How to Make Fat Burning NEAT for the Busy Lifestyle
There is not an easy way around fat burning. What is even more problematic is for those that have busy lifestyles that don’t allow for as much gym time as others. We all can get frustrated when we are lowering food intake and exercising more but then weight loss seems to slow down.
What is the deal with weight loss stalls?
Well really, stalls are pretty rare. When we diet some metabolic adaptation occurs and slows down our metabolism but really this is only 100-200 calories per day. The one variable many are not accounting for is Non-Exercise Energy Thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is all your daily activity that is not from direct exercise. This is standing vs sitting or walking around the office.
NEAT can impact your daily energy expenditure by up to 2000 calories in some individuals. Think about the difference in calorie expenditure if you dug holes all day or sat at a computer desk. So, now think about that weight loss stall. What happens to many is when we lower calories and increase exercise we make up the calorie deficit by moving less. You do that hard workout and then flop onto the couch right after.
Leaving Easy Fat Burning on the Table
NEAT is your easy fat burning tool. Light activity can be enjoyable and it is not very fatiguing. Just moving around more makes a diet “easier”. This also is the idea of high energy flux meaning the same calorie deficit on high food and high activity over low food and low activity. This has the benefit of keeping hunger lower, keeping your workouts more effective, improving your diet adherence, and having greater diet flexibility.
Differences in Occupational NEAT Calories Burned
- Chair bound- 300 cal per day
- Seated work- 700 Cals per day
- Seated work yet able to move and need to move through day- 1000 Cals per day
- Standing work eg- shop assistant- 1400 cal per day
- Strenuous work like manual labor- 2300 cal a day
How Can You Track NEAT
Step tracking can be a great proxy for total NEAT. With a step tracker, I can get a baseline for how many steps I am taking a day outside of direct exercise. I can then work to increase my steps in order to not have to reduce food or do more direct cardio.
Roughly every 2000 steps you take is ~1 mile and depending on body weight can be 70-130kcal extra per day. This might be the difference between eating an extra bowl of oatmeal on your diet or not.
Easy Ways to Increase NEAT
- Park in the back of the parking lot and walk
- Take the stairs over to the elevator
- Walk to work or other shops and stores
- Using a standing desk can burn an extra 400 kcal per day
- Take a walk during your lunch break
- Post-meal walks- BG lowering benefits from this
- Get a dog and walk it
- Take a lap around the gym instead of sitting on your phone in between sets
- Transitioning to a treadmill desk at just 1 mph was shown to increase energy expenditure by 119 calories per hour
- Taking a 5-minute walk break every hour at work can increase energy expenditure by 16.5 calories an hour, 132 calories over an 8-hour workday, and 660 if done for a full work week
Dieting and making fat loss happen is hard enough, so use NEAT as a trick of the trade to make the diet less burdensome and get fat burning with less effort.