What is NEAT and how it can help boost your metabolism

The age old message is that to lose weight you need to exercise MORE and boost your metabolism. 

We know that exercise is crucial to overall health and wellbeing, as well as your hormones! And it's a vital piece of any weight loss protocol (although not as vital as your diet!).

But what if I told you that one of the most effective ways to boost your metaobilism is to NOT exercise? I don’t mean sit on the sofa all day. I’m talking about something called ‘Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’ – luckily they decided to shorten it to NEAT!

You can watch the video below or listen to the podcast; 

What is NEAT?

The traditional perception of ‘exercise’ includes planned activities such as running, cycling, swimming, weights, gym classes, Pilates and yoga. All great by the way!

But NEAT is actually the energy we use in every day living. It’s everything in between sitting, sleeping, eating AND doing planned exercise (eg gym/running, etc).

And in recent years, science is revealing that it’s an important way to boost your metabolism via your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of energy your body burns through staying alive (breathing, moving, heart beating, thinking, even fidgeting!). And the higher your BMR, the more energy and calories you will burn off.

Your BMR will be individual to you, and depend on your age, fitness level, diet, lifestyle, genetics, weight etc. So NEAT can account for as little as 15% of energy expenditure in the very sedentary and up to 50% in very active individuals. 

This is great news for those of us who maybe have an injury or just really hate formal exercise!  

And also if you think you have a ‘slow metabolism’, you may be right, but it may just be that you’re not as active as you need to be.

So increasing NEAT is a great way to boost your metabolism and lose weight. But it doesn’t stop there. In this study, it’s also been attributed to decreased risk of obesity, cardiovascular issues, metabolic syndrome and death!

How can we do more NEAT?

Increasing your overall movement will involve some habit changes. But even small changes can make a difference and boost your metabolism, so do what you can.

  1. Sit less, stand more. If you sit for your job, then try standing more often. It’s not only going to increase your NEAT and help with weight loss, but we know the harmful effects of sitting too much. No matter how many times a week you are exercising, it will not make up for a sedentary lifestyle the rest of the time.  Try a standing desk, or just standing up when you’re on the phone, or on Zoom, or when you’re checking your emails. 
  2. Take breaks – when you’re at your desk, set an alarm to move, either on your phone or on your computer. You can set it for every half hour, or hour, as a reminder to get up and move. Or if you’re watching TV, get up during the ad breaks. You can go get a glass of water, or do some arm cirlces, or simple stretches (or try Dr Chatterjee’s 5 minute kitchen workout!) or Linda Stephens 5 minute Bathroom Bootcamp which also helps strengthen your pelvic floor!  Apps like Stretchly and Stand Up! can be helpful reminders.
  3. Walk – walking is one of the best ways to de-stress, improve your mood and stay active. Get a tracker so you can monitor your steps, and get outside into nature as much as possible to get a mood boost. 
  4. Take the stairs – make a rule for yourself that you’ll always opt for the stairs over escalators or lifts. Climbing stairs is amazing exercise – it’s like a free gym!
  5. Cook – cooking will not only benefit your diet (as long as it’s healthy!) but it’s a great way to move more. And your digestion will benefit from the anticipation of your food as you’re tasting and smelling it.
  6. Stretch – incorporating some stretching into your daily routine not only helps keep you strong and flexible but is also a great opportunity to move your body. I personally do a short yoga practice every morning before I start work. Try Yoga with Adrienne or many other yoga classes online. 
  7. Dance – get your dancing shoes on! Put your favourite playlist on and dance around the house. Or dance when you’re cooking , cleaning or just to cheer yourself up! Great for your mood and stress levels too.

Doing some of these things daily will really help to boost your metabolism and improve your overall health.

Do contact us if you’d like more personalised help with your health.

Leave a Reply