Many Americans often have the goal to lose weight but may struggle when they are not seeing the results they want. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is an important consideration when the goal is to increase physical activity and lose weight. NEAT is defined as the energy we spend doing everything that is NOT sleeping, eating, or sport-like exercise. This might include walking to and from your desk at work, vacuuming the house, or even grocery shopping. NEAT is important for the maintenance of body weight and is specifically critical for gaining or losing weight. While purposeful dieting and exercise are important, NEAT can be used to help burn additional calories.
So how exactly can NEAT be used to lose weight? For starters, it is important to note that 1 pound of body fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. In other words, in order to lose a pound of fat, we would need to see a deficiency of 3500 calories to our overall expenditure. Increasing our NEAT by 200 calories per day (equal to walking 2 miles) and decreasing our calorie intake by 300 calories per day (equal to 12oz. soda or small bag of chips) will provide us with a daily deficit of 500 calories per day. If this is done over the course of a week, or 7 days, we will end with a deficit of 3500 calories, or 1 pound of fat lost for the week!
Increasing your NEAT can be a creative process for losing weight. Below are a few examples of NEAT:
Parking farther away from the grocery store or work. This provides an opportunity to get a few extra steps.
When the opportunity is there, take the stairs! Taking the stairs burns 7 times more energy than taking the elevator.
Standing versus sitting. Try standing during tv commercials. Over the course of a 60 minute TV show, that is about 15 minutes that you could be burning more calories by standing.
Have a pedometer? Aim to get 10,000 steps in a day.
Sitting on a stability ball. The constant action and bouncing burns more energy than sitting and also works on building muscles in your core.
The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, and goal setting. Additionally, we can provide support for increasing your NEAT, losing weight, and adhering to living a healthier life.
By Matt Lewandowski
Sources: 6 Things to Know About Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Pete McCall – American Council on Exercise – November 21, 2017.; Levine, J. (2002). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology, 16(4), 679-702.; 6 Reasons to Take the Stairs. Yasmine Ali – VerywellHealth– September 10, 2016.; Levine, J., Vander Weg, M., Hill, J., & Klesges, R. (2006). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis: The crouching tiger hidden dragon of societal weight gain. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 26, 729-736.