A nightmare for most people out there, weight loss is a major concern that leads to intense workouts and diet control. Though workouts play a key role in burning fat and toning one’s body, it is not always about rigorous exercise or spending hours in the gym. There are other activates that help lose weight and are much easier.
Eric Bowling, a NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance, who has a huge clientele she helps losing weight, stresses on the need to incorporate NEAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis into any weight-loss program.
“NEAT is a huge part of the weight-loss puzzle that many people overlook,” he shared with Popsugar. “Your hour in the gym will only contribute so much to your daily energy expenditure; it’s what you do in the other 23 hours of your day that have a much bigger impact on your overall energy expenditure.”
What is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) refers to any activity that one does throughout the day excluding formal exercise and sleep. “NEAT includes any daily activity outside of the gym, from walking the dog or carrying the groceries home, to gardening or playing with your children,” explains Eric.
For those who have sedentary lives where they drive to work, sit at a desk for eight or so hours per day, drive home and then spend their evening on the couch watching TV, their energy expenditure is bound to be pretty low. This can result in weight gain. “The difference in energy expenditure between someone who is active all day and someone who is sedentary can run into hundreds and hundreds of calories,” adds Eric. “Some estimates put the variation as high as 2,000 calories.”
Nonetheless, if people with sedentary lifestyles make an effort to walk to work or park their car further away, busy themselves with chores or play with their kids, they are more likely to have higher energy expenditure and thus, a higher calorie burn.
How can NEAT help you lose weight?
Though metabolism, food, fitness and other factors affecting one’s lifestyle play a key role in the process of weight loss, it is actually quite simple: An energy balance. To lose weight, one must expend more energy than they take in, or say, burning more calories than they take in.
Eric elaborates, “You can put yourself into a negative energy balance by either reducing the amount of calories you are consuming or increasing your activity levels, or a combination of both. Boosting your daily activity levels with NEAT can play a huge role in helping you lose weight and maintain your weight loss.”
How much NEAT should you aim for in a day?
An easy way to increase one’s NEAT throughout the day is getting in more steps. It is suggested to track with a pedometer, FitBit, Apple Watch, or a free app on their smart phone. Eric recommends aiming for 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day for weight loss. If you’re just starting out, aim for 6,000 steps a day and work your way up to more.
Eric also states that if one is associated with an active occupation such as personal training, construction or hospitability, they are probably getting enough NEAT during their work day. But others need to get in extra steps and increase their day-to-day activity. One can also start their day with a quick bodyweight circuit or go for a walk post dinner. Other activities such as raking leaves, vacuuming, playing with kids, going bowling, etc. can be helpful too.