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What is the secret weapon to weight loss?

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is a classification of physical activity that accounts for your total calories burned throughout the day. You may have heard of it before. The total amount of calories you burn is the calories out part of the weight loss equation; calories in vs calories out.

Other things that contribute to total calories burned throughout the day are resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories you need to stay alive), thermic effect of food (the amount of energy need to digest and absorb food), and EAT (exercise activity related thermogenesis).

NEAT however, refers to the following.

  • Fidgeting

  • Chores around the house

  • Playing with kids

  • Walking the dog

  • Walking and talking on the phone

  • Working at a standing desk or desk bicycle

NEAT can be thought of as any physical activity that is not pre planned, regimented, or structured, and is low fatiguing. So your, daily workout unfortunately, does not count towards NEAT. Since it is more regimented, pre-planned, more fatiguing and with the intention to drive a specific outcome. An hour weightlifting or cardio session is definitely going to help you in your weight loss journey. But the 200-500 calories you burn in that hour, is pretty easy to undo with a large meal, or a meal that you haven't portioned the right way.

Thus, if you are trying to stay in a caloric deficit of 200-500 calories, you may need to have another option that can keep you there.

NEAT is important for many reasons, and not just weight loss. For example, higher levels of NEAT is associated with better markers of health. Such markers as blood glucose, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Being sedentary for prolonged periods of time, for years and years, unfortunately, is not ideal for our health.

How can NEAT help with weight loss?

The short answer, is that it can provide us with more energy expenditure throughout the day, which can put us in a consistent caloric deficit so that we are burning more calories than we are taking in.

The best part about these NEAT activities, is that they are low impact and low intensity, so you can do them over and over for long durations without being fatigued.

Walking for an hour can provide anywhere from 150-500 calories depending on during, speed, bod weight, and incline you are walking on. So the when you are cruising down the grocery aisle you may double or even triple your energy expenditure. Thus, if you can can add more NEAT activities to your day, you are likely to burn an extra 150-500 calories each day. Which over the course of the week, equates to 1,500 to 3,500 extra calories burned per week!

It will be hard not to stay in a caloric deficit if you increase NEAT!

My favorite thing about NEAT activities are that you can plug them right into your daily life. For example, you can take the stairs more, you can park in the back of parking lot, spend a little extra time playing with your kids, walk the dog for an extra 10-15 minute, or do more chores around the house.

In order to see how much NEAT you are doing, I recommend start with keeping track of your steps. I am sure many of you have watches, phones, rings, and or other ways to track steps. A good target to shoot for is 10,000 steps per day. Which should put you around 150-800 extra burned calories, depending on body weight, speed, and incline that is.

NEAT can be a great tool to elevate your weight loss journey. It is easily applicable, it can maintain your calorie deficit with little fatigue, so you can do it day after day, and it has the ability to improve your chances at weight loss success and other areas of health.

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