The pyramid of metabolism

I'm sure you've heard the word metabolism, probably too many times, but do you know what it's like?

You don't need a degree in biochemistry or nutrition, but by knowing the four factors that have the greatest impact on metabolism, you can use that to your advantage.

But first of all, it's important to know, what is a calorie?

Calorie is a unit of measure, more precisely, is the amount of heat needed to raise 1 gram of water, 1º C.

Everyone has a different caloric need, so there is no global measure.


Metabolism pyramid

The pyramid consists of:

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  • BMR – Basal metabolic rate
  • NEAT (+NEPA) – Thermogenesis of the activity without exercise
  • TEA – Thermal effect of physical activity
  • TEF – Thermal effect of food

Basal metabolic rate – BMR

The BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories an individual burns daily at rest, just enough to breathe, reason and survive.

If we have to give this factor of the pyramid a weight, it's about 60% of our daily caloric expenditure.

This value is directly associated with body weight, body composition, gender, age and genetics.

Inevitably, in general, a larger body has a larger BMR.

Generally speaking, this is why women have a lower caloric need than men.


Thermogenesis of the activity without exercise – NEAT

Neat (Non-Exercise Activity Expenditure) is the number of calories burned to stay stable, whether you're typing on Facebook or other activities that aren't directly related to exercise.

If we include nepa (Non effort physical activity) in this category, it is possible to consider activities such as walking the dog, tidying the house, etc.

It should be noted that this is highly variable, both day by day and from person to person.


Thermal effect of physical activity – TEA

The Thermogenic Effect of Activity (TEA) is the number of calories burned during exercise.

Usually, and based on our case, calories are lost during cardiovascular training sessions or weight training.

The amount of energy expended in ASD is clearly dependent on the duration and intensity of training.


Thermal effect of food – TEF

For some it may be a surprise, but yes, we also burn calories while we eat.

Digestion is an active metabolic process.

Who has never felt heat, or sweats, after a big meal? Especially after large amounts of protein.

This Factor of TEF (Termogenic Effect of Food) represents about 5-10% of our daily caloric expenditure.

You can find some more information about this phenomenon here.

Given the above, let's now consider all variables.

Energy consumed = BMR + NEAT + TEA + TEF

There are people who tend to minimize bills, with the theory that the law of thermodynamics is simple, just subtract only the calories ingested by the calories spent.

As can be seen, predicting our caloric expenditures is a more complex process than what we often want.

Why does basal metabolism differ between individuals?

Each person burns a certain number of calories per day, and this value consists of the basal metabolic rate (BMR), thermal effect of physical activity (ASD), thermogenesis of exercise-free activity (NEAT) and thermal effect of food (TEF).

As such, it makes no sense to try to find the perfect formula, nor the magic calculator, to find your required maintenance calories.

The most efficient way to do this is to monitor, as best as possible, your NEAT, TEA and BMR estimated, and in addition, your total calorie, in order to find approximately your maintenance calories.

To make it easier to understand the immeasurable difference, a person with an extremely active job can burn up to 500 more calories a day compared to a person with a sedentary job.

And now, what to do with this information?

Basically, when you understand how your body works, you can monitor in more detail what happens on a daily basis.

Usually, the people who pay more attention to these details, are people in the phase of fat loss.

For these people, here are some tips that may be useful.

  • The BMR will inevitably go down.
    It's the body's way of defending itself from caloric restriction.
  • Neat will tend to decrease due to caloric restriction and extra tiredness, and it is normal to rest longer.
    Here the proposal is to raise as many times as possible, consuming as many calories as possible, which do not create fatigue to what is already in THEE.
  • Tendily, people bet on increasing the caloric deficit by increasing ASD in the form of cardiovascular exercise, or exercise/metabolic circuits.
    It may be a bad idea, given that if there is no monitoring and management of fatigue, the trend may be to lower BMR and NEAT.
  • To ensure the most efficient Tef, always bet on plenty of protein.
    Besides being very important for maintaining muscle mass at this stage, it contributes with higher VALUES of TEF.


mArticle written by Team Sik Nutrition

About the author

Team Sik Nutrition is a recent group of people passionate about the world of Fitness. Team's focus is to guide, educate and motivate those interested in achieving their health goals, both physical and performance. All this sharing is based on scientific facts and experience of team members.

The CEO of Team Sik Nutrition is João Gonçalves. Amateur powerlifter, passionate about Fitness and writing articles.

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