Okay, so you’re at the point in your weight loss journey where you understand what you need to do and you’re doing it consistently, but you’re wondering what else you can do to move the needle forward. The answer is N.E.A.T. or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
Before we dive into N.E.A.T., I want to start by talking about the different ways that your body stores so we can understand why we would need to mobilize fat for oxidation in order to lose weight.
Let's first start with subcutaneous fat. This is the fat that you can see on your body - the fat around your arms, legs, belly, etc. Subcutaneous fat makes up 90% of your body.
The other type of fat is called visceral fat. This is the fat that's deep in your abdominal wall. You can't see it, but it cushions your organs. When your visceral fat is high, that puts you at risk for chronic disease. In order to lose weight (and body fat) we need to mobilize and then oxidize the fat. But how do we do that when it's already stored? We know that a calorie deficit of burning more calories than you're taking in helps with weight loss, that’s just science. However, there is another factor. There are other things that you can do in order to lose weight without exercising more and having to eat less.
Fat goes through this process of being mobilized and then oxidized. Fatty acids from adipose tissue are mobilized and plasma carries them by albumin to the muscle for oxidation and mobilization. So basically mobilization is the breakdown of stored fat into free fatty acids.
Now, whenever you all are doing N.E.A.T. (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) you can actually burn an additional 800 to 2,400 calories per day! There are so many ways you can add N.E.A.T. into your life! And I'm going to share an example of this because I think it's really valuable.
Let’s say a 145-pound person burns approximately 102 calories an hour while performing their office job in a seated position (that's 1.7 calories per minute). However, they burn 174 calories an hour if performing those same office duties while standing. That’s 72 more calories per hour. This person is burning more just with the simple motion of standing. 174 calories may not seem like much, but it translates to 18,000 calories or a little over five pounds over 250 work days. That same person would need to squeeze in 60, 30 minute runs at five miles per hour to achieve that same caloric burn. So you can see how you can save time by adding in more of these activities that burn calories throughout your day.
Okay, now let's go into some ways you can start burning more calories in your day.
This is your action item for the week. Make a list of your general daily activities and then ask yourself how many hours do you sit? Then create a ratio. So think about how much time you spend sitting versus movement such as walking, standing, cleaning, cooking, fidgeting, etc. Yes, fidgeting can actually be a pretty effective weight loss tool! Then I want you to think of creative ways that you can move more. And I’m going to give some practical steps for adding more N.E.A.T. to your life.
Wash your car by hand
Pace the sidelines at your kids' athletic games
Carry your groceries instead of pushing a cart
Walk briskly through the mall
Take the long way to the water cooler or the bathroom at the office
Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing them
Pace while you're talking on the phone
Get a standing desk
Take some breaks to go on walks and just be outside in general
Another idea I got from my boyfriend is to not bring a water bottle to the gym so that you can get up between sets and take a sip of water and then come back instead of sitting there. This is especially helpful when you're strength training between sets where you're just sitting there waiting to lift another set again. Instead of waiting, you could utilize that time by walking.
A helpful tool I use is my Fitbit. It really keeps me on target for moving more, and it helps me see how much I'm standing. I know Apple watches are really helpful for this too. So think about some tools that could remind you to move more throughout the day.
Once you come up with your ratio and think about your routine, pick something simple to work on. Like maybe you're gonna stand more instead of sit and add that in. Then the next month add in the goal to take a lunch walk for 10 minutes. Pick small, actionable items and go from there!
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