non exercise activity thermogenesis

Losing or Gaining Weight Made Simple

Losing or gaining weight is a relatively simple process, yet people tend to complicate the process by looking for short cuts or easy ways out of hard work and discipline. Let me preface this article by saying that it is not actually easy, it is difficult and will require a great deal of will power and dedication to what is often a very slow process. If you’re looking to lose or gain ten pounds of bodyweight in a week then this article isn’t for you. This is for people who are serious about making a change and are willing to work hard to make it happen.

The most important factor in losing or gaining weight is calorie balance. That is, consuming either more or less calories than you are using each day. How do you know how many calories you are burning each day? Well, the gold standard for determining this is through Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) testing via a metabolic cart which measures your caloric needs by assessing the amount of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled. This determines your RMR, which is the amount of calories you are expending at rest. However, since most individuals do not have access to or can’t afford this sort of testing the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) supports an equation, known as the Harris-Benedict Equation that can be used to give you a rough estimate. This equation uses you sex (male or female), height (cm), age (years), and weight (kg) to provide the estimate. The equations are as follows:

Male: (88.4 + 13.4 x weight) + (4.8 x height) – (5.68 x age) = Calories expended per day at rest.

Female: (447.6 + 9.25 x weight) + (3.10 x height) – (4.33 x age) = Calories expended per day at rest.

Again, remember we are using weight in kilograms, height in centimeters, and age in years. If you use height in inches and weight in pounds, aka freedom units, THIS WILL NOT WORK! And remember, this is only an estimate not an exact value.

Your RMR is NOT the total amount of calories you are burning per day. In fact, it is only one contributing factor. The total amount of calories an individual burns in a given day is known as Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and it comes from several sources including RMR, the thermogenic effect of food (TEF), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and, of course, exercise (Ex).


RMR and TEF are relatively constant from day to day with only small fluctuations due to muscle mass and conditioning, and to dietary shifts. The NEAT and exercise components (EPOC and Ex) have a much greater variability and can greatly influence you total daily caloric expenditure.

So how do we account for and determine for the NEAT and exercise components of TDEE?

Remember that equation we used for RMR? Well, you will simply take the number you found using that equation and multiply it by a given factor. What factor you multiply that by will vary based on how active you are in your everyday life.

1.2 = Sedentary (Desk job and little formal exercise)

1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Light daily activity and light exercise 1-3 days a week)

1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderately daily Activity and Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)

1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle and Hard exercise 6-7 days a week)

1.9-2.2 = Extremely Active (Athlete in endurance training and/or very hard physically demanding job)

Be honest with yourself, if you’re sedentary then claim sedentary you won’t be hurting anyone but yourself. Oh and again, these are rough estimates based on an already estimated RMR so it is NOT 100% accurate. 

Use the equations to find an estimate, stick to it for a week or two. If you gain weight in that time then your TDEE estimate is likely higher than your actual TDEE. Adjust by lowering the estimate by 250 calories per day and give it another try to week and see how that goes. Continue this until you find something pretty close to where you are maintaining your current weight. Likewise, if you lose weight in that time then you may need to up the estimated value by 250 calories or so per day and continue to adjust until you find where you are able to maintain your weight at.

Now that you know how many calories you need to maintain your weight it’s time to either lose or gain weight. If you want to lose weight then you need to consume less calories than is required for maintenance to be in a caloric deficit.  And likewise if you are trying to gain weight then you need to consume more calories than you are expending to be in a caloric surplus.

How big of a deficit or surplus should I be in per day? That’s not a very easy question to answer. Some have more weight to lose than others. So if you’re over 20% body fat then it may be a good idea to be in a larger caloric deficit than someone who is already relatively lean and under 20% body fat. Keep in mind that 20% is not a magical number, I’m just using this as an example but be real with yourself if you are obese or very overweight then you know it, likewise if you are very underweight you are also aware of this and know you should probably be trying to gain weight faster than the typical person. So where should you start? I would suggest starting out at no more than a 500 calorie per day deficit/surplus, this will set you up to lose/gain right around 1 pound of body weight per week. This is a pretty safe amount to lose or gain and still stay healthy. However, if you are very overweight or very underweight than I would suggest you start with a larger surplus or deficit of around 1,000 calories per day.

Calorie balance is a great start to either losing or gaining body weight. This article has given you sufficient information to get you on the right track towards weight management. In the next installment I will dig a little deeper into this topic and cover macronutrient (protein/fat/carbohydrate) intake.


(This an old post I feel many could benefit from reading)

As the winter months come to a close and people start to shed the layers of clothes, many will also be looking at shedding some fat to try and achieve that elusive beach body (I don’t even have a beach).

Now most of the people reading this surely know by now that in order to drop bf%, one must reduce their calorie intake and/or increase their energy expenditure through more activity/exercise. This is where a lot of people (including myself) have gone wrong. I’ve seen it so many times when someone goes from bulking, eating 3500 cal a day, to deciding it’s time to reveal my new found muscle by reducing calories to 1800 cal a day, increasing training frequency and then adding in HIIT and some LISS aswell.

Will you lose weight??? Ofcourse. And at a decent rate….for a while. Then as quickly as it begun you will slow down to a snail pace and then eventually plateau. So you reduce calories even more and double your cardio. Again, it works…but not for long. And now you feel like shit, have lost majority of the muscle you spent so long building and are still not as ‘ripped’ as you’d expected.

Progress plateaus are always going to occur. They are a human mechanism for survival. The body doesn’t like a change from its normal physiological state and, so to anyone who has ever tried to get freaky leans’ despise, works incredibly well at keeping it this way. In fact the body perceives your energy deficit as a survival threat rather than your attempt at getting lean, so it works to fix this. Halts in fat loss have two possible types of causes; psychological and physiological. Psychological basically refers to compliance to a program, under reporting calorie intake and over estimating physical activity. This is incredibly common. So before you go changing your diet or exercise make sure you are accurately aware of how much you’re consuming. Physiological adaption is a bit more complicated and can be broken down into further subclasses such as thermodynamic and hormonal.

Thermodynamic adaption refers to how the body adapts to what you’re doing by gaining efficiency. This means as the body gets more efficient it uses fewer calories to do the same activities, eventually resulting in closing your calorie deficit.

Hormonal adaption is a complicated area, and I’m not going to go into the depths of it here. Needless to say research is increasingly finding a number of possible physiological tools that are bad for us trying to lose fat.

So plateauing is inevitable to a degree, however it can be manipulated and overcome.

The answer? Do as little as possible to achieve the required outcome. By dropping calories massively, upping exercise frequency and increasing cardio all in one go, your using all your cards in one go. I recently decided I’d like to decrease bf%. Here is a plan of what I will employ in the next few months to counteract plateaus that will arrive and only when they do!

1. I started by decreasing my calories on rest days slightly by around 300( the size of your deficit will depend on the rate of loss your after), and brought my training day calories to maintenance.

2. As weightloss begins to really slow down ( im not in a hurry so it wont be fast anyway) or stop, I will increase activity on my rest days. Walks, stretching but nothing to intense. NEAT ( Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is really a hidden tool in fat loss. A conscious effort to maintain or increase this will greatly help. Especially people sitting for long periods of time. Get up and move!

3. As progress slows or stops again you can either reduce calories slightly again or include a session of HIIT

Basically you can follow this format down to pretty low levels of bf%. After the initial calorie reduction I wouldn’t reduce it again until other options have been utilised. I should also note that carbs are the best macronutrient to periodically reduce to drop calories. As your calories get lower a whole host of hormones can start playing up. This is when structured re-feeds (depending on size of calorie deficit) can play an important role, giving you a psychological break. It will also help long term adherence. As well as this, having a structured re-feed can help boost leptin levels which are often depressed during periods of eating in a deficit .

Finally, a lot of people don’t take into account REST. If we are eating less, moving more and therefor putting the body under stress, it’s important to get enough recovery time and sleep.

So remember unless you’re in a hurry, losing fat while maintaining as much muscle as possible is better done slower. There are a host of variables you can slightly adjust in order to stimulate your body into fatloss, and you should use them only when needed.

If your looking for help send me a message :)