Let's explore the magical world of metabolism! This can be an intimidating subject to a lot of gym go-ers, but let me assure you that you are completely capable of understanding how your body burns calories. Okay, before we get into the graph, let's get into terminology.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure = how many calories your body burns in a day. There's 4 main ways your body uses energy in the form of calories. Ready? Here we go.
By far the biggest energy sucker is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is how many calories your body needs to sustain life. Imagine waking up in the morning and just laying there for the next 24 hours breathing. Your BMR is how many calories it takes to do that...and it's a lot!
Next up, "thermic effect of food", or "TEF". This is how many calories your body uses in a day to digest food. The less processed your diet is, the harder it is for your body to break down foods. The harder it is for your body to break down food, the more energy in the form of calories is required to get the job done.
Third, calories burned during exercise. Enough said.
Lastly, and this is the one that needs all your attention, is "Non-exercise activity thermogenesis" or "NEAT". And lemme tell you, NEAT IS neat. NEAT encompasses all of your movement outside of your workout. Brushing your teeth, walking to the store, doing the dishes, walking to the bathroom. NEAT is often times very underutilized. In fact, it's totally possible for someone who has a very active job where they are constantly moving throughout the day (middle bar) to "out-calorie-burn" someone who spends an hour at 5 am doing a high intensity 6 mile run but sits for the rest of the 15 hours they are awake for the day (left bar).
My recommendation is to move for 6 minutes per hour that you are awake (on top of your workout if you are working out). Walk. Do the Macarena. Whatever. We have to recognize the fact that as an entire society, we're just not moving much these days. We sit and work into a screen (that's the bar on the far right, and unfortunately that's most of us). You don't have to be militant about moving, just be vigilant in keeping your NEAT up...it can make a huge difference!
I like to move it, move it.