Metabolism Makeup – Remember Your Acronyms

October 8, 2018
Chris Reed
Book with handwritten metabolism chemical structures.Metabolism Makeup

BMR, TEF, & NEAT

Although they don’t look like much, the three acronyms listed above are the building blocks of your metabolism. In other words, it is your ability to burn calories, strip fat, and provide you with energy for the day. We all know someone with a “fast” metabolism, but could it be they just hack their energy systems? Let’s take a dive into what these acronyms are and how they affect our overall metabolism.

BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate

Simply put, your BMR is the number of calories your body demands by simply being alive. In order to keep your body “on,” blood has to circulate through your veins, cells need to be repaired, and vital organs have daily tasks to perform. All these things require energy and are the foundation of our metabolism. BMR makes up 50-65% of the number of calories you burn from sitting all day without any movement, potentially for 20-23 hours a day. I just tested mine yesterday using Advantage Training’s InBody 570 and found that my BMR is 1,850 calories. However, a large influence of BMR is the amount of skeletal muscle mass you have. The good news is that we can control this factor! With targeted training we can build muscle, which in turn increases our body’s metabolism. The more muscle fibers we have, the more calories we burn on a day-to-day basis at rest – before we factor in exercise.

TEF: Thermic Effect of Food

When we eat, our mouths, stomach, and intestines use calories for digestion. They break down the food we eat, and heat is produced as a by-product of this work. Although it only accounts for 10-15% of our metabolism, it does still have an effect. Some types of foods are going to take more energy to break down and get into our system. Fats and simple carbs from things like candies and cookies will break down rapidly, meaning a lower TEF and a lower calorie expenditure. Complex carbohydrates, like those from sweet potatoes or squash, will take more energy to digest. Furthermore, protein has the highest TEF of the three major macronutrients. A diet higher in protein can not only contribute toward repairing muscle damage, but it can also help burn more calories while you eat! That’s right, I said it: burn calories WHILE you eat.

NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

NEAT is a fun one because it is a simple way to boost your metabolism that a lot of people don’t think about. When you really decipher the words in the acronym, you see that it refers to the calories burned during activities that are not planned exercise. Examples of NEAT would be vacuuming the house, washing the car, walking around the store, standing upright, and even fidgeting. You can’t fidget without moving muscles, and moving muscle results in calories burned. To increase our NEAT, just get out and move! Whether it be playing with the kids or doing some chores, it all counts, and it all adds up. Those people who move the most have the highest NEAT and typically the “fastest” metabolism. The simple benchmark of getting your 10,000 steps a day is a great way to hack this system.

Metabolism: The Big Picture

With BMR, TEF, and NEAT, we can adjust the number of calories it takes for our bodies to be up and running. By adding targeted training into our lifestyle, eating some more protein and less simple sugars, and simply moving around more, we can dramatically increase our metabolism. Start making small, consistent steps – no pun intended – and see big results down the road. Metabolism is fully in your control, so what will you make it do for you? At Advantage Training, we can help get you started on the right path. Come on by and see how you can hack your metabolism as one tool to reach your goals!

The following two tabs change content below.

Chris Reed

Chris is a native of Chicago, IL. Growing up he played every sport he could convince his parents to sign him up for, which shaped his current holistic approach to performance and training. After high school, Chris received a Bachelors in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Following that, Chris moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to pursue certification and a Masters in Athletic Training at the University of Arkansas. While there, Chris received the Athletic Training Student of the Year Award after his second year in the program. Immediately after graduating, he spent a year as an Intern Athletic Trainer with the Chicago Bears. Over his short time as a Certified Athletic Trainer and Athletic Training Student, he spent time in the high school circuit, Big 10, SEC, and NFL across multiple sports including football, baseball, track and field, and lacrosse. He uses his knowledge of injury rehabilitation and sport performance to guide realistic and thoughtful choices while progressing or regressing athletes. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, 12-inch softball, golf, and reading.