10 Easy Ways to Increase Your NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis)

Spring has just begun which means Summer is right around the corner. This means it is time to start shedding those extra pounds. Many of us commonly believe that losing those extra pounds means extra work in the gym and in the kitchen. In reality, one of the best ways to lose those those extra pounds for good and keep it off is to make daily habit changes that can help burn those extra calories during activities you would normally do regardless. What I am talking about is increasing your NEAT. What is NEAT? It is Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It is the activity that you are able to add into your daily routine outside of the gym that can help you in the long run. It can help you lose those ten pounds not this month, but over the next 12 months. In the grand scheme of things, would you not want to be ten pounds lighter come next year? Now it is time for me to show you how.

For a moment, imagine for me that you we are back before you started going to the gym. Imagine you were slowly gaining about a pound every two to three months. After 3 years of not exercising or working out you realized you are 10 pound heavier. All your clothes feel a little tighter and you just do not feel good in your own skin like how you used to. One day climbing up a flight of stairs you become way too easily winded, and not just that, but your knees are hurting. For some people, this is all too real. That was the wake up call to go to the gym to start exercising. Yet, why do you exercise when you gain weight? The reason is because you were taught that when you begin exercising, you begin to lose the weight you previously put on. The reason for the weight loss is because you have started to burn more calories compared to what you have consumed through your diet. When it comes to fat loss, you want to have a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day so that about after a week you will be 3500 calories short. Your body is naturally programmed then to pull those  calories of energy out of your stored fat. One pound of fat is roughly equal to 3500  calories. So when you burn those calories at the gym and create that calorie deficit you are burning through that stored fat. Another way you can create a calorie deficit is by changing up your diet. If you reduce the calories you eat by a small margin to create a 500 calories deficit then the same result will happen of burning a pound of stored body fat for every 3500 calories you did not eat that you may normally would have. Now finally for NEAT to come into play. We are going through your normal daily life but now you add some extra Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. You add some daily habits that helped you burn extra calories throughout your day. These extra calories that you burn add to your total daily energy expenditure which means that instead of those calories you were eating becoming stored as fat, you burned those calories, without even stepping into a gym. That is the power of NEAT.

Sadly, most individuals do not know of the power of NEAT so most people do gain those ten pounds. Still, NEAT can help you lose that weight gained. Let’s say now that you know the power of NEAT you want to incorporate it as part of your daily life and habits with that a positive change of dietary habits and a new exercise program. So let us say you are at the gym going three times a week and hike once a week burning a total of 2500 calories at the end of the week. With that you are improving your eating habits and diet and that has created an additional 2000 calories deficit at the end of the week. So so far a nice sum total of 4500 calories burned in just a single week. Now with a little magical NEAT you add just 100 calories a day of extra activity into your life and therefore an extra 700 calories that you burned in one week! So now you have 5200 calories a week burned between your diet, exercise, and nonexercise activity. Now over a course of a month you have 28,000 calories burned. Over three months time you have 84,000 calories. If you were to burn and have a  calories deficit of 84,000 calories that is a sum total of 24 pounds lost! Now if you did not include NEAT into that math you would have lost 21.6 pounds. Still a great amount lost, but after a year you are missing out on those extra 10 pounds you could have lost by barely making a change.

Here are 10 examples of NEAT to help you lose weight:

    Walking is an easy activity nearly every one of us can accomplish. All we have to do is increase the number of steps we walk everyday and over time the extra energy used comes from our stores fat. It is also fairly simple to increase the number of steps you walk throughout the day. You can park your car down the street from your house. You can park at the farthest spot when shopping. You can go for an easy morning walk while you sip your morning cup of Joe. All the steps will add up over time.
    Most of us cook at least one meal throughout the day. During this time you can add in some simple movements. When I cook, I like to squat deep when I grab a pan out of the cabinet. When I’m reaching for the spices on the shelf I throw in a push-up. When I’m waiting for the vegetables to steam I simply bounce or fidget in place while reading or going on social media. The point is while I’m coming I am not standing still. For those times I’m eating out, I will fidget in line by bouncing on one foot for a bit then switch it up. Sometimes I’ll squat while waiting for my coffee. Again, the point is I keep moving.
    I watch TV. I would even be lying to you if I said I hardly watch TV. I would be lying to you if I said I sit or lay down and watch TV. When watching my programs or sports on TV I am stretching. I lay down and stretch out my muscles. I’ll use the couch as a steady surface to stretch my back out, my shoulders out, my legs out. I never just sit down and watch TV. I stretch and stay active and honestly it is one of the best habits I have created. It has helped me stay loose and I no longer feel guilty about watching TV. It is a win win.
  4. Morning Routine:
    Everyone has a morning routine that they go through during their work week. This is an easy time to add some extra movement to your day. The moment you get out of bed, do some push-ups. You do not even have to define a specific amount. Just drop down and give me however many you feel like. When you go to start the coffee pot, I want you to give me some jumping jacks. The moment you go and brush your teeth, give me some squats before you start or maybe even while you are brushing your teeth if you feel like really multitasking. Going out to get the morning paper, I want a burpee when you get to that paper. Just add in some simple movements or tasks that are associated with every stop along your morning routine.
  5. Evening Routine
    Same concept of your morning routine except I want you to do more stretching and more of a yoga pose idea with it. When you are going around the house shutting off the lights, take a deep breath and reach up and then down towards your toes. Locking the doors, I want a nice deep lunge stretch to help loosen up those hip flexors. Do simple more relaxing movements. Not only will these little movements help burn those extra calories, they are going to help mentally and physically relax you before you sleep.
  6. Your Car
    Most people are getting in and out of their car at least once a day. Every time you are getting into your car, add some movement. You can do jumping jacks, lunges, squats, some hip hinges, do something. I have known people where they will do as many reps of squats for each minute they expect to be driving. If they were going on a long road trip, they would break up those squats during the rest breaks. This is a very simple way to add in those extra calories burned. Personally I like to try getting into and out of my car without using my hands. Some days I will try to mix up only using one foot or the other with no hands trying to carefully slid out of the car.
  7. Ditch the Car:
    If you do not have a crazy commute to work or when running errands or even going out to eat ditch the car for the evening. Many people forget that they can walk places and it will in fact not take long at all. The walk will make you feel good, burn calories, and will help out our environment.  Personally I try to ride my bike to work as often as I can. I know others who go and walk to the grocery store when buying only a handful of items. I know of others who take an uber to work in the morning and walk the distance home. The point is at least once a week ditch the car and ride your bike, walk, skate, or even run somewhere you need to go.
  8. Work
    Do not just sit there. If you have a job where you end up sitting down for an extended period of time you are doing harm to yourself. Luckily you can save yourself. Every 5 minutes you sound get up and stand up and squat down and then sit right back down. Anytime you have a break in your workflow, do a little twist in the chair stretching your back out. If you are stuck there reading your emails, add some arm circles in. You won’t even have to get out of your chair for those arm circles. All the little movements add up. So please, do it for yourself and do not just sit there.
  9. You & Your Significant Other
    You don’t have to be married to have a significant other. Exercising with a bestie, a girlfriend or boyfriend or even a pet is a great way to spend time and feel great.   Who does not like a long romantic walk down the beach in the sand? Who would not want to go walk or a hike and enjoy nature? Go and chase your dog on all four and be a dog for fifteen minutes. They will enjoy it and so will you. The point is get moving with the your better half and you will be better for it. It will definitely bring the two of you closer as well.
  10. Clean Everything
    Cleaning is a very efficient way to multitask. You are getting those extra calories burned while cleaning whatever you wanted clean anyways. The fun part is make a game out of the cleaning. When I wash my car I see absolutely how fast I can get my car washed and clean. When I begin to vacuum I try to do everything while balancing on one leg or the other. When I sweep my house, I grip the broomstick like I am trying to break it. The point is make it fun to clean and make it a good challenge. I put my laundry basket away from the washer and take jump shots with all my clothes into the washer. This is my favorite one and I highly recommend it if you have a top loader.

The key is that you remember why you are doing every thing. Keep in mind your own goal. I want you to remember on why you are trying to lose weight in the first place. If you focus on that goal and remember to have fun with all these easy steps and tricks to add those extra calories burned, you will get to where you want to be and have fun in the process. Losing weight is not necessarily hard work. It can be fun if you are open to the idea and willing to look a bit goofy at times. I promise you though every one of these 10 ways to increase your daily NEAT will be effective and will all add up in the end. A great book that I would recommend for anyone reading is the Slight Edge. The book’s main theme is that it is the little things done daily that lead to the biggest change.


by Jared Covarrubias – trainer at FSP and he graduated from Chapman University with his degree in Kinesiology and received his CSCS shortly after