EAT, TEF, NEAT, BMR… WTF?

New Year’s Resolutions have to be the largest time of the year to start, or restart for some, a fitness plan.  

Come January 1, gyms and fitness centers are inundated with new members training their asses off, but come February 1 about half of those new folks are gone, and by March 1st less than 10% of those who started in January will continue for the reminder of the year. 

Surprised? Eh, not really. 

The second big push for joining a fitness program is mid to late May and can be attributed to school letting out for the summer months and college kids home for the break, but let’s get back on track.  

Why a 90% attrition rate? 

This is 100% my opinion here so take it to heart, but there is a complete breakdown and lack of education most gyms do not provide simply because it’s bad for business.  Think about it, the fitness model, for all it’s pandering, is focused on getting contracts signed and memberships sold come January 1, but they operate on less than 10% of their membership base walking in the door each day.  

Active memberships for the average commercial fitness center is 5,000 – 10,000 memberships (Lifetime Fitness for example is 10,000+ active for their multi-use gym). On January 1 they want you walking in the door letting friends and family know you joined and hoping you bring them in to join. You hit the gym, get your cardio in, eat right, see some great results the first couple weeks, in week 3 maybe see a pound or two gone THEN… 

Watch your progress coming to a screeching halt around the first part of February and you are like WTF is going on here?????? 

Let me ‘esplain’: 

To begin, the body has am amazing ability to direct how and where calories are being utilized, but let me make a point that needs to be addressed. The usage of calories by the body is to maintain homeostatic balance is dynamic and fluid meaning the body’s needs do not reset after midnight; so in fact what you are eating today for dinner can and will have an affect on your needs and performance the following morning.  

To understand how the body breaks down the percentage of energy (aka calories) is used, check out the graph below. 

I realize these acronyms look like I’m referring to a fraternity, but let’s dive into each concept, and you can understand what each means for you:

EAT = Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: very simple is the amount of calories directly burned when you exercise (around 5%). As you notice, this burns the LEAST amount of total calories meaning it is much more critical to be passively active and choose the right foods throughout the day.  

TEF = Thermic Effect of Food stands for how much energy your body uses to process and digest the foods you eat. Simple carbs (sugars) take the least amount of energy, whereas proteins require the most amount of energy to break down and digest; perfect example… meat sweats. So yes your body does need to utilized energy (calories) to process food, and since one typically eats 2-6 times per day, then yes there will be quality amount of energy burned. 

Now I know some may tote the belief of, “well since I burn more calories every time I eat, I need to eat 6-8 times per day…”

Bullshit. While yes you will technically utilize more calories if you eat more times per day (usually less than 50 calories), the amount of total calories you would consume in most cases far outweighs the amount of calories utilized to digest, process and eliminate. Oh and in case you are wondering:

NEAT = Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is one of the major components of your total daily energy expenditure (calories burned). This is any and all movements that is not planned exercise: walking the dog, walking to your car, tapping your leg up and down while waiting for your wife at the store, dancing around the kitchen to the Bee Gee’s when you cook… oh wait, that’s just me? Whatever, fuck off. 

These can add up to a significant amount of calories expended by the end of the day; however some people naturally have a higher NEAT and can burn up to 1000 extra calories just from unplanned movement, whereas others may have a lower NEAT and might only burn 200 extra calories. 

BMR = Basal Metabolic Rate has to be the most recognized acronym in relation to weight loss / caloric deficit and takes about 70% of your daily expenditure. These are the amount of calories the body needs to optionally function… ya know… at rest. Many take this number, and automatically adjust their deficit number based on this, buuuut by doing this other vital systems the body uses can and may be in fact become compromised.

Even heard of someone close to you who went on a diet and shortly after came down with the cold or the flu? I’m not a medical doctor, I did play one once in middle school so that counts for something 😂, but we are being exposed to airborne bacteria, pathogens, illnesses and other nasty items every single day, so it is absolutely reasonable to assume our body’s own immune system could be negatively compromised when dropping our calories too low leading us to be more susceptible to illnesses. Scary stuff right?

The remaining sections: NREE = Non-Resting Energy Expenditure is the total number of calories the body uses when combining EAT, TEF and NEAT and accounts about 30% of your expenditure; REE = Resting Energy Expenditure: just a fancy way of saying BMR and TDEE = Total Daily Energy Expenditure and is the total amount of calories your body utilizes to support biological functions (REE aka BMR) and your daily activity and energy required to digest and process foods.

Now that we have defined each of their roles, and purposes, let’s get to putting this together and start putting together a plan.

Let me preface this by saying, I am NOT a Registered Dietician and this is for information purposes only. Be sure to speak to your medical doctor before beginning or making any changes to your health plan. This is especially important if you are currently under the care of a medical professional. 

There are plenty of methods available to calculate how many calories you should and should not have. Sure I can give you the formula’s to calculate all this stuff, but let’s let technology do the deed for us and the the website I use is My Fitness Road.

A few clicks and you enter your information, activity level and it will spit out your BMR and your TDEE estimates in mere seconds; I did mine and here are the results:

Next, scroll down and you can estimate your deficit simply by choosing your % goal… choosing the 10% or 15% option may be a better choice in the beginning especially if the goal is to avoid the yo-yo dieting and make this sustainable. 

Finally if you want to go down the rabbit hole, you can pull your Macros, but a word of caution: 

It is so very easy to obsess on reaching your macros. I mean between tracking and logging your foods, it can get all consuming if you don’t hit everything perfectly, and guess what… you’re not!

Yes your protein might be right on point, but you are on track for hitting your calorie goal, but your carb or fat macros are off and how you don’t know how the hell you are going to pull this off!!!

Ok, first of all breathe… secondly let’s break this down to be so incredibly easy. The only two numbers you want to keep track of is

1) your protein number and

2) your total calories. 

That’s it. 

Seriously, since you are tracking and keeping yourself in a slight deficit, as long as you are meeting your calorie goal and your protein number is on point, fats and carbs will even themselves out pretty easily. 

So again, using my stats, my goal is to hit 190 grams of protein daily and hit 2,400 calories =/- daily.

It is very much that simple.  

Oh and just for clarification, don’t have a fit if you don’t hit your calorie goal each day. Say your deficit goal is 1,800 calories, and Monday you log 1,725 and the next day you go slightly over and log 1,835…

Now if you go hog-ass wild and throw back a few cocktails, half a pizza and a couple bowl’s of Blue Bell… 

It’s really not a big deal, just put that day behind you and start back over the next day and work the plan day-by-day. 

I realize this is quite a bit of information to digest, and if you have any questions or need additional help setting this up, shoot me a message and let’s set up time to hop on a phone call. 

Have an awesome weekend!!

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