Why you need to know about NEAT
Bear with me here... NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Simply put: it is all the movement we do that is not formal exercise like going to the gym. It is chewing, standing, walking, holding posture, typing, bouncing your leg, etc.
So why does NEAT matter?
NEAT can make up a large portion of our daily caloric burn, in fact for most people it accounts for 2-3x the calorie burn of your time in the gym! More importantly NEAT is one of the first places the body looks to conserve calories when you're trying to lose weight. You know the feeling. When you are on a diet, you may go to the gym and when you get home you just want to lay on the couch. Where before you may have cleaned the house or typed on the computer or cooked dinner. That is the body trying to burn less calories by making you want to move less.
In 1999 there was a study where people were provided food to eat exactly 1000 calories over their maintenance levels. Just as it does with eating less calories, the body adapts to overeating as well (side note: people with obesity tend to actually have FAST metabolisms, not slow ones). The results of this study were surprising!
-- Some people increased their daily burn via NEAT by 692 calories per day and only gained about 0.8 lbs of body fat through 8 weeks.
-- Some people actually decreased their daily burn via NEAT by 98 calories per day and gained about 9.3lbs of body fat in the same 8 weeks!
They all ate the same 1000 calories of extra food, but the difference is dramatic and was highly individual. The great news is we are in control of our NEAT if we are mindful about it!
We can park in the furthest spot, take the stairs, carry groceries in a basket instead of a cart, walk to work or the gym, bike places instead of driving, scrub the floor by hand instead of using a swiffer, stand instead of sit, sit instead of lie down, etc. These tiny changes can be the difference between weight loss and a plateau or gain. Pretty NEAT, huh? 🤓