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How Does Your Body Expend Calories?

Posted May 10 2011 9:08pm

The human body is such an amazing organism that it's constantly utilizing calories for daily functions, some of which you may not even be aware of. Functions such as breathing, changing hormone levels, blood circulation, growing and repairing of your cells and even the pumping of your heart, all require calories. The number of calories it takes to carry out these activities while resting is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). About 60-65% of your daily calories are used for your BMR but there are also a few other ways your body expends calories. It takes calories for your body to process the food you eat. It takes calories to chew, absorb, digest and transport the calories you consume in the form of: carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol. Note to self: it takes more energy (calories) to break-down protein than any other food source. About 10-15% of your daily calories are needed for thermogenesis to occur, also known as Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). The third way your body expends calories is through daily physical activity (or Thermic Effect of Exercise) (stair climbing, lifting, walking etc) and exercise (+). The more active and heavier you are = the higher the caloric expenditure will be. You can expend about 15-20% of calories via Exercise and Daily Physical Activity. This is where I also like to add in - NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis)(think fidgeting an tapping your foot) and EPOC or excess post oxygen consumption (the calories that sum of us burn post exercise if the intensity is high enough). The best way to burn calories when it comes to exercise is to perform circuit- based strength training and interval-based cardio three to four times a week. Through strength training, your able to build muscle over time (about 3 lbs. lean tissue in 12 weeks according to research). Muscle is more metabolically active compared to fat (adipose tissue) - three pounds of muscle would burn about 18-21 calories/day while the same amount of fat would burn 6 calories/day. In other words muscle burns three times more calories than fat and takes less space on your body because it's denser than fat. 
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