The Three Ways to Burn Calories

How do you burn calories fast? This question often goes hand in hand with weight loss plans. How do you get the most bang for your buck in this fast-paced world when it comes to attaining and maintaining your desired physique?


But first things first…What are calories? A calorie is the unit of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. The three macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – provide calories. Heat is released when your body breaks down these consumed substances, which is why we say that we “burn” calories. This process of generating heat is called thermogenesis. You need a certain number of calories to carry out all your physical functions each day. This number of calories is your total daily energy expenditure. To prevent weight gain, your energy intake must not exceed your energy expenditure.


Your body expends energy through three different forms of thermogenesis: basal metabolism, physical activity, and food consumption.


Basal metabolism

Your basal metabolic rate (a.k.a. BMR) is the rate at which your body uses energy while you are at complete emotional, digestive, and physical rest to perform vital functions, such as breathing and blood circulation. You need a certain number of calories just to stay alive. Your basal metabolism accounts for 60-70% of your body’s thermogenesis. Individuals with more lean muscle mass and individuals who are growing have a higher BMR. The higher your BMR, the more calories you burn. What does this mean for you? It’s in your best interest to build your muscles through strength training, so that you burn more calories while you are at rest – yes, while you do NOTHING! Maintaining a high BMR throughout your life will help you maintain long-term weight loss. A common misconception is that strength training will lead you to look bulky like bodybuilders. You would need to train a certain way to attain the bulky look; the bulky look is not the automatic outcome from picking up weights or engaging in bodyweight exercises. Embrace strength training for your overall wellbeing!


Physical Activity

Your physical activity accounts for 20-35% of your body’s thermogenesis. Your basal metabolism is an involuntary process, while your physical activity is a voluntary process. YOU decide how much you move throughout your day. The amount of energy needed during your physical activity depends on your body weight; your muscle mass; and the activity’s duration, frequency, and intensity. The heavier the weight of the body part you’re moving and the larger the muscle mass, the more energy expended.


Food Consumption

Food consumption accounts for 5-10% of your body’s thermogenesis. As mentioned earlier, your body expends energy when breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each of these macronutrients requires a different amount of energy for processing. This heat generated from this process is called the thermic effect of food. Proteins need the most energy to be processed, followed by carbohydrates, and then fats. In fact, proteins have a thermic effect that is over five times greater than that of carbohydrates and fats. Therefore, in general, the thermic effect is higher for high-protein meals.



What is one new thing that you will do from now on that will help you burn more calories?



Demi Dee is a certified Canadian fitness trainer and holistic health coach, and the Founder and CEO of The Knockout Room®. Demi is the creator of The Knockout Protocol: Raising Your Superhero Tween to Look and Feel Her Best, her signature health program for moms and their tween girls.