up your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories, keep reading to find out how…

(BMR) Basal metabolic rate

Energy required to sustain vital functions in the waking state, that includes the following:

  • Brain function
  • Respiration
  • Digestion
  • Reflects the bodies heat production marginally influenced by body composition

Greater muscle mass = Greater BMR

Each additional 1lb muscle = +7kcals burnt / day

Losing muscle can lower your daily calorie burn which can make it harder to lose body fat. This is why building/maintaining muscle should be a priority when in a calorie deficit and why strength training is a vital piece of the puzzle and should be apart of your weekly routine.

(NEAT) Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

Includes conscious/unconscious activity

  • 10k steps, shopping, gardening, cleaning etc

It accounts for 20% of your TDEE

A hugely overlooked and under-utilised tool for fat loss. 

Most people will overlook 10k steps per day, mainly because it’s not a sweaty workout that feels like you’re doing lots. 10,000 steps equates to on average around 5km. Imagine how many more calories you’d burn on average if you did keep up this simple but effective tool. This could be your secret weapon to not only getting to your goals but it can also free up some calories so you can eat more and maintain a solid physique.

(TEF) Thermic effect of food

Also know as DIT (diet-induced thermogenesis)

When you eat food, your body must expend some energy (i.e. calories) to digest, absorb, and store the nutrients in the food you’ve eaten, therefor you will see an Increase in metabolic rate after the ingestion of a meal.

TEF significantly increases as energy content of meal increases

TEF Differs with macronutrients

Protein > Alcohol > Carbohydrate > Fat

(EEE) Energy expended during exercise

Accounts for 10% of your daily calorie burn. It is the reason that the 23hrs you spend outside of the gym matter when it comes to body composition goals.

Metabolic equivalent tables (compendium) measure the intensity of an exercise/activity and can be tracked through following this method. 

Heart rate monitors/trackers can be unreliable in level of inaccuracy when tracking calories burnt, but can give you a rough estimate.


  • Building muscle will enable you to burn more daily calories. (Each additional 1lb muscle = +7kcals burnt / day).
  • Generally being more active will boost your overall calorie expenditure, don’t underestimate getting in your 10k steps.
  • Try to eat more protein in your diet to fully utilise the thermic effect of food, help build/maintain muscle and reduce hunger.
  • Exercise consistently with a mix of strength, aerobic and anaerobic work to build overall fitness and functionality.