Yes, there is a way to burn more calories. BUT, it still has to do with movement. My apologies to all those who thought there was a magic pill or a tea that was going to do it for them. Burning calories always comes down to movement – whether that be intentional exercise like a workout, or non-intentional exercise like walking to and from your car. So, how can you burn more calories by increasing your NEAT, and what even is NEAT?
To start off, NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. What that breaks down to is energy expended throughout the day on things other than eating, sleeping and exercising. So it basically encompasses everything else you do in the day – and you can specifically increase it, too!
NEAT is different for everyone and can also depend on your lifestyle. Someone who works construction and is doing manual labor is going to have a higher NEAT than someone who works in finance. This is because one is walking around all day and one is sitting at a desk – and we all know that sitting at a desk does not take very much effort by the body. There are also ways that NEAT can fluctuate other than movement. Things like under eating and stress can decrease NEAT, while overeating and thinking/working can increase NEAT. It is actually a really cool mechanism the body has, although we aren’t totally sure what regulates it. This means with more research we might be able to find out that spontaneous movement to increase NEAT is not spontaneous at all, but thoughtfully decided.
NEAT can also play a role in body composition – because the higher your NEAT is, the more calories you burn! This can be important for people looking to lose body fat but don’t feel they can devote 5-6 days a week to exercising (although doing it from home can be very easy/beneficial). So let’s dive into how you can burn more calories by increasing NEAT.
You may already be doing some of these things and not even know it; kudos to you! Otherwise these are just a few ways you can increase your NEAT, burn more calories during the day and also just start to FEEL better because you are moving more throughout the day!
• Take A Walk – literally. Just taking 1 long walk a day (30 minutes) or just breaking it up into smaller chunks throughout the day. Walking is actually a great way to also just clear your head, get some air, and also fat is burned at a MODERATE intensity – so walking is perfect (just need a little extra pep in your step).
• Do Chores – walking around your house all day cleaning is a sure way to increase your NEAT without actually having to think about it! Vacuuming, dusting, mopping…all the things! Killing two birds with one stone on this one!
• Take the stairs – again, movement without extra thought! You just have to skip the elevator and opt for the stairs. And even if you aren’t someone who has a ton of stairs or goes up and down to different floors like crazy, it still adds up! Imagine taking 2 flights of stairs a day for 10 years…that’s 7,300 flights – a sure way to make a difference.
• Get a standing desk – this might not be am option for everyone, but if it is for you it is definitely worth the investment. We as humans sit WAY TOO much nowadays with most things being online or virtual. Getting a standing desk can burn a decent amount of calories throughout the day, and it will help you be more productive as blood flow is going to increase!
• Park further away – again, seems small but it adds up! If you park at the back of the parking lot for even just two errands, you likely added on about 20 minutes of walking to your day! And that makes for a pretty decent walk if you ask me.
• Extra credit – anytime throughout your day, just add in movement. Maybe you do squats while brushing your teeth or sit ups while watching tv. Those little things throughout the day with increase that non-exercise activity thermogenesis and your body is going to love you for it. We are not meant to be sitting all day in chairs/desks, so get up!
I’ll let you in on a little secret here – there is another way to burn more calories at rest. It has to do with your body composition. Those who have more muscle on them are going to burn more calories at rest than someone with more fat on them. Why? Because muscle tissue takes more energy to innervate and stimulate. Muscle is a denser tissue than fat and therefore requires more energy (calories) to move. WIN! So that also means if you start up a strong strength training regime (or workout program in general involving weights) you are likely going to be able to increase this number as well!
So now we have NEAT burning calories, muscle burning calories, workouts burning calories…bye, bye calories! And I will add to that, as you begin to move more and exercise – you are also going to speed up your metabolism and therefore allow your body to utilize the foods you are fueling it with. This is going to make for more energy, better mood, and fat loss! But, you have to make sure you are fueling with the right foods – check out this blog post on meal prep and a healthy grocery haul if you are in need of help in that department.
NEAT is a simple way that our body almost “rewards” us for moving throughout the day and we should take advantage of it. Think about how many extra calories you could burn a week (if your goal is fat loss) by just adding in a few walks! That could be the difference between losing 1lb or 5lb over the course of a month with nutrition on track! I hope this “how to burn more calories” helped you in both a scientific and simple way so that you understand how movement really makes a huge difference in reaching your goals!