First things first I am sure the question a lot of you are asking is what the hell is NEAT and EAT. Well, these acronyms relate to the different types of movement we complete in a day. It is important to understand the difference between the two and also how these both contribute towards our daily energy expenditure. So, what do they both mean…?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
NEAT encompasses every day movement we undertake that is outside of our planned exercise. This includes things such as walking to work, getting out of bed, walking up the stairs, fidgeting, bending to pick something up… the list is endless. Even the most trivial activities can increase our metabolic rate and impact our daily expenditure. Naturally some peoples NEAT will be higher than others based on their lifestyle, job, environment, genetics etc. As a good example, manual workers will have a higher NEAT than those in a desk-based job as they are constantly moving around throughout the day. We often never really think about our NEAT in relation to our total daily expenditure and people certainly don’t give it much gravitas when it comes to losing weight and ‘calorie burn’, when in reality increasing your NEAT can make a big difference!
Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)
EAT therefore is our planned exercise, for example going to the gym, for a run or to a yoga class. Of course, there are hundreds of different ways to exercise but the key to EAT is that it is something we have planned to do. Naturally this planned activity is the first thing people tend to focus on when it comes to weight loss, however you will later read just how much this activity contributes to our daily expenditure and perhaps think twice about being so fixated on connecting calorie consumption to exercise specifics.
So how do these two activity types contribute to our daily exergy expenditure?
So, our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the sum of our NEAT, EAT, basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the thermic effect of food (TEF) we consume. Quickly touching on the two we haven’t covered, our BMR is the calories we burn every day when we are at rest. Our bodies need a certain number of calories to complete their day-to-day essential functions such as breathing, digesting, brain function and activity and even just keeping our heart pumping. Even when we are lying down doing absolutely nothing our body is still having to burn calories to simply keep us alive. Finally, the thermic effect of food equates to the calories we burn through digestion of the foods we eat. Some foods require more energy to digest than others for example protein. All of these combined make our TDEE and we often use this to calculate people’s total calorie intake for either weight loss, gain or maintenance. Put simply you need to consume less calories than your TDEE to lose weight or more to gain weight. On average our BMR contributes to around 70% of our TDEE, our NEAT 15%, TEF, 10% and EAT only 5%.
How can you increase your NEAT?
You may be surprised to see that your planned exercise contributes such a small amount to your TDEE and actually your NEAT can play a bigger role than you first thought. We’ve already established that our NEAT varies from person to person, however many of us could benefit from increasing our NEAT not only for those looking to lose weight but also to help with our general health and fitness. There are many ways we can increase our NEAT and can be as simple as some of the following:
- Getting up from your desk a few times a day to move around
- Cleaning the house
- Taking stairs instead of lift
- Walking instead of driving or parking further away from your location to add some more steps in
- Increasing your daily step count
- Taking the dog for a walk
So, let’s all move a little more every day😊
Lots of Love