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Have you ever heard or even said this?

In order for me to lose weight, I need to do more cardio.” 

Running for cardio.

While this statement could be true, is it necessary?

While there is benefit in “doing more cardio”, you can see the same benefit in simply moving more. In order to understand how this can be true, you need to understand TDEE


This stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This is the total amount of calories you burn in a day. Weight loss or gain is determined by your TDEE. If you eat more than your TDEE, you gain weight. If you eat less, then you lose weight. 

The statement “do more cardio to lose weight” seems to make sense then. Cardio burns calories, if you burn more calories than you eat, then you lose weight. Yes, but you don’t have to do just cardio to get there.

Break down of TDEE from Research Gate
Image cited from ResearchGate

Breaking Down TDEE vs Cardio

Let’s breakdown TDEE. The largest chuck is your BMR, which stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. You can also think of it as your Resting Energy Expenditure (REE). This is the amount of calories your body burns while at rest. BMR can make up 60-70% of your total TDEE depending on the amount of muscle mass you have. Having more lean muscle means you will have a higher BMR. Muscle costs more calories than fat. This is why strength training is so important, especially as we age.

The next largest chunk is your NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the amount of calories you burn while moving around throughout the day. This does NOT include exercise in the gym or vigorous activity. Activities that are considered part of your NEAT are walking, taking the stairs, standing, playing fetch with your dog, etc. NEAT can make up to 15% of your total TDEE. You can increase this by simply moving more throughout your day.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) and Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) make up the smallest chunks of your TDEE. TEF is the calories your body burns to break down and digest your food. This makes up about 10% of your TDEE. Foods like lean protein cost more calories to break down than processed foods like bread or pasta. 

EAT makes up about 5% of your TDEE. This is the calories burned while performing exercise. This includes running, biking, CrossFit, etc. 

Non-Resting Energy Expenditure (NREE) is the combination of NEAT, TEF, and EAT.

After learning about TDEE, we can think back to the statement, “In order for me to lose weight, I need to do more cardio.” While you can run more, and make a slight increase to your EAT, you will be better off focusing on trying to increase your NEAT and BMR.

Improve NEAT and BMR Without Extra Cardio

  • Have a daily step goal
    • If you currently only get 5,000 steps per day, make your goal 6,000. Once you nail that, you can increase it from there.
  • Take a walk after dinner with your family
    • This will help add to your step goal and sneak in some extra family time while you do it!
  • Stand more throughout the day
    • If you sit a lot for your job, take standing breaks. You could also invest in a standing desk so you have the option to stand while you work.
  • Start building muscle
    • Join a CrossFit gym (our personal favorite) where you will be in a supportive environment to work on improving your strength, cardio, and mobility.
  • If you are currently only running as your form of exercise, start implementing lifting weights (We do this!) to build more muscle mass.
  • Hire a personal trainer to help you with a strength training program. (We offer that too!)

Get Everything You Need in One Spot

There’s a lot of things to consider when it comes to nutrition, activity, and training in the gym. It’s taken us YEARS to figure it all out.

The good news is we’ve figured it all out for you!

At Modern Human CrossFit in Daytona Beach, Florida we will help you get the results you want and make positive lifestyle changes through safe, effective exercise, sound nutrition, and sustainable habits.

Our 60 minute group fitness classes cover all of your training needs with cardio, strength development, and body weight exercises. Our expert coaches will meet you where you are at with your nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise to help you create an active lifestyle full of adventure and energy!

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