Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wash the dishes, walk the stairs, then lose 12 pounds of fat. It's NEAT.

Want to lose 12 pounds of fat this year with minimal changes to your lifestyle? Yes? Then read on...

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, otherwise known as NEAT, is a fairly old concept that is making its way into a lot of fitness professional's vocabulary. The funny thing is that NEAT doesn't have anything to do with exercise at all. It's basically the concept of burning more calories without exercising at all, but by doing little things throughout the course of the day that add up to expended calories. Let me explain...

I've written about basal metabolic rate (BMR), which accounts for approximately 60% of total energy spent in a day. Then there's the thermic effect of food, which accounts for approximately 10-15% of your caloric output per day. This includes eating, digesting, and processing food. The thermic effect of food is a fascinating subject, one that I will probably blog about later. But if there is one gold nugget of info I'd like to give you right now, it's this: protein, specifically lean protein (chicken and fish) have an extremely high thermic effect. Carbohydrates and fat (in that order) have a lower thermic effect. In short, simply increasing the amount of protein in your diet will increase your metabolism. Don't you just love chicken so much more now?

Lastly, there's non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This activity (because in all actuality it IS an activity), accounts for approximately 15-50% of your total daily caloric burn, depending on whether or not you live a sedentary lifestyle. Some examples would be tying your shoes, walking to the bathroom, washing dishes, rolling up a car window, talking, texting, picking up a pencil, me writing this blog get the idea.

Here comes another gold nugget: Studies conclude that performing simple tasks such as washing dishes instead of using a dishwasher, walking to work instead of driving, and taking stairs instead of the elevator can average out to approximately 120 extra calories spent per day, resulting in approximately 12 pounds of fat per year!

I've introduced this concept to many of my clients. It's not an excuse not to work out, but it is can be a huge contributor to success. Here are some examples of how you can apply it to your life:

-Take the stairs and not the elevator.
-Park far away from the store entrance instead of a close spot.
-Instead of emailing a co-worker, write a hand written note and walk to the co-worker's office.
-Stretch your arms, shoulders, or neck while sitting at a red light.
-Wash your dishes by hand.
-Ask for a standing station at work.
-Eat while standing up.
-Read while standing up.
-Talk on the phone while standing up. (Notice a trend here?)
-Wash your car by hand.

Of course, eating cleanly and exercising regularly is still the most effective weight loss program out there. But incorporate NEAT into your day and you could lose some unexpected weight.

So, what other ways can you think of so you can lose up to 12 pounds of fat within the next year?

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