Have you heard about non-exercise activity thermogenesis? It’s the calories you burn going about your day! Here are 11 ways to increase NEAT.
My name is Chantal – welcome to my website! I’m a mom of two and NASM certified personal trainer. I’m glad you’re here!
If you’re here to learn about how to increase NEAT (AKA the calories you burn from your daily movement), this is just the post for you!
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It sounds a little intimidating, but it’s just a way of referring to the energy your body expends just to live your life.
NEAT is whatever calories you burn while NOT working out.
You burn calories when you walk from Point A to Point B. Same when you’re getting in-and-out of a car.
You burn calories when you are asleep, standing up, brushing your teeth, digesting, and more!
So again, “NEAT” just refers to all of the calories you burn while simply existing. It happens when you’re not working out, and it happens whether you want it to or not!
Related Reading: How To Start Exercising Again After A Long Break
Now, if you want to increase your NEAT for weight loss reasons, there are a few things you should understand. The first is a concept known as “Basal Metabolic Rate,” or your BMR.
Everyone has their own BMR, and it can vary greatly from person-to-person. Your overall health, as well as height, gender, and more determine this number.
Your basal metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy (calories) your body with require just to function on a basic level.
This is just for bodily functions such as breathing and circulation. Your BMR ONLY refers to what your body needs in terms of vital functions.
A person’s BMR can vary depending on age, weight, muscle mass, hormones, etc. It can really be different from person to person.
For example, if you are very overweight, your heart will need to work much harder to pump blood throughout your body. Your legs will need to work harder to carry your weight around, etc.
In general (and this is a very general statement), the more weight you carry around, the more calories your body will require just to maintain.
It is important to know your BMR because it makes it easier to determine the amount of energy (calories) your body needs.
When you know your basal metabolic rate, weight loss becomes easier because you have your BMR as a minimum amount that you need to consume.
For example, my BMR is 1,448 calories. That means that just to function (even if I were to lay in bed all day), my body needs 1,448 calories. If I were to consume more than that without adding any activity into my day, I’d gain weight.
I found out my BMR by using my RENPHO Smart Scale regularly and making sure it was set up properly with my weight, age, and height. If you don’t have a scale that displays BMR, you can use an online calculator like this one to get a pretty good estimate for your own BMR.
Since I do not just lay around all day, I burn quite a bit more than my BMR amount in calories every day.
By wearing my Apple Watch, I’ve learned that even on days I don’t exercise, I burn well over 2,200 calories per day. Just from housework and taking care of my kiddos!
And on days that I do exercise, I usually burn closer to 2,800 calories. (I know you’re hear to find out how you can increase NEAT for yourself – I’m getting there!)
While I know that my Apple Watch can’t possibly be totally accurate, it has helped me find out that I am burning a WHOLE bunch more calories that I would have thought.
Why is this important?
I used to try to lose weight by eating JUST 1,400 calories per day. I didn’t know that to simply function, I needed at LEAST that many calories. (Since that’s close to my BMR.)
So what happened?
For years and years, I UNDER ATE and it BACKFIRED.
I would diet for a few days, eating just 1,400 calories. Then, after about three days, I would be so starving and low-energy, that I’d binge. We’re talking zero self-control.
I plateau’d for years and years because I didn’t know that I actually needed several hundred more calories to function.
I thought that I was stupid and weak for not having the self-control to just eat 1,400 calories. Then I hated myself for over-eating later.
It was a vicious and self-destructive cycle.
Now that I have more experience, and education about losing weight in a healthy way (goodbye, fad diet culture!), I am learning about reverse dieting and how eating more can actually help me lose weight.
P.S. Follow me on Instagram to watch my own reverse dieting saga!
So these are my two major pieces of advice if you’re here for weight loss help:
- Find out your BMR & don’t eat below it.
- Get a good gauge for how much NEAT you already expend without exercise.
In other words, make sure you are eating enough to fuel your body. If you don’t, you are setting yourself up for binging, hormonal issues, and potentially worse.
The odds are that you burn at least a few hundred more calories than your BMR every single day (even if you don’t exercise), so don’t drop your calories too low. Don’t be like 2015 Chantal. 🙂
Your calorie deficit shouldn’t be extreme.
Okay. Onto the ways to increase NEAT.
11 Ways To Increase NEAT (And Burn More Calories)
Make more trips when you put your laundry away.
I do this all of the time since I’m a mom. Rather than putting everything away all at once, I do this: Fold a few things – put them away. Repeat. This has me going all over the house in and out of everyone’s room.
It’s not super efficient, but if you have the time, it can really increase your energy burned. Any extra little movement helps!
Park further away when entering a business or your place of work.
This is a great way to get increase your daily steps. It’s simple enough, you just have to get in the habit of doing it.
Don’t be that person who drives around the parking lot for 15 minutes looking for a “good spot.”
When you go to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, work, or anywhere, use this trick to burn additional calories.
Opt out of owning a robot vacuum and keep doing it yourself.
Vacuuming is great a non-exercise activity to burn extra calories! Be very thorough and you will only burn more energy. It’s a win-win!
Mow your own lawn / do your own landscaping.
Yard work can burn so many calories that it’s arguably a workout. I personally love to garden and mow the lawn. If you want to increase your calorie expenditure consider doing your own yard work instead of hiring it out.
Fire your housekeeper if you have one!
Okay, I don’t have a housekeeper and I’m sure that many of you don’t, either. (I love a good helping hand though!) But if you DO, I suggest cutting back on the frequency of your cleanings.
The point is that housework of ANY kind will help you burn more calories. You can apply this idea to anything physical you’ve hired out.
It’s okay to have help sometimes, but if you’re serious about improving your health, it’s better to do more yourself.
Better yet, make cleaning a part of your daily routine to increase your NEAT levels.
Start sweeping and mopping your floors more often.
This is a win-win for you! You get to enjoy a cleaner home while burning more calories! I don’t mop my floors super often, but when I do I always burn a ton of calories and get extra steps in.
However, I sweep something in my house almost daily, and it feels good!
Household chores might be a common theme here, but doing them can really improve your total daily energy expenditure.
If you have stairs, move something important (like your home office or TV) upstairs so that you have to use the stairs more often.
I’ve mostly lived in homes that have stairs, but my steps went way up when I moved into a home where my laundry room and master bedroom were upstairs! (Before they were both downstairs, giving me less reasons to go up and down.)
If you have two levels in your home, you can simply make the choice to go up and down more often every day.
You can either move some important stuff upstairs, or you can just go up and down for the heck of it!
It’s all a choice. 🙂
Clean your windows, siding, trim, and other neglected areas more regularly.
Let’s be honest – something in our home needs to be cleaned at any given moment. Even when my home is super tidy, there is deep cleaning that could be done.
While some cleaning tasks aren’t exactly everyday activities, they could be weekly or monthly activities instead of annual or bi-annual.
So, instead of sitting around watching yet another episode of TV, why not put on some headphones and clean something that’s been neglected? Even if it will only take five or ten minutes, that extra scrub will help you out!
(Can y’all tell that I’m a homemaker BIG into cleaning?)
Set a step-goal using an activity tracker or pedometer and pace your house if you have to!
Have you ever worn a pedometer (tracks your steps) or an activity tracker? If you haven’t, it’s time to invest in one! People have a tendency to do more steps and increase their movement when they wear one.
Trust me on this, it works! When I am wearing my Apple Watch, I almost always seem to take more steps and be more intentional about movement.
These devices don’t have to break the bank, either. You can find cheap pedometers online. I have to admit though, there’s something very satisfying about knowing how many calories I’ve burned when I use my Apple Watch!
This is just another one of those simple ways to encourage more movement without doing it in any fancy way.
Stand up often if you work a desk job.
This seems like a no-brainer, but we often forget to simply stand. The act of standing-from-sitting requires a whole bunch of muscles.
Not only that, but standing is better for your circulation, therefore it is better for your heart.
Standing also burns a few more calories per hour, of course! Want to take it a step further? Get yourself a standing desk.
Eat More PROTEin
Is it really that simple? Yes! If you want to increase your NEAT, consider adding more protein to your diet.
Why? Because protein digestion burns more calories that what is required to digest fats and carbs. This will help you get one step closer to your fat loss goals.
The energy that your body expends to digest your food is known as the thermic effect of food. This can vary based on food type and your personal metabolism.
However, science tells us that protein keeps us feeling full longer while also burning more calories overall while we digest.
That’s it, friends! Use small steps to improve your caloric burn. You’ll be inching closer to your weight loss goals without any extra formal exercise. Sweet!
If you have any more tips on ways to increase NEAT, let me know!