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Let Exercise and Cardio Serve It's TRUE Purpose

Updated: Feb 6

Don't "qualify" training by "quantity" of calories burned!

We've ALL fallen into the trap, haven't we? You know what I'm talking about...where we over consume calories on Friday and, therefore, "punish" ourselves on Saturday by trying to burn as many calories as possible! I mean after all, it all comes down to "calories IN versus calories OUT", right?

The “calories in versus calories out” model is founded on the principle that to maintain a certain body weight, the number of calories you eat needs to match the number you utilize.

“Calories in” refers to the calories/energy you ingest from the foods you eat, while “calories out” is the number of calories/energy you expend - or burn.

While this is a simple explanation and makes sense on the surface, its not that easy!

The "calories in" side of the equation is supported by the idea that " a calorie is a calorie". And while that is true by definition (a unit of energy defined as the amount of heat needed to raise a quantity of water by one degree of temperature) the source of the "calories in" or type of food (carbohydrate, protein, and/or fat) containing the calories matters from the standpoint of the body's metabolic response to the food/calories! More on this in a later post - but sticking to the simple, the food you eat makes up the "calories in" side of the equation.

The "calories out" side of the equation is made up of 4 considerations or takes into account 4 different categories of the body's processes contributing to the total daily energy expenditure.

  • 60 - 80% Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

  • 10 - 15%Thermogenic Effect of Food (TEF)

  • 10 - 20% Lifestyle Activity/Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

  • 0 - 20% Exercise/Training Activity

What's the take home message? Your body burns calories 24/7 without adding exercise to your day's activity...let alone ramping up the level of intensity or targeting "more calories burned" to a plan that already included exercise/training! While "calories burned" is a byproduct of exercise/training, I would contend that making it the goal of exercise/training is futile.

The benefits of exercise is so much more than "calories burned" and should be practiced with a personalized and goal specific strategic approach to improved performance versus a self imposed "punishment" for what you ate the day before!

So what might you do instead to earn back the overconsumed calories from "the day before"? The first bit of advice would be to keep in mind that 1 day of calories above your daily plan will not cause weight/fat gain...weight/fat gain (and likewise loss) occurs as a result of what you do over the course of dayS and weeks, not hours and A day - so give yourself a break and don't stress it! That said, the second bit of advice is simple - replace some of the calories you plan on eatING today with the calories you have already eatEN yesterday. Maybe opt for skipping breakfast and enjoying a leisurely walk instead or replace any and all liquid calories with only water for the day!

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