Managing Your Weight With NEAT: What is Non-Activity Thermogenesis?


What Is NEAT?

Your body is a lot like your bank account, except instead of dollars, it uses calories as its currency. And instead of earning money through working and spending money on Uber Eats, your body earns calories through eating and spends calories by living

The “spending” part can be thought of almost exactly like your household budget, but instead of the categories being rent, utilities, food, and insurance, your body’s budget for spending calories looks like this:

Basic life support fundings (basal metabolic rate)

The cost of digesting your food (thermic effect of food)

Exercising (exercise activity thermogenesis)

Activity of daily life (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis)

Now if we decode all of those into their popular acronyms we get BMR, TEF, EAT, and… drumroll… NEAT. 

So NEAT is simply just the calories that your body spends doing the activities of daily life. 

In addition to these, we have TDEE, which stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. TDEE encompasses all these components, including BMR, TEF, EAT, and NEAT, to provide a comprehensive estimate of the calories your body burns in a day.

What are some examples of NEAT activity?

NEAT includes things like walking around the house or the store, doing the dishes, fidgeting, going up and down the stairs, cleaning the house, manual labor, or anything else that requires your body to move without it being structured exercise.

Now, you might be thinking, why would how much I randomly move around during the day matter? 

That is an excellent question, so let’s dive into it!

What Are The Benefits of Increasing NEAT?

You might think that NEAT sounds unimportant or uninteresting, but it turns out that it is actually one of the most important parts of our overall metabolism when it comes to weight loss, weight management, metabolic health, and overall health. And… NEAT levels are probably the most variable aspect of our overall metabolism. 

In fact, NEAT levels can vary between two very similar people by upwards of 2,000 calories per day! That difference represents almost 150% of most people’s BMR. 

NEAT and Weight Gain

Not only can non-exercise activity thermogenesis levels vary substantially from person to person, it turns out that it is actually one of the most effective ways to help individuals prevent weight gain and increase weight loss.

In fact, if you follow adults and see who gains weight during their lives, their NEAT levels determine whether or not they gained weight, and how much weight and body fat they gain, whereas a person’s basal metabolic rate didn’t have any relation to change in body weight.

Affect of BMR and activity on weight gain

Insulin Sensitivity

Weight management is only one of the superpowers that NEAT has. One of its other superpowers is the fact that when you have higher NEAT your body has a more robust metabolism and it can help reduce and/or prevent insulin resistance by making your body more insulin sensitive. 

NEAT Score on Insulin

How Can I Increase My NEAT

Introducing NEAT to your daily routine is actually one of the simplest things you can do and it often doesn’t require any major interventions. In fact, just a few small changes to your life can dramatically increase it. Here are 10 tips for how to increase your NEAT exercise:

  1. Take a 20-30 minute walk every day.
  2. Park as far away as you can from any store when you run errands.
  3. Take walking meetings whenever possible.
  4. Use a standing desk.
  5. Utilize a walking pad underneath your standing desk.
  6. Mow your own lawn instead of paying for a lawn service.
  7. Commute via bicycle if possible. 
  8. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  9. Use the bathroom on a different floor or at the opposite end of the floor at work. 
  10. Pace when talking on the phone.

Wrap Up

Your NEAT is one of the most powerful tools you have in your tools box for weight loss, weight maintenance and improving your health. Unfortunately it is also one of the most overlooked and underappreciated tools.  Prioritizing your NEAT can accelerate your results and change your life, so start prioritizing it!

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