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Factors that Affect the Calories You Burn

Ricky Singh 25/06/21

When looking to lose weight, calorie counting is usually the first place to start. How calories work and what they do in the body is good knowledge to have and understanding the basics helps to have realistic expectations. 

At RS Fitness we tend to find that many of our clients can get a bit frustrated when they compare scores with each other but there are many reasons why you shouldn’t do this.

Using the analogy of a car, both a Range Rover Sport and Mini Cooper can travel 2 miles to a destination as standard, but each car will use a different amount of fuel (petrol) and in our case it’s calories. You can’t compare like with like it’s impossible as theses cars have 2 different engines and the same applies for humans. 

Calories are units of energy and it’s really important that we know the vital role they play within the body. It’s useful to know how they are stored and used in the body. 

1g of Fat = 9 cals 

1g of Alcohol = 7 cals 

1g of Protein = 4 cals 

1g of Carbohydrate = 4 cals 

So you would think eating more fat is better as fat gives more calories per gram but no, it doesn’t quite work that way.  In the most simplistic form, in order to burn fat as fuel you have to work out at a very low aerobic level, which is why too much fat in your diet isn’t ideal because we would have to do hours and hours of training to burn just fat for energy 

Calories in the body are not only burned during activity but we burn calories when sleeping, breathing, and even sitting requires energy. 

The main components are:

BMR (basal metabolic rate) 

This is the number of calories your body needs to function while at rest. Blood circulation and cell production all require calories 

Thermic Effect of Food 

Every time we eat we burn more calories for 4-8 hours after as we digest and take the nutrients from the food to different parts of the body. 


Physical activity requires energy to perform different movements and tasks the more vigorous the activity the more calories it will require. 

Here’s a question we get all the time. Why did I burn less calories then Mark or Sally we did the same class and same exercises? Because your body is different to the other persons, and burns at its own rate. 

A person with a lot more muscle mass and less body fat is going to burn more calories than someone who has a lower muscle mass and higher body fat. 

The person with more muscle burns more calories than the person with less muscle and more fat. Think more muscle

= bigger engine = more petrol (calories) used. 

Here are a list of the factors that are important:

Age: the older we get the slower our metabolism gets it’s rubbish I know but as we age our bodies need less energy. 

Gender: Males tend to have more muscle mass than females and therefore have a higher metabolism than females. 

Body Composition: Muscle requires around 3 x more the amount of energy than fat to function. Bigger muscles and bigger organs require more calories to function. 

Vitamin Levels, Calcium, iron and others as well as hormones and nervous controls can all either boost or slow down your metabolism. 

Sleep, Anxiety and Stress will all play a huge part in what’s going on inside the body lack of sleep along with high stress or anxiety will be like digging yourself a hole and trying to jump out of it. 

So it’s easy for me to say don’t compare your self to sally or Mark but it’s actually important you really don’t as you have a bit more knowledge about burning calories. 

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Personal training is carried out in the excellent facilities at The Sinclair Building, 18-20 Eagle Street, Port Dundas, Glasgow, G4 9XA.

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