Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, also referred to as NEAT, is not a new health and fitness fad, or a drastic lifestyle upheaval, it is the answer to a long-term, achievable healthy lifestyle. We have been told for many years to move more and to eat less. Essentially that is the concept of NEAT, but it isn’t a quick fix diet, and it doesn’t require you sweating it out at the gym at 6am every day. It does, however, require small lifestyle changes over the long term for gradual weight loss and health benefits.
What is NEAT?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is the calories you burn throughout everyday activities. But what does that mean? A calorie is the unit of energy that your body uses to function, and the use of calories can be split into three components:
- Basal Metabolic Rate: This is the number of calories that your body uses to survive. These calories power the brain, heart, liver, muscles and other organs that are required to continue working even while you sleep.
- Thermic Effect of Food: This is the calories that are required to digest the food you consume and turn it into energy. This is why you may have heard of ‘calorie free’ or ‘negative calorie’ foods, such as celery that use more calories in the digestion process than they actually contain.
- Thermic Effect of Physical Activity: This is the calories used in movement, and includes exercise such as running or cycling, but also the calories that you burn doing everyday activities such standing up or cleaning.
But, where does Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis fit into all of this? NEAT is the non-exercise component of the calories burnt through Thermic Effect of Physical Activity. So, while doing household chores, walking around your home or office, even brushing your teeth or standing up from sitting on the sofa you are burning calories. These calories amount to hundreds per day, and small changes to increase this number further can have a large impact on weight and health.
Understanding Calories and NEAT
It is well known that on average women need to eat 2000, and men 2500 calories per day. Approximately 60-75% of these calories are used for the basic bodily functions or Basal Metabolic Rate, 10% are used in food digestion and the remaining calories are used for physical activity, both NEAT and planned exercise.
Obviously, to increase calorie burn from physical activity you can schedule in a daily run, cycle, swim or gym session. However, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Whether you are too busy to exercise, hate the gym or simply are not motivated to get sweaty and workout you can increase your calorie burn through Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
One pound of weight is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories, so to lose a pound you need to burn 3500 calories more than you consume. This sounds like a lot, but to lose a pound a week that’s only 500 calories per day. So how can you do this without huge lifestyle changes?
NEAT Weight Loss
Applying the principles of Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis easily correlates to weight loss, and it is basically advice that we have all heard for years and years. Move more, eat less!
You are burning calories all day doing everyday activities, so make those activities count. Aiming for 10,000 steps a day isn’t a myth it really can help you lose a few pounds without the need for an intensive workout or any costly fitness equipment. Here are some ideas for increasing your NEAT calorie burn.
- Walk or cycle to work/school instead of driving or taking public transport
- Standing up regularly throughout the day – aim for a couple of minutes per hour
- Extra household chores – 30 minutes of vacuuming burns approximately 90 calories
- Take the stairs instead of the lift at the office, shopping centre or car park
- Play with the kids or walk the dog more
- Take an early morning or evening walk, great for mental health as well as calorie burn
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis Calorie Burning Ideas
Let’s get back to those 500 calories a day that you need to burn to lose a pound in weight per week. There is not even any need to burn all 500 calories, you could eat a little less to account for some of them. Here we will assume that you will eat 250 calories less and burn 250 calories more.
NEAT 250 Calorie’s
- At an average of 100 calories per mile you need to walk an extra 2.5miles to burn 250 calories, that’s walking for 40-50 minutes daily. Could you walk to work? School? The local shops? All of these activities count.
- Calorie burn can add up pretty quickly when it comes to household chores. In 45 minutes, an average person can burn 255 calories gardening, 230 calories washing the car or cleaning the windows, or 280 calories scrubbing the floor.
- Heading into the garden or the local park with the kids or your dog can also burn calories, keeping yourself as well as the kids/dog fit and active. An example would be playing hopscotch for an hour to burn an average of 210 calories.
250 Calorie’s Less Food
Nobody wants to diet, but most people eat more than they need to, and many of us don’t even consider where some of our calories come from. Do you stop off for a latte every day with a shot of caramel of vanilla syrup? In medium size, with semi-skimmed milk that’s 250 calories! Cutting out that one drink is all you need to do to make a big difference.
Alternatively, do you enjoy a mid-morning tea and biscuit break? There are 210 calories in 3 digestive biscuits. Or an afternoon chocolate break? With 240 calories in a 45g bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk, this is again a simple way to cut-out calories.
If you need your coffee, ask for skimmed milk and sugar free syrup to save a few calories, could some fruit replace your biscuits or chocolate bar? At mealtimes think about your portion sizes, could you eat a smaller portion of carbs and add vegetables to be just as full but cut the calories? Small changes really can make a big difference.
Think NEAT for Health and Weight Loss
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and feel motivated to make some small changes which will add up to big results over time. Look us up on social media and share the changes that you have made with us. If making small changes motivates you to try a little more planned exercise head over to Sports Fitness where you can find an array of clothing and equipment for all your exercise requirements.