Ever heard the acronym N-E-A-T? It stands for “Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis”. What does that mean? It’s the energy expended for everything you do that is not sleeping, eating, or exercise. NEAT is also part of the metabolic adaptation process. Even small physical activities increase metabolic rate significantly, and it is the cumulative impact of all of these movements that make up your daily NEAT.
Examples of NEAT
- mowing the lawn
- playing with the kids
- fidgeting (yes, it helps)
- standing (yes, even standing!)
How does NEAT impact your body?
Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that plays a critical role in converting fat into energy. Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can reduce levels of LPL. Therefore, using NEAT to move consistently throughout the day can help sustain LPL levels and help the body maintain its ability to burn fat, which is what we all want. Under-eating decreases your NEAT and over-eating increases your NEAT. When you don’t provide your body with the nutrients it needs, you feel sluggish and your desire to move decreases. When you over-eat you often feel the need to burn-off the excess food you have eaten. That’s why NEAT is a critical component in how we maintain our body weight.
How can you increase your NEAT?
Be mindful of the times during the day when you’re not at the gym, and strive to work in movement in any way you can. Getting in your daily steps of 10k-12k per day has a major impact on your metabolic rate and caloric expenditure. Here are some ideas:
- Park further away in the parking lot
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Replace your chair at work with a stability ball
- Invest in a standing desk
- Play outside with your kids
- Cook dinner instead of ordering take-out
- Take the dog for a walk
- Clean or tidy up around the house
- Organize your closet
- Ride your bike around the block with your kids
- Do some gardening
- Walk outside for lunch instead of eating at your desk
While seemingly small, making the effort to change your daily habits by adding more NEAT creates a foundation for maintaining or reducing your body weight. Movement. Movement. Movement. The more movement you get, the better your body feels! Now get up and get those steps in!