Nutrition and diet coaching helps fitness trainers reach their goals in Austin, Texas

What Is NEAT Weight Loss, Really? 

If you read the blog post ‘Can Eating Too Little Damage Your Metabolism and Make You Gain Weight?’ you probably noticed that is a very long name for a blog title, but also reading about NEAT weight loss. 

NEAT means Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is a fancy way to say all of the calories we burn outside of eating, sleeping, and exercise. More specifically, NEAT is walking, fidgeting, staying upright, and all other physical movements besides purposeful exercise. According to the National Library of Medicine, NEAT may be a successful strategy for managing obesity. Understanding how NEAT is affecting your diet and possible ways to maximize it can make a very positive impact on your fat loss progress. 

Understanding How NEAT Impacts Weight Loss

The calories burned from NEAT weight loss techniques often decrease during a diet. Why? Typically during a diet, you’ll have less energy, and your body will compensate by subconsciously decreasing spontaneous physical movements. Many people will notice that they walk less and lay around more during their diet. Those on very strict diets, like bodybuilders, note they even blink and talk slower. 

The problem comes in when you calculate your calories because part of that calculation is activity level. When you are dieting, you’ll get a calorie goal that should be less than what you are currently eating (i.e., calorie deficit). That goal is based on the activity level you had when you started the diet.  If you start to walk, fidget, and move less overall, that may impact the degree of calorie deficit and overall fat loss progress. 

However, if you keep or even increase your activity level, you’ll likely see excellent progress with your diet if you are consistent.

Strategies to Boost NEAT for Weight Loss

Walk More:

One great way to monitor this is a step tracker. If you know how many steps you are taking, you can set a goal to match or increase those over the course of your diet. A good goal is 8-12 thousand steps per day. Here are a few ideas on how to get more steps:

      • Park further away at the grocery store.
      • Take the stairs.
      • Go for an evening and/or morning walk.
      • Pace during phone calls
      • Adopt a dog to walk!
      • Use a desk treadmill-this had been incredible for my wife and I during work from home. It’s even better if you live somewhere hot and don’t want to go outside.

Move More:

Thanks, Captain Obvious! Let me be a bit more helpful by giving you a few ideas:

    • Ride your bike 
    • Play with your kids/dogs
    • Do yard work
    • Clean the house
    • Meal prep
    • Use a standing desk. This will also make a difference with back and hip stiffness due to sitting all day!

Start your diet with a slight calorie deficit:

Beginning a diet too aggressively will negatively affect energy levels, metabolism, and adherence.

Don’t diet longer than about 12 weeks continuously:

If you are solely focused on fat loss, switch to a maintenance phase after your 12-week diet, where you try to maintain the weight you’ve lost for 3-5 months. After that, then you can do another 12-week diet. Really long term and aggressive diets do more harm than good.

Bonus-Add cardio to your workout program:

Cardio isn’t necessary for weight loss, but it’s good for your heart and can be a great way to move more if you have a very sedentary job and struggle to get enough steps in.

NEAT weight loss is a simple yet useful technique to have in your fitness arsenal. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have a much better chance of getting over that plateau and reaching your fat loss goal! 


About the author : Coach Duncan
Coach Duncan McNair owner of McNair Health and Fitness in Austin

P: (832) 798-2317


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