The Secret to Effortless Weight Loss: Increase Your NEAT

A majority of adults in the world are trying to lose weight. That’s a dramatic statement, but according to a global consumer survey from YouGov in 2022, approximately 52% of people ages 18 and up are “usually trying to lose weight”. It’s clear that weight loss is on many people’s minds, but unfortunately, because of how convoluted the weight loss industry has become, far too many people never achieve the success they’re hoping for. 

Weight loss is often thought of in simple terms as a balance of calories in vs calories out—which it is to some extent—but there are a few key pieces missing from this overly simplified equation. 

Why Calories In Vs Calories Out Isn’t the Whole Picture

When people focus solely on cutting back their calories, they can become excessively restrictive. This can leave them feeling deprived, experiencing low moods, with low energy, and they’ll have to depend largely on sheer willpower to “stay on track”. 

Similarly, when people depend on exercise alone as a means to increase their energy output to lose weight, they likely find their workout grueling, unenjoyable, and not at all sustainable for the long term. 

Most people who go on a weight loss journey using either diet or exercise as their only tools manage to change their behaviors for a few months, weeks, or perhaps even days, but they almost always eventually return to their old ways and see the scale go back up.

So if sticking to a strict regimen isn’t the answer, what is?

Forming Sustainable Life-Improving Habits

What’s been proven as an effective method of weight loss instead of the aforementioned drastic methods is small lifestyle improvements built over a period of time. One of the most effective changes to make is anything that increases non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). 

NEAT is small subtle everyday movements that are outside of what we would think of as typical exercise. It includes anything from walking to your car, getting up from a chair, fidgeting, or putting away the dishes. You might not think this makes up much of your daily energy expenditure, but you’d be surprised! For most people, they actually burn more calories through non-exercise activity than they do from intentional exercise during a day.

Here are a few helpful habits to try to up your NEAT so you can effortlessly increase your total energy expenditure.

  • Get in the habit of going for walks
  • Get up and stretch or move around every 30 minutes or so while sitting at a desk
  • Pace while you’re talking on the phone instead of sitting
  • Do yard work, gardening or clean your house
  • Experiment with using a standup desk
  • Park further away from where you’re going
  • Shop with a basket instead of a shopping cart
  • Take the stairs when you can
  • Walk or bike to work
  • Offer to help a friend, family member or neighbor with labor they need done
  • Play with your kids
  • Complete a DIY project
  • Cook a meal from scratch

Enjoy a Balanced Active Life

Healthy weight loss needs to align with your lifestyle. Forcing yourself to go on 6am runs every morning is rarely the answer. There are almost always ways to pursue the things you love in a way that simultaneously improves your health and your happiness. All it takes is a little creativity and a willingness to try.

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