I Think You’ll Find This A NEAT Way To Lose Weight

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for activities that do not include sleeping, eating or exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, fidgeting,  (and even sleeping naked).

The law of conservation of energy states that body fat increases when energy intake is consistently greater than energy expenditure, I.E., Excess body fat and obesity are the result of sustained positive energy balance.

Understanding Metabolism

There are 3 components of daily energy expenditure:

  1. Basal metabolic rate (60%)– the energy required for core body functions
  2. The Thermic Effect of Food (10%)–  the energy expended in response to a meal and is associated with digestion, absorption, and fuel storage. (Greatest with protein and plants)
  3. Activity Thermogenesis (30%)

a/ Exercise activity thermogenesis

b/ Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

NEAT is expended every day and can be classified as:

  1. Occupational NEAT– Occupation is a predominant determinant of NEAT. An active job can burn 1,000 calories per day more than a sedentary job.
  2. Leisure NEAT–  Variability in leisure also accounts for substantial variability in NEAT. Depending on one’s choice of evening activity, the energy expenditure can range from 30 calories watching TV to 600 calories during more energetic pursuits such as gardening or home repair.


James A. Levine, MD, PhD, of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic Rochester, examined whether NEAT is important in obesity.

Levine integrated microsensors into undergarments to quantify body postures and movements, especially walking, every half-second for 10 days.

Obese subjects were seated for 2.5 hours per day more than lean subjects. The lean sedentary people stood and walked for more than 2 hours per day longer than obese subjects.

Levine found that If the obese subjects were to adopt the same NEAT lifestyle habits as the lean subjects, they might expend an additional 350 calories per day.

He concluded that NEAT, specifically walking, is of substantial energetic importance in obesity.

Levine, J. A. (2002). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 16(4), 679-702.


While going to the gym isn’t for everyone (although if you have read my prior blogs you know my take on exercise for health and mortality as well as the effects of having more muscle on your metabolism), NEAT is something we all can do for effective weight loss and health.


Practical NEAT tips:  

  • Walking to work
  • Typing (maybe even texting)
  • Performing yard work
  • Fidgeting
  • Get a pedometer
  • Take the stairs
  • Dancing while you clean
  • Parking  so you have to walk farther to get to where you are going
  • Avoiding sitting for extended periods. There is a  dose-response association between sitting time and mortality from all causes.

Katzmarzyk, P.T., Church, T.S., Craig, C.L., & Bouchard, C. (2009). Sitting Time and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41 (5), 998-1005

  • When you do sit, get on a stability ball and bounce
  • Cold Induced Thermogenesis (CIT)- Cold exposure is a technique in which a person voluntarily expose themselves to temperatures below their comfort level, leading to  reactions in the body to maintain the internal temperature. Some of these reactions include:  increased metabolic rate to produce heat, which results in weight loss. CIT can be done by wearing less clothes at home, keeping the temperature down, taking cold showers, sleeping naked)
  • Drink Green Tea- the ingestion of green tea extracts can significantly increase the fat oxidation at rest, during and after exercise

Gregersen, N. T., Bitz, C., Krog-Mikkelsen, I., Hels, O., Kovacs, E. M., Rycroft, J. A., … & Astrup, A. (2009). Effect of moderate intakes of different tea catechins and caffeine on acute measures of energy metabolism under sedentary conditions. British journal of nutrition, 102(08), 1187-1194.

Rains, T. M., Agarwal, S., & Maki, K. C. (2011). Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 22(1), 1-7.


The prognosis for Americans is bad and getting worse as obesity takes its toll on the health of adults and children

NEAT is a novel strategy that anyone can use to “BIOHACK” their metabolism, lose weight and regain their health.


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin