Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. What a mouthful. From here on, referred to as NEAT.
NEAT is all the stuff you do outside of the gym that still burns calories. Doing the laundry? That’s pretty NEAT. (I’m sorry.) Walking the dog? NEAT. The list goes on, but basically any movement can be considered NEAT.
Does NEAT help with fat loss though?
Absolutely. The more ya move, the more calories you burn.
Fat loss is all about energy balance.
ENERGY (calories) IN (consumed) < ENERGY (calories) OUT (burned) = fat loss
Incorporating more NEAT is just another way to tip the scales more in the favor of ENERGY OUT.
Why Fat Loss Stalls
In my work as a personal trainer, I’ve actually found that setting a daily NEAT goal is key to helping clients lose fat.
You see, your body really doesn’t want to lose fat. So when you go into a calorie deficit, your body has a few tricks to help hold onto fat.
Basal metabolic rate drops. Your metabolism slows, the body burns fewer calories.
This is a topic for another blog. For more on how to diet correctly:
Your body actually restricts the amount of energy you expend through NEAT. Without even being aware of it, you start moving a lot less. Fewer subconscious “fidgeting” type movements. Less NEAT.
This is why fat loss often stalls, even though it seems like you’re doing everything right.
This is where a daily NEAT goal comes in handy. Forcing yourself to move more than you would regularly helps counteract the subconscious reduction in movement you experience when dieting.
How Much NEAT Should You Do?
A great way to estimate NEAT is by setting a step goal. Get an activity tracker like Apple Watch or Fitbit. Or just use an app on your phone.
If you don’t move a lot, a good place to start is by setting a goal in the 6,000-8,000 steps per day range. You want your step goal to be something that’s doable, but definitely makes you move more than normal.
Eventually ramping up to the 10,000-12,000 steps/day range is manageable for most.
Definitely focus on NEAT if you’re trying to lose body fat. It’s key to making consistent progress.