October 7, 2021

NEAT for Weight Loss and How to Incorporate it To Our Daily Lives

Written by: Zaakir Shakoor, MSc

What is NEAT? 

When we are thinking about weight loss, The first thing that pops to most people's mind are diet and exercise, but there's actually more to it.

NEAT is a crucial component of energy output (total calories burned).

NEAT is an abbreviation for Non-Exercise Activity-induced Thermogenesis, basically meaning the calories burnt from your daily activities account for around 10-15% of total calories burned (1)

These activities are not directly related to exercise energy expenditure

Because NEAT is such an overlooked energy output variable, it could help burn an average 280-350+kcal per day, making a big difference over the long run (1).

Based on these averages, we could be deducting an additional 2500 calories per week, 10000 calories a month, or 120000 calories a year approx. That's equivalent to 34.28lbs of weight! It's an exciting way to put it, right? (1

To support the notion, a highly accredited researcher called Levin (2) found that 300 minutes of being more active expended 3x more energy than resting, which transfers into long term weight management. 

Some people have a higher level of NEAT from subconscious movements like pacing around, tapping their feet on the ground and other small movements (3).  

On the other side of the spectrum, people who are obese tend to have an inherited trait where they don't engage in many NEAT based activities and much prefer being 'lazy' and laying around (3). Now, this isn't referring to any rare genetic conditions or an underactive thyroid; that's a whole different story altogether.

Regardless of your inherited traits, its easy to incorporate NEAT so I've highlighted some ways that you can include as part of your day.


6 Examples on Increasing your NEAT

#1 Chewing Low-Calorie Gum


Believe it or not, chewing burns through calories. A study by Kresge and Melanson (4) found that chewing a gum for a total of 3 hours burns 3-5% more calories. 

You could chew through around 6-11 calories per hour contained within the piece of gum.

Think about it, if you chew gum for 4 hours per day, that's roughly 24 calories burned. This may not seem like much, but over a week, it would accumulate to 168 calories, 672 calories per 28 days, and if you keep up with it, could even reach at least 8760 calories per year, which theoretically is equivalent to 2.3lbs of weight.  

It's just a thought, and there are so many other things that come into play when we're talking about long term weight management, but imagine being 2.3lbs lighter at the end of the year with a simple gum-chewing habit. 

(1, 2)


#2 Hand Washing the Dishes 


An average 154lb individual can burn just under 90 calories within 30 minutes of scrubbing those dishes. 

Let's say you wash the dishes 3x per week; that's 270 calories more you would burn compared to reclining on the sofa while watching TV, eating snacks and putting wasteful calories into your system.

(1, 2)


#3 Mowing the Lawn