What is NEAT and Why Is It Important?

How to Burn More Calories Using NEAT

By now, most of us are aware that weight loss is for the most part a simple balancing act between calories in and calories out. To lose weight, we need to be in a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than you burn. This sounds straightforward, but it can be a daunting prospect when you consider that the average RDA of calories is around 2500 for men and 2000 for women. After all, how are we supposed to burn over 2000 calories a day?! 

Fortunately, our bodies burn a lot of calories naturally, because we burn calories whenever we use energy. And as we know, our bodies use energy for almost every single function and activity we perform, including sleeping, breathing and digesting food! 

Of course, movement also uses energy, and it’s the movement of our bodies when we exercise that we most commonly associate with calories and fat loss. However, all physical activity actually helps to burn calories. This is where NEAT comes in. Read on to discover how NEAT could be the simple secret to weight loss.  

What is it?

NEAT – or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – is all of the physical activity you do throughout the day that you wouldn’t typically class as exercise. In any normal day it could include:

  • Standing up 
  • Walking 
  • Cleaning 
  • Cooking 
  • Fidgeting 
  • Going up and down the stairs 
  • Carrying items 

All of these physical actions, however easy or short in duration, take energy to complete and therefore use calories. 

Why is NEAT important?

If you’re interested in losing or maintaining your weight, NEAT is important because it can help you to burn additional calories. You won’t burn hundreds in one half-hour session as you might with a run or a HIIT class, but a few calories here and there can soon add up. 

For example, according to one Harvard University study, the average person can burn anything between 120 to 222 calories in just 30 minutes of walking, depending on the person’s weight and the speed of their walk. This may not seem like a huge amount on its own, but over the course of a week this is anything between 840 to 1554 calories burned.

If you’re looking to maintain your weight, this could mean you can enjoy that weekend takeaway or daily chocolatey treat guilt-free. Or, if you’re looking to lose weight, you can combine this additional activity with a healthy diet to reach your calorie deficit. 

Another reason why NEAT is so important is because of an enzyme called Lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL plays a vital role in helping your body to convert fat to energy, and research shows that too being too sedentary can affect LPL levels. Therefore, moving more often throughout the day can keep LPL levels stable and help your body burn fat more effectively. 

Finally, one of the reasons that NEAT is so important for your fitness journey is that you don’t really realise you’re doing it. We all know how difficult it can be to stay motivated and focused in the gym, and so anything you can do to improve your health and fitness without feeling like you’re pushing too hard can only be a good thing. 

How to add more NEAT to your day. 

So, it’s an easy way to burn calories, lose weight and stay in shape. But how can you ensure you’re packing enough NEAT activity into your day? Here are some simple tips you can follow to increase your low-effort physical movement.

  1. Ditch the car

If you have a short journey to make, consider walking or cycling there rather than hopping in your car or catching the bus. Not only will this increase your NEAT activity for the day, but it’s also kinder to the environment. It could even save you money on petrol or bus fare! 

  1. Get friends involved

Often when we catch up with friends or family we do so over dinner, or a drink in the pub. To add more movement to your day – and avoid the calories associated with that alcoholic beverage – you could suggest getting together for a dog walk or shopping trip. Remember to pack your CBD-infused sports drink to keep you hydrated!

  1. Run more errands

Speaking of shopping, popping to the local shop could be a good habit to get into. While we often tend to save errands such as trips to the post office or local supermarket for one dedicated morning when we’re out in the car, adding some of these little jobs to your day-to-day routine are a great way to get your steps up. As more and more of us are working from home, it’s a much better use of your lunch break than sitting in front of the TV. 

  1. Get off your feet

Did you know that even standing still uses more energy than sitting down? Make an effort to stay on your feet for longer during the day, whether it’s at a stand-up desk or simply while you wait for your dinner to cook. 

  1. Keep it tidy

If household chores are something you usually pass onto your partner or kids, you could be missing out on some easy NEAT activities. Hoovering, dusting, carrying laundry and even just simply moving through the house tidying things away will all keep you active. Get into the habit of doing more little jobs each day. 

  1. Choose the active option

Each day we’re presented with choices that give us the chance to add more NEAT without even realising it. Whether it’s taking the stairs over the lift, carrying a basket rather than pushing a trolley or getting off the bus one stop early, learn to look out for small tweaks you can make that will get you moving more. 

  1. Start tracking yourself

Many people find that fitness trackers or smart watches help them increase their NEAT. Many of these devices have pedometers built in and signals that will remind you throughout the day if you’re not close to hitting your step target. Some will also have features that can prompt you to stand or move around once an hour, which can be a great reminder when you’re busy with work. 

While making the conscious effort to add more NEAT activity to your daily routine may seem tricky at first, these small changes will soon become a habit. The more that you get used to being active, the easier your workouts will also seem in time. For more advice on healthy eating and exercise, take a look at our Blog

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