Girl walking increasing NEAT activity

NEAT: What Is It and How Can I Increase It?

You’ve all heard by now that weight loss essentially comes down to calories (of course there are exceptions to this, but this is the general rule). To lose weight, you either decrease the amount that you eat, thus consuming fewer calories, or you move more, thus burning more calories. Or you do a mixture of both.

But what you might not be aware of is how exactly you burn calories, and that any kind of movement or process in the body will burn calories.

Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the amount of energy required to carry out the most basic functions of your body to keep you alive. We all have a different BMR depending on body mass, height, age etc.

Your body then also burns calories in the conversion of food to energy (so yes, every time you eat, you are burning calories), and of course for daily energy expenditure from exercise.

But energy expenditure from exercise is broken down into two points: exercise that you plan (i.e. going to the gym, going for a run) and your NEAT. NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (phew) and accounts for the calories burned from all the other moving you do during the day: walking up the stairs to your flat, showering, standing up, walking to the bathroom. I want to talk to you about how paying attention to your NEAT activity can really help you on your weight-loss goal (or for getting lean).

How can increasing my NEAT help me lose weight?

Very simply: because you are moving more, you are burning more calories. Tiny little adjustments will make quite a difference. The great thing about increasing your NEAT activity is that it is non-stress inducing exercise. It doesn’t have the same impact on your body or recovery as weightlifting or HIIT, for example. By increasing your NEAT, you increase your energy expenditure almost unnoticed.

It also makes you more active and, in doing so, will help you keep up your healthy and active lifestyle. I strongly believe that the more you use your body, the more you want to use it, so for those of you who are at the beginning of your fitness journey, one of the first steps would be to start increasing your NEAT. This will help ease you into a more active lifestyle.

How can I increase my NEAT?

There are a huge number of very simple things you can do to increase your NEAT activity. The tiniest extra movements will all help. These include:

  • standing instead of sitting
  • getting up from your chair every half an hour to walk around the office
  • walking or cycling to work instead of using transport
  • fidgeting
  • cleaning your house
  • doing your grocery shopping
  • having sex (oh yes, it counts)
  • increasing your step count

The last one can make a huge difference. Do not underestimate the effect of getting your steps in. Everyone is different and reacts differently to diet/exercise, but I see a very noticeable decrease in my overall body fat when I increase my step count. This is because I average around 15,000 steps every day, putting my NEAT pretty high. That combined with intense weightlifting sessions means I tend to have very little fat mass.  Wear a tracker and try to get 10,000-15,000 steps in a day. I guarantee you’ll notice a difference.

Should everyone increase their NEAT?

You know I would always encourage people to exercise and move more, so of course I say yes. Especially for those of you who are trying to lose weight or lower your body fat: increasing your NEAT activity will help you hugely.

The only exception would be those of you who are currently putting on weight or “bulking”. Increasing your NEAT means you are burning more and more calories, so this might be detrimental to your plan. No matter what your goals are though, I would always strongly recommend that you keep your step count high. Even in a bulking phase, it’s important to be moving and walking, and it means you can get some very gentle cardio in without putting too much stress on your body alongside your weight training.


Any questions? Leave me a comment or come say hi on Instagram and I’ll help you out!

Get moving my friends,




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