How to increase your metabolism with NEAT
When it comes to weight loss, a lot of people focus on their diet and exercise regimen and when results don't follow, they often think it maybe their metabolism which is to blame. However, there is another factor that can play a big role in your success with your weight loss goals – NEAT. NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the energy used for everyday activities such as walking, talking and even fidgeting. NEAT can have a big impact on your overall calorie burn and can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful weight loss journey. In this post we are going to look at how you can use NEAT to increase your metabolism and aid in weight loss.
What is NEAT
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a term used to describe the energy that a body expends for everyday tasks, including walking, housekeeping, and gardening. It is separate from your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the energy you spend digesting food, and from , which refers to the minimal energy required for basic bodily functions like heart rate and respiration. NEAT can be thought of as the amount of extra energy burned above your RMR.
Does it make a difference if weight loss is your goal?
NEAT accounts for around 10-30% of your total calories you burn each day, which varies considerably between individuals. This study compared energy expenditure (calorie burn) between individuals. The participants had to stay in a metabolic chamber (see the photo below) to measure exactly how many calorie they burned for the whole time. What was fascinating was that even when they accounted for differences in muscle mass, there was still a big difference in how many calories they burned. This was down to their NEAT, or how much they fidgeted whilst in the room. This difference in calorie burn ranged from between 100 and 1000 calories between people, which is a lot! Highlighting, how NEAT can have a significant impact on your weight loss goals.
Dieting reduces NEAT
When trying to lose weight, many find that watching their diet is not always enough to see change. When you start dieting and drop your calories, a phenomenon called metabolic adaptation reduces the amount of calories you burn at rest and during activity. Studies show how this includes levels of NEAT. So even though you're sticking to your diet and exercising, you may end up burning less and less calories outside of the gym. This can effectively take you out of a calorie deficit, halting any weight loss efforts.
How can you counter the drop in NEAT?
Now you might be thinking 'he's going to tell me to hit 10,000 streps"? While this is a good goal to strive for, it doesn't have to be so arbitrary. Studies show that even fidgeting when sitting down can increase your calorie burn by 40 calories per hour, and further research shows how working and standing can increase calorie burn by around 100 calories per hour. This may not seem like much, however, if you stood for 3hrs a day, it would equate to 1800 calories over 5 days which is the equivalent of 1lb of weight loss per week. Even if you stood and moved for 1hr it would still have a significant impact on total energy expenditure.
The point being is that by becoming more aware of when and how you move, can be a powerful tool to help with your weight loss goals.
Tips to increase your NEAT
This is where you need to get creative. Here are some of the ways in which you can increase your metabolism with NEAT:
• Take regular breaks during work hours - such as walk around the office or take a few minutes to stretch
• Swap out your car for walking, cycling or taking public transportation
• Incorporate more chores into your daily routine - do the dishes, sweep, hoover or dust
• Incorporate incidental fitness activities like taking the stairs instead of lifts and escalators
• Schedule time for light yoga or stretching
Need more help?
If you've enjoyed this post and feel like you could benefit from some 1:2:1 help, then get in touch. Our Ignite programme combines metabolism testing with tailored coaching to gear you up for weight loss success. If this sounds like it would be something you'd be interested in, then find more about Ignite here.