Usually called NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis or simply being more active in general burns a lot more calories
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What if we told you that in order to burn more calories, you need to do more than just commit to regular workouts in the gym?
Common sense would obviously dictate that being more active in general ends up getting you healthier and fitter than just putting in hours in the gym and leaving it at that, but here’s the science to back it up.
First, everything revolves around your calories. A quick refresher—if you’re trying to lose weight and/or burn fat, you simply need to burn more calories than you eat. If you’re trying to gain weight and/or bulk up, just reverse that: Eat more calories than you burn. Your body is always burning calories, and that’s represented in the Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
Your TDEE is broken down into your basal metabolic rate or the calories you burn at rest, thermic effect of food or the calories you burn eating and digesting food, and physical activity, which accounts for 30 percent of your TDEE.
Physical activity is then further split in two: exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) or your actual workouts, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) or all other physical activity that you do.
This is what we’re saying—NEAT is more important than EAT, as EAT only takes up a few hours of your day, while NEAT is what you’re doing every day. EAT only contributes around five percent of your TDEE, while NEAT goes up to around 15 percent.
Basically, the advice is to be more active.
If you’re trying to lose weight, this doesn’t mean to skip your EAT or workouts altogether. Yes, you should still definitely do them, especially if you’re trying to build and/or maintain your muscle mass (which also helps you burn calories). And you should also still eat well or control your portions according to your goals. But what it all comes down to is to make sure you’re deliberately making choices that essentially lead to more physical activity and not neglecting that part of your daily life.
These choices include but are not limited to:
- Walking more (try to go for 7,000 to 10,000 steps every day, as much as you can)
- Standing more (you could try changing your work setup to a standing desk, if you can)
- Taking the stairs
- Doing more chores around the house
- Playing around more
So the next time you’re frustrated that you’re not hitting your goals, take a closer look at how active you really are. Oftentimes, the small changes and movements can add up to a lot, especially if you’re not an athlete who trains almost every day.
Start there and see where it goes.