Burn More Calories without Spending a Dime

Over the past couple of decades, there has been a significant increase in focus on our personal health. When it comes to fitness specifically, the number of different products and services available to get you off the couch is innumerable.

Just to give you an idea on how much we spend on fitness in a given year, the industry as, a whole, accounts for $87.5 Billion of the U.S. economy. Yup, that’s Billion with a “B”.

And, although most of these products and services will get you results when utilized properly, there is one area of movement that is often overlooked. More importantly, what I’m talking about is free. Yes, FREE. If you decide to take action on what we’re going to talk about, it could possibly account for an extra 2,000 calories of daily energy expenditure.

But, before we get to that, let’s take a look at what we do to burn energy and understand why that’s important…

The 3 Ways You Burn Energy

Before we get started, I want to make one thing clear. When I say “energy”, what you should hear in your head is “calories”. The reason is, calories are simply little packets of energy. It’s what you’re body uses to function. So when I say that something is going to increase the energy you burn, think “increase the number of calories burned”.

When it comes to burning energy, it’s actually pretty simple to figure out what we need to do to burn more. That’s because there are only 3 ways we burn energy.

I know that seems silly. I mean, how many different types of exercise are available?! Crossfit, Zumba, running, walking, Yoga, P90X…the list goes on. These are all different ways to burn energy, right? Well, not necessarily. Yes, these are all different types of exercise, but they all fit into one “energy burning” category.

To clarify things a bit, let’s take a look at the 3 ways your body burns energy. Then we can start to break down how we can burn more energy for FREE. Which, in turn, will help move you closer toward your fitness goals:

Resting Metabolic Rate

Also known as the Basal Metabolic Rate (resting just seemed like an easier word to understand), your Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, is the amount of energy it takes your body to function at rest. Your RMR accounts for 60% of your daily energy expenditure.

We talk about our RMR all the time. I imagine you’ve had a conversation or two with your doctor about it. But, typically, when we’re talking about RMR, we refer to it as your metabolism.

There are many misunderstandings about RMR in society. For instance, it’s generally accepted knowledge that your metabolism slows down as you get older, which is why you get fat as you get older.

I’m here to tell you that, if you fit into this “older” category, there is hope after all. Yes, your RMR does slow down naturally as you get older. However, it will only slow down at the rate YOU SLOW DOWN. Let me repeat that again…it will only slow down at the rate you slow down.

To go along with this myth, since we believe that our slow metabolisms are the demise of our perfect bodies, we then start to reduce calories in hopes of staving off excess body fat as we age. Yet, ironically (or rather, paradoxically), when you decrease calories, your RMR decreases as well.

You read that right, too. When you eat less, your body will adapt and burn less energy.

Now, I’m not telling you this so that you start scarfing down every bit of food you see in order to start burning more calories. I just want to bring awareness to the fact that, caloric restriction leads to slower RMR.

Speaking of food, this brings me to our next stop in the energy burning list…

The Thermic Effect of Food

We’ve all heard of the 3 macro nutrients that are found in our foods: carbs, fats and proteins. Maybe you know a little bit about these macros, or maybe you know nothing. If you know nothing, I imagine you’ve been living under a rock for the majority of your life. There is constant debate about which macros you need more of your less of in order to lose fat, be healthy, gain muscle and so on.

For our purposes, we don’t care about any of that. It’s only important to understand that these 3 macros exist. Each of these 3 macros has a different effect on the body when it comes to digesting and burning energy.

This burning energy effect during digestion is called the Thermic Effect of Food, or TEF. Yes, your body burns energy as it digests food! Crazy, right?! It makes sense, now, that your RMR slows down as you consume less calories. TEF accounts for approximately 10% of your daily energy expenditure.

None the less, each of these macros has a different thermic effect. The macronutrient with the highest thermic effect is protein. This is partly why many fat loss diets are high in protein. 

Again, this doesn’t mean I’m telling you to start scarfing down protein in hopes of getting that 6 pack you’ve always wanted. There are many other factors that go into this. However, increasing your protein intake moderately is one way of increasing your TEF.

Another quick tip on increasing TEF: eat spicy foods, or put hot sauce or peppers on your food. This is probably the easiest way to increase TEF without having to actually change your macro consumption.

Which Brings us to our final energy burning category


Remember at the beginning of the article, when we talked about all the different types of exercise and how they fit into one category. Well, this is that category. Activity accounts for the final 30% of our daily energy expenditure.

And, technically, I’m lying to you when I say that. Because activity can be broken up into 2 sub-categories


Every body knows what exercise is. But, there’s an important distinction to make in the activity category, and this is the reason there are 2 sub-categories.

We have a member, Brian, who owns a landscaping company. This is tough work. He’s outside all day, pulling up bushes, laying down bricks, putting out mulch…you know, all the yard stuff you don’t want to do.

Brian recently did a short bio video with us (which you can watch HERE). In the video he mentioned that people ask him why he works out if he already does so much physical work?! Brian’s answer reflects the distinction between exercise and the type of work he does:

“I couldn’t do my work without working out”

Let me break this apart a bit. The definition of exercise is activity for the PURPOSE of increasing health and fitness. Therefore, the distinction is in the purpose of the activity. Although Brian is burning a ton of calories doing his work, he is not working for the PURPOSE of improving his health.

#2) NEAT

Which brings us to the second sub-category in activity. What Brian is doing in his daily work is what you call NEAT.

NEAT is an acronym that stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, anything that you don’t do that is not exercise (remember, PURPOSEFUL activity) fits here. This can be cutting the grass or doing laundry or walking around the mall while you’re shopping.

For the overall Activity category, there can be a 2,000 calorie deficit in your daily energy expenditure. So, somewhere in here you could be missing 2,000 calories a day! But, which one of these sub-categories accounts for the majority of those missing calories?

Let’s break it down and see. The average person who exercises burns about 300 calories per exercise session. That means that NEAT accounts for approximately 1700 missed calories throughout the day!

So what can you start to do to increase your NEAT and make up for this deficit?

Fight Your Lazy Elephant

Your mind is divided into 2 parts: your conscious and subconscious minds. Think your subconscious mind as an elephant, meandering about, doing what it wants to do, controlling things almost every step of the way. You conscious mind, on the other hand, is the rider on top of the elephant. The rider tries to pull, prod, and steer the elephant in different directions. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t.

You elephant accounts for more than 80% of your daily activity. This means that the vast majority of your day is done subconsciously! Think about this example: have you ever gotten into your car after work and, low and behold, 15 minutes later ended up in your drive way. You don’t really remember the car ride itself. All you know is you were at work then you were at home.

This is your subconscious mind, and your day is filled with activities like this. The goal, then, is to fight your lazy elephant by doing some smaller tasks that can add up to bigger rewards in the long-run.

For instance, next time you have the chance, take the stairs at work or wherever you are. Seems silly right?! How can that be helpful? Well, research shows that taking the stairs for at least 10 minutes a day can decrease your LDL cholesterol of 8% and increase your cardiovascular output of 17%! That’s totally worth it!

Intermittent Stretching

Another strategy for increasing the amount of NEAT in your day is intermittent stretching. Sitting at a desk all day can be exhausting mentally. What most of us don’t know is, once we’ve sat for about 60 minutes, our productivity starts to decrease…and at a pretty drastic rate.

One way to counter this effect, and to increase your NEAT at the same time, is to set a timer. The timer should go off every 30-45 minutes (this is going to be different for each person). When your timer goes off, that means you get up from your desk, and get away from your area for 3-5 minutes.

That does not mean you get your phone out and check on Facebook and check your texts or check your email. The point here is to relax your brain and stretch your body. You’ll be happy you implemented this one, as it will have a huge impact on your daily energy and you productivity at work!

So start to fight your lazy elephant and set intentional time for you to get up and move. These strategies, alone, will increase your health and wellbeing substantially!

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