How do we lose calories? The most simple answer would be to move more. Most of us already know that to lose weight we have to have a negative energy balance. This requires burning more calories than we consume. This is also often referred to is as eating in a caloric deficit. Understanding the negative energy balance or the calorie deficit is one of the biggest fundamental factors of fat loss/weight loss. Energy expenditure has to be greater than energy intake in order for us to lose weight.
Now, where energy expenditure is concerned, you can diet by reducing your caloric intake to ensure that you’re eating below your maintenance level. You can also increase your energy expenditure which will bring up your maintenance calories due to the increased activity. People often rely on the latter as most people prefer to do more exercise rather than decreasing their caloric intake dramatically. For anyone, reducing our caloric intake by a significant amount is not the most enjoyable thing. We then often adopt the mindset of working out relatively early in the day, so we can slump back on the couch, satisfied with the energy we have exerted for the day. We then expect the number on the scales to decrease almost instantly the next day. However, it’s very likely we don’t see that happen. You see, if we adhere to that kind of pattern, we allow ourselves to miss one of the biggest pieces of the weight loss puzzle. That piece is NEAT.
WHAT IS NEAT?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) refers to the energy we exert throughout the day when we’re not sleeping or exercising. This can be walking up the stairs, standing rather than sitting, even fidgeting at our desks. They all burn more calories than we think. Most of us when we begin our weight loss journeys, we primarily focus on Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT). This is the energy we expend from exercise that we intentionally engage in. It’s perfectly understandable that this is our main focus but, we tend to completely forget about NEAT and the number of calories it can burn.
Whatever our profession is and whatever our career entails has a significant effect on our NEAT. Jobs that require more manual labour and simply being on our feet a bit more have significantly higher levels of NEAT than someone who sits at a desk for work. For those of us who do sit at a desk for the majority of our days, we can have extremely low levels of NEAT. The difference in calories between sedentary and active jobs can amount up to hundreds and hundreds of calories. However, even if we do work in this kind of job, there are quite a lot of ways we can increase our NEAT levels. You can do so either by working in some NEAT throughout the workday or upping leisure NEAT, the thermogenesis resulting from how you spend your spare time. Unfortunately, most of us don’t try to do so. We consistently and completely overlook NEAT.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT NEAT?
You might think that going to the gym makes up for the 8-12 hours you spend sitting at your desk every day. You don’t have to take the stairs or leave your house to pick up dinner rather than ordering in because you’ve already spent an hour on the treadmill. We probably don’t realise that the calories burned with the accumulation of all of those small activities would significantly add to the calories you burned on the treadmill. Although the best way to burn calories fast is through an intensive session, we can still burn calories by simply being more active. That’s why we should never underestimate how much calories we can burn from simple day-to-day activities. Too much of a sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to our health. Some people may struggle to out-exercise a sedentary lifestyle. No matter how many times a week you make it to the gym, it will not make up for being seated for the remainder of your waking hours. This is because we can’t just be active in the gym. We have to also adopt an active lifestyle.
So, how do we burn more calories using NEAT?
TIPS ON HOW TO BURN MORE CALORIES
SIMPLY TAKE THE STAIRS TO BURN MORE CALORIES
INCREASE YOUR DAILY STEPS TO BURN MORE CALORIES
TRY A STANDING DESK
Ultimately, we should just aim to increase our activity levels throughout the day. NEAT is a great way to burn more calories and it requires a lot less effort than its more famous counterpart, EAT. Weight loss will never coincide with an inactive lifestyle. Change your approach to activity levels and you will burn more calories, lose more weight, and ultimately change your lifestyle for the better.