This article discusses how you can use Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis to help you win the battle of the bulge.
For those unfamiliar with it, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, is the term given to the process of burning calories in day-to-day life, not including sleeping, eating, or intentional exercise.
It’s common knowledge that weight gain will result when our daily food intake exceeds the number of calories we burn. And if we take in fewer calories than we burn, we will lose weight.
But did you know that everything you do burns calories? This includes simple things such as standing from a seated position, tapping away on a computer keyboard, and walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
With all of the time and labor-saving devices on offer in developed countries, we burn fewer calories than ever before.
These days, NEAT accounts for approximately 30% of the “average” person’s calorie burn. For very active individuals, this can increase to around 50%. For those who are very sedentary, this can drop to 15%.
Research has shown that, not including exercise, lean people are generally more physically active by around two and a half hours each day compared to those carrying excess weight.
That one hundred and fifty minutes equates to approximately 350 calories. With 3,500 calories equal to 1 pound of body fat, active individuals may burn this over ten days without playing a sport or working out.
These are estimates, and other factors come into play, such as the individual having a higher than average metabolism or a genetic predisposition to being slim. Regardless, it’s clear that active people burn more calories than those who sit or lie on their couch in front of the television or spend hours each day on their laptops.
To find out more about how to use NEAT for weight loss, please keep reading.
Diet, Exercise, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and Weight Loss
While Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can help you lose weight, you will still need to cut calories if you have a lot of weight to lose. As well as eating less, for better health all around, you should also improve your diet.
A healthy diet can help you to avoid nutritional deficiencies that can lead to medical problems. It can lower your cholesterol level, which can protect against cardiovascular disease. It can lower or stabilize high blood pressure and so reduce your risk for stroke attacks. Healthy eating can also decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Studies have shown that cutting our daily calorie intake by 30% or more can hinder weight loss. This is because a calorie reduction of that magnitude dramatically decreases the likelihood of sticking to the diet long-term.
A 20% reduction of calories is easier to maintain, and this is where NEAT for weight loss can help boost calorie burn and make up some of the difference.
NEAT alone can be enough for some people to reach their goal weight. However, it is still important to exercise.
The benefits of cardio exercise include a stronger heart, better endurance, improved flexibility, and reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Regular aerobic activity may also protect against some cancers, and it can reduce or manage stress levels and improve mental health in general.
Weight-bearing exercise or resistance training strengthens bones, and it also helps to build and tone muscles.
Stronger bones and muscles are vital to keeping fit and healthy as we age.
Strong bones can help prevent breaks in seniors who suffer a fall and provide protection against osteoporosis.
Toned muscles are not only esthetically pleasing; they also make us stronger and improve our functional fitness.
We start losing muscle mass from the age of 30. By the time we are 70, females can lose up to 23% of their muscle mass, and males up to 22%. Using light dumbbells or fitness bands can help to counteract this. And with extra muscle, your metabolism will be more efficient, so you will burn more calories even when you are inactive.
NEAT Plan for Burning More Calories
When looking to boost your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis level, you should first note everything you do in a typical day. For example – I got up at 7 am, had breakfast, then got ready for work. Commuted to the office from 8.30 to 9 am, etc. List your activities from when you get up to when you go to bed.
Standing burns more calories than sitting, and sitting burns more calories than lying down.
An individual weighing 145 lbs burns approximately 102 calories per hour doing office work while seated. Performing the same tasks while standing, they will burn around 174 calories an hour. The difference may not seem significant, but it can be appreciable over time, particularly when combined with dietary modifications and regular cardio exercise.
Pay attention to how much of the day you are seated, and consider if you can safely and comfortably do the same tasks while standing. Better still, do them while moving, if you can. This will be a little trickier if you are typing, but you should have no problem pacing while talking on the phone.
List ways you can use NEAT to burn more calories (see my suggestions list below). If you really dislike some of the changes you make or find them impractical, move on to the next one.
20 Easy Ways to Incorporate NEAT into Your Day
The following are just some of many easy ways to activate Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis:
- If your commute to and from work involves catching public transport, walk or cycle part of the way.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift.
- If you have a desk job, replace your chair with a stability ball to burn up to 100 extra calories a day.
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk rather than phone or email them.
- Instead of meeting friends for coffee and cake, catch up for a walk in the park.
- Take your dog for longer walks – if you don’t have a dog, ask to take your neighbors’.
- Play ball with your kids or partner.
- Put more effort in when doing housework.
- When watching the TV, get up and move every time there’s an ad break.
- Use an under desk cycle while watching the television or surfing the net, and you can burn up to 100 calories an hour.
- Pull weeds, rake leaves, dig holes, and plant flowers or bushes in your garden.
- Stand or pace while talking on the phone.
- When visiting the mall, park in the farthest car park.
- When walking, if possible, take the longest route to your destination.
- Carry your groceries around the supermarket in a basket rather than push a shopping cart.
- Wash your car by hand instead of driving it through the carwash.
- Walk or cycle to your local shops rather than drive.
- Hang wet clothes on the clothesline instead of putting them in the dryer.
- Put on your favorite music and “dance like nobody’s watching.”
- Get active in the bedroom!
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis Summary
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can help you to lose weight faster. As little as 100 calories a day add up to 10 1/2 pounds over a year.
Look for ways to integrate standing and moving more into your regular daily activities, and you could easily burn an extra 100 calories a day. And 100 calories is just the starting point! Some people may burn two or three times that or more, which is significant.
For the best result, modify your diet and continue with or start a fitness regimen.
Walking is amongst the easiest and most accessible forms of exercise. It offers cardio benefits, burns a good number of calories, and can be done by just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level.
One study centered around Amish Adult males found they walk approximately 18,425 steps per day, while the average American man walks about 5,000 steps each day. The obesity rate amongst the Amish is about 4% compared to 30% amongst other Americans.
So don’t just consider your workout sessions when it comes to losing weight. Take your overall lifestyle into account and look for ways to increase your daily NEAT calorie burn.
Be consistent, and you will lose weight faster and find it easier to maintain your weight loss.