How our bodies use calories

How our bodies use calories

We hear the word “calories” so much these days, but what does it actually mean?

Well the technical description is “the amount of heat needed to raise a quantity of water by one degree of temperature”.

But when we talk about calories, we can simply translate it into the word “energy”.

Food contains energy, and we use this energy to breathe, think, digest and move.

More specifically, there are four main ways our bodies use calories:

1. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

This is how much energy your body needs whilst at rest to perform basic functions like breathing, digesting and thinking.

This can account for a massive 60 – 75% of your caloric needs, and we have little control over this.

2. The Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF)

This is the energy required for the digestion, transportation, metabolism and storage of food and accounts for around 10% of your caloric needs.

3. The Thermic Effect of Physical Activity (TEPA)

This is the energy used through physical activity such as running, lifting weights, dancing etc.

4. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

This includes daily movement like walking, fidgeting, shivering, shopping cleaning the house etc. and it can account for anywhere from 15 – 50% of our caloric needs.

As you can see, we use calories for much more than just exercise!

It’s important that we know this because it helps us to understand where we should be putting our efforts, but more importantly why dropping our calories too low may cause problems, which we will go into in the next lesson…