3 Often Overlooked Nutrition Basics

3 Often Overlooked Nutrition Basics

To me, nutrition isn’t just about feeling better but a tool we can all use to gain an unfair advantage over our lives.  If we are fueled well, we have energy.  If we are fueled well, we sleep soundly.  If we are fueled well, our hormones are happy.  If we are fueled well, we are available to conquer goals, hobbies, and enjoy the short time we have here on Earth. 

I could care less about living longer.  What I care about is living well.  I saw my dad suffer for the last 8 years of his life that I feel could have been prevented.  No thanks.   

The biggest issue with nutrition is that there is so much fear and emotion around what people eat, when people eat, and how people eat.  When I look at those emotions, it's often because people are stuck on minor details that wouldn't really matter if they hadn't skipped over these 3 basics.


You might actually be familiar with this term as the diet world will use this as your max threshold of calories consumed.  “You have to stay under your BMR to lose weight” is a mantra you will often hear.  

Maybe that’s why the word “die” is the majority of the word "diet."  You're just going to die prematurely...with less weight.  Congratulations. 

BMR is the amount of energy (calories) spent by an individual at rest, while awake, lying down, usually 10-12 hours after a person’s last meal.  BMR reflects the minimum energy NEEDED for the work of vital functions like the maintenance of electrolyte balance, cell and protein metabolism, breathing, cardiovascular function and circulation, etc.  

In other words, if you’re in a vegetative state, BMR is the amount of calories you need to keep you responsive.  Eating at, or below, your BMR may allow you to lose weight, but it will most likely come at the expense of your energy, hormones, and cognitive function.


TDEE is the amount of energy (calories) you use in your daily life, doing life.  The difference here is that TDEE takes into account your current life demands.  BMR is you, flat on your back, doing nothing.  Shoot me now.  TDEE is about life domination. 

There are 4 factors to quantify your TDEE.

1. BMR - This will account for about 70% of your calorie intake.  Most "experts" have been using this as their 100-120% goal for calorie intake to “lose weight.”  Stop that madness right now.

2. TEF (Thermal Effect of Food).  This means the amount of calories you burn while consuming calories.  You’ve heard of meat sweats?  That’s because it takes a lot of energy to digest protein.  This doesn't mean it’s bad and that protein shouldn’t be consumed like the mainstream narrative.  TEF can account for 10% of your daily energy expenditure.

3. NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).  These are all the calories you need to perform your daily activities.  You’re racing around the house folding laundry and packing the kid’s lunches.  These are the mentally intense meetings at work that could have just been an email.  These are the steps you take pacing the sideline at your son’s soccer game while they head into penalty shots. This is the energy needed to push your cart at Costco and then carry your toddler to the car after his legs “stopped working” because the samples were all gone. NEAT can account for 15% of your daily energy expenditure.

4. EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).  Is it a little ironic that the acronym for exercise is EAT, or is it the most wonderful thing ever?   This is your planned exercise and movement efforts.  The reality is that your exercise routine only accounts for roughly 5% of your daily energy expenditure.  Your cardio machine or your activity tracker on your wrist or phone really aren’t that accurate and are probably giving you too much credit when you are doing cardio and not enough credit when you’re doing weight lifting.  Take the “calories burned” on those devices with a grain of salt.  And you know how much I love salt.

If BMR is the bare minimum calorie intake to stay sedated, then how much do you need to consume to achieve your goals?  Use the TDEE calculator to see the amount that's recommended as opposed to what you're probably consuming.  Warning, you'll be a little shocked.


Macros are often met with mental resistance.  There are camps that look on carbs as evil.  There are camps that look at fats as evil.  There are camps that look at protein as evil.  For you to be successful with nutrition, it's best to keep your emotions out of the equation when it comes to macronutrients.

Macros are just the category of nutrients that include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  These macronutrients are then broken down into usable building blocks, in addition to your micronutrients being liberated from the macronutrients.   

Carbs are broken down into glucose.  Proteins are broken down into amino acids.  Fats are broken down into fatty acids.  Carbs are primarily a fuel source.  Fats are both a fuel source in addition to building blocks of things like hormones and cell structures.  Proteins are primarily building blocks of EVERYTHING in your body but can be used as a fuel source in dire situations. 

The goal is to be able to use all 3 very efficiently and use them for your specific goal.  That goal could be to lose fat.  That goal could be to gain muscle.  That goal could be to maintain your weight but make sure you have enough energy to achieve your life goals.  

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