Calories Part 1: Some basic science.


Part 1: Some basic science

First let’s start with some basic science. A calorie is simply a unit of energy, and this ‘energy’ or more importantly, energy balance is what will ultimately lead to weight loss or weight gain. When we think of calories, we more often than not instantly think of calories in food which is fine, with our thoughts after that moving towards the calories that we burn by exercising, again this is fine, but there is a little bit more to it than that.

Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is pretty much where all calories fall on a day to day basis. This TDEE is basically how many calories are burned when all activity, not just exercise, is taken into account and this is made up of 3 main areas…

1. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) – this is the amount of energy your body needs to perform vital functions, at rest, such as breathing. This equates to roughly 60% of your total daily energy expenditure.

2. Activity exercise expenditure – this is the amount of energy that your body will burn off doing actual exercise, such as going to the gym or going for a run and this equates to roughly 30% of your daily expenditure. This section can be split in to another 2 sub sections but that is for another day!

3. Thermic effect of food (TEF) – this is the calories that are burned off when actually digesting the food you eat. Different macros (food groups) all burn off a different percentage of calories consumed. Roughly 10% of you daily expenditure is burned through TEF.

*The three percentages above all vary depending on the activity levels of the individual.

The three areas that are above make up what is often known as your maintenance calories, now there are a few ways and calculations that lead us to your daily maintenance, each giving a rough figure to work towards. Check out the macro calculator on the website for this. The key thing once one maintenance is established is establishing where you sit on the energy balance scale. Are you in a calorie surplus (eating for weight gain) or a calorie deficit (eating for weight loss). This energy balance will ultimately determine whether you will lose weight or gain weight, and this is something I will go to in detail later in the series.

A little recap for you…

- A calorie is a unit of energy.

- various aspects of day to day life will contribute to burning calories and vary depending on activity levels.

- weight loss and weight gain is determined by energy balance.

Hope this helps!

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