A NEAT Way to Burn Extra Calories

By Charlotte Scott

It is possible to increase metabolism – and you don’t need to buy a thing. It’s possible through being “N.E.A.T.,” or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

take the stairs to burn extra calories

If you saw an advertisement for a product that guaranteed a 20 percent increase in your metabolism, would you buy it? I’m sure your answer would be “yes.” Well, according to Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Clinic, it is possible to increase the metabolism – and you don’t need to buy a thing. It’s possible through being “N.E.A.T.,” or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

What is N.E.A.T.

Thermogenesis means “fat-burning.” Therefore, N.E.A.T. is a fat or calorie-burning activity that is not related to structured exercise. It is the calories burned while participating in daily activities like washing the dishes by hand, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or getting off the couch to change the channel. The problem is that we live in an electronic age and machines do the work for us. As a society, we are less active and, thus, burn fewer calories.

A Little on Metabolism

The metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) your body burns to maintain itself. The metabolism is made up of three components. The first is the basal metabolic rate (BMR), second is the thermic effect of food (TEF), and lastly, the activity thermogenesis.

The BMR is the energy burned while lying down in a resting state. This is influenced by lean body mass. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you need. The BMR makes up over 60 percent of the metabolism. TEF is associated with the calories burned during digestion. It makes up 10-15 percent of the metabolism.

N.E.A.T. and Metabolism

There are two types of activity thermogenesis; exercise-related and non-exercise activity thermogenesis. These activities make up 15-50 percent of the metabolism. Exercise-activity thermogenesis includes structured activity like walking, jogging, biking and swimming. This type of exercise is important but Levine has proven through his studies that this type of thermogenesis is not as significant in calorie burning as the non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.).

For example, if a 5’4”-120 pound woman walks 30 minutes at a brisk pace, she may burn 150-200 calories. However, if in the course of her day she uses the stairs, plays with the kids, and walks the dog, she will burn a lot more than 200 calories.

How to be N.E.A.T. During Your Day

  1. Always take the stairs – avoid elevators and escalators.
  2. Park further away from your destination than usual.
  3. If you sit at a desk, get up every hour and walk around the office.
  4. Try to be active while watching TV, such as doing housework, walking in place, doing some leg lifts, stretches, or sit ups.
  5. Stand and let someone else have your seat when riding the bus or subway.
  6. Go out and walk, roller blade, or play pool (something active) instead of going out to dinner.
  7. Take “walking breaks” instead of coffee breaks at work in order to get your body moving during the day.
  8. If possible, ride your bike to work.
  9. Play with your kids
  10. Walk your dog instead of just letting him out to roam.
  11. Mow your lawn with a push mower.

This information can be helpful when trying to control weight, but remember: you can’t get away without regular structured exercise and with a poor diet. A healthy diet and exercise is the key. In conclusion, the more you move the more calories you burn. So after reading this article, please get up and take a short walk.

References: Levine, James. “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.” Mayo Clinic. 2010