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Movement for fat loss

Danae van den Berg, a strength and conditioning coach at the Better Body Group, answers the most prominently asked question in the fitness industry.

The question most prominently asked in the fitness industry is, ‘how do I lose fat?’ This article will aim to explain this, fully equipping you with the knowledge to achieve your goals by emphasising the importance of movement! Firstly, we need to understand the meaning of a calorie deficit and how to use it to your advantage. This may be a familiar term, and the good news is that it is scientifically impossible to NOT lose weight while you are in one.

Simply, being in a calorie deficit means that your body is consuming LESS calories than it’s burning during the day. Now while this in itself is a topic for another time, it’s useful because once you know how much you’re consuming, you can optimise your energy expenditure to ensure you’re burning more than you’re taking in. That’s the secret to fat loss, and what this article will unpack!

Resting Energy Expenditure: To most effectively use the fat loss tools at your disposal, you have to understand how your body spends its energy during the course of your day. TDEE, or your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, consists of two parts. The first, taking up a massive 70% of your body’s TDEE, is your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). These are the calories your body expends completing basic life-sustaining functions at rest, such as breathing, circulation, cell production and the like. What amazing bodies we have!

Non-resting energy expenditure: While 70% of our energy is used for our most basic functions, there is another 30% to account for. This is the other 30% of your body’s TDEE, and includes the Thermic Effect of Food, or TEF, using another 10%. This is the energy it takes for your body to digest, absorb and metabolise your food. As a rough example, if you burn 2000 calories a day, around 200 of those will be burnt just from digesting!

We’re about to get to the fun part, where we look at the parts of our TDEE that we can really utilise! Namely, EAT, or Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the basic exercise we do in a day, accounting for our hour spent in the gym, at a spin class or anything of the sort. Sadly, this only accounts for 5% of your daily expenditure, which leads us to the next point.

Non-resting energy expenditure: Have you ever wondered why your trainer keeps telling you to MOVE? Or why your fitness watch is automatically set to a 10,000 step target? This is due to NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, making up a whopping 15% of your total energy expenditure. That’s higher than both your EAT and TEF! Essentially, NEAT is the movement you do OUTSIDE of your normal training. Namely, it ranges from walking the dogs, playing with your kids, cooking a meal or even fidgeting!

So unfortunately for fat loss, a really tough training session is just not enough to burn all the calories you need burnt to be in that calorie deficit. While 15% may not seem like much, it adds up! And why not make the most of the tools available to you and get out there and increase the calories you expend in a day!

Conclusion: Fat loss can be tricky and daunting, but having the right tools and knowledge will help you get to your goals that much faster. Now that you know your stuff, it should make sense why movement is so important. So get up, go for a walk and watch your calorie deficit increase! Piece of cake.

Danae van den Berg is Exercise Specialist at the Better Body Group. For more information or any questions, please call the friendly and expert team on 01732 451979 or email them at



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