Unfortunately, exercise doesn't actually burn that many calories. In fact, as you can see from the pie chart above, formal training burns very few calories (10-20%) compared to the total number of calories you burn throughout the entire day. This is why the saying "you can't out-train a bad diet" is so true.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) - This represents the energy it takes for your body to just be alive. Even if you lay in bed all day and tried not to move an inch, you would burn a significant amount of calories. RMR accounts for approximately 50-70% of the calories you would burn in a typical day.
Thermic Eddect of Food (TEF) - This is the energy it takes to digest and absorb the food that you eat. Yes, digesting food actually burn calories, just not nearly as many calories as you get from the food itself. TEF accounts for approximately 10% of the calories you would burn in a typical day.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) - This is the energy you use just moving around doing your normal daily activities. Walking the dog, picking things up, cooking, scrolling social media, talking, etc. These movements add up throughout the day and account for approximately 10-20% of the calories you burn each day.
Exercise Energy Expenditure (EEE) - This is the energy you use to perform the formal exercise. Things like lifting weights, running, group fitness classes, etc. The number of calories burned from exercise varies on the intensity and length but typically accounts for approximately 10-20% of the calories burned in a typical day.
You can spend several hours exercising to burn 1000 calories but eating 1000 calories can take as little as 10 minutes. However, this doesn't mean you should stop exercising altogether. It just means you should stop trying to use exercise as the ONLY tool for controlling your weight and body composition. Instead, look at exercise as training to improve performance, learn new skills, longevity, move pain-free, build muscle, and get really freakin strong. Then, use your nutrition, recovery, health parameters, etc. to control what happens on the scale, in the mirror, and how your clothes fit. If your resting metabolic rate is the key to weight loss then you're probably asking, "How do I increase my resting metabolic rate (RMR)?" I answer this below.
Tips to Improve RMR
Increase Your Muscle Mass - This is where resistance training comes into play. Muscle burns more calories than fat because muscles are high maintenance tissues. Your body needs to expel more energy in order to maintain them because they are constantly in use. People with higher muscle mass end up burning more calories than people with low muscle mass, even when they’re just sitting around.
Maintain Your Caloric Intake - This may sound counter-intuitive, but when you restrict your calories too much, your body enters survival mode and tries to hold onto the calories it gets. Your metabolism will drop as a result.
Eat More Protein - Foods that are high in protein are usually low in fat and calories. When you increase your protein intake, your body will use more energy to burn them than it would for fats and carbs.
Get a Good Night Sleep - Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on your metabolism. Check out last month's article on how to fall asleep faster and better.
This will not only help you succeed in fitness but it will also save you from heading down the dangerous path of overtraining and undernourishing your body. Training and nutrition complement each other when executed properly.
If you're unsure what you should be consuming on a daily basis to maximize performance and improve your aesthetics, I offer 1-on-1 nutrition coaching in the 1st Phorm App all year round. First, check out the tools that are provided to help you get results from weekly assessments to educational live streams by registered dieticians and download the app. Next, list me as your coach (PR1) and send me a message in the app to get started! It is only $12.99 a month!
If you feel like you're stuck in a plateau or just starting your fitness journey, I would love to help you reach your fitness goals. I offer custom programming and in-person personal training in the NYC area. Schedule your free consultation call here to learn more about how we will work together to achieve your goals.
Thanks for reading and as always, reach out if you need anything.