It may be a secret weapon for those with weight loss goals, but for many people the answer to the question, “What is thermogenesis without exercise?” is as puzzling as the question of whether there is life on Mars.
Often abbreviated as NEAT, this invaluable health tool is a lot simpler than its name might suggest. In layman’s terms, it refers to calories burned during everyday activities rather than formal exercise (aka exercise activity thermogenesis, or EAT). For example, the energy you expend walking to work, cleaning the house or even fidgeting while sitting falls under the NEAT umbrella. When you invest in one of the best fitness trackers (opens in new tab)You’ll be amazed at how quickly all of this activity adds up!
And while many people pursuing health goals place more emphasis on spending their time in the gym, being laced in their sneakers, or racking up miles on the best treadmills (opens in new tab)the contribution of NEAT to a balanced lifestyle should not be underestimated.
A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine (opens in new tab) emphasized in 2007 the important role it can play in achieving healthy body composition. “The data support the central hypothesis that NEAT is central to the regulation of human energy expenditure and body weight regulation, and that NEAT is important to understanding the cause and effective treatment of obesity,” said James Levine, Director of Rare Disease Institute at Fondation Ipsen and author of the study.
Meanwhile, a study by the Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab) describes how “avoiding sedentary life, encouraging physical activity, and engaging in simple, repetitive, and creative activities can consume a significant amount of extra calories that can reduce weight and potentially prevent the cardiovascular and metabolic complications associated with obesity “.
What is NEAT?
While we’ve already given a brief overview of what NEAT is, we’ve asked around food source (opens in new tab) Nutritionist and founder of pH Nutrition Liam Holmes for defining the concept.
“It’s the energy that goes into everything we do outside of training,” says Holmes. “Pretty much anything that causes (calorie) burning can be classified as NEAT. It ranges from walking the house, walking the dog, gardening, playing with the kids, doing general chores and even fidgeting.”
How many calories does NEAT burn?
The number of calories burned by NEAT varies enormously depending on an individual’s situational factors. For example, a person’s work has a huge impact on their total daily energy expenditure; A worker who performs physically demanding tasks on his feet uses far more energy than an office worker who remains seated for most of the workday.
“The number of calories burned can vary greatly depending on an individual’s job,” says Holmes. He points to figures from an article published in Best Practice and Research Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (opens in new tab)and said: “This is one of the most important determinants as someone who is desk bound burns on average around 400-500 kcal (every day) compared to a construction worker or farm worker who can burn up to 2000 kcal.”
As a result, he says, NEAT is often responsible for burning more calories than formal exercise or EAT — although your energy expenditure from EAT will vary depending on the type and duration of exercise.
“The amount of energy burned during exercise has numerous variables, such as: B. How much effort you put in, your skill and the type of training,” says Holmes. “If you’ve been on a bike for an hour and you’re just jogging, the calories burned can be anywhere from 400 to 1200 kcal compared to someone who’s pushing really hard.”
For the most part, however, it’s only athletes who engage in “long-term endurance or very high-intensity training several times a day” who burn more calories each day on EAT than on NEAT.
How important is NEAT for weight loss?
According to Holmes, NEAT is an “essential tool” for those working towards body recomposition goals such as: B. Weight loss. That’s because while all but the elite athletes among us will have limited time each day to exercise, there are many things we can do outside of the gym to burn calories.
“We have to remember that there are two ways to create a calorie deficit,” says Holmes. “Decrease energy intake and increase energy output.” In other words, expending fewer calories through food and burning more calories through increased daily activity (EAT and NEAT).
“Increasing the NEAT and incorporating it into your day is a great way to create a calorie deficit without having to reduce your intake even further. It’s also a far less stressful way to increase energy output than incorporating more exercise into your routine. Research has shown that those who maintain a higher NEAT are more successful at maintaining their goal weight than those who have a lower NEAT.”
A study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry (opens in new tab) in 2018 reinforces this point. It states: “NEAT is a highly variable component of daily TEE (total daily energy expenditure) and low NEAT is associated with obesity. NRLA improves lifestyles, and fluctuations in individual and environmental factors can significantly affect daily energy consumption.”
How to increase your NEAT
Considering the numerous health benefits NEAT has to offer, Holmes’ number one piece of advice for those looking to increase thermogenesis outside of exercise is disarmingly simple: “Get moving!”.
You can make substitutions in your everyday life, such as B. Walking or cycling instead of driving, or taking the stairs instead of jumping in the elevator to increase your total daily energy expenditure. Another option is to invest in a standing desk or one of the best treadmills (opens in new tab)so you can walk while you work.
Non-exercise thermogenesis (NEAT): a component of total daily energy expenditure (opens in new tab)
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) (opens in new tab)
non-exercise activity thermogenesis ? liberation of life force (opens in new tab)
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis in obesity management (opens in new tab)