I don’t doubt that you’re about to go a bit red around the gills when you find out that workouts don’t burn as many calories as you think. And unless you’re a professional athlete prepping for the Olympics, exercise won’t make much of a difference to your weekly calorie expenditure and thus, fat loss:
Don’t look at me like I’d just urinated all over your trousers. I just report science.
But don’t worry—in a moment of boredom this morning, I solved all the world’s problems. A bold claim, I get it. But if my plan were implemented, there would be no more pandemics, jealousy, keto, stupid burpees, or obesity.
While you’re told to ‘hit the gym’ (which you definitely should because weight lifting is the best thing you can do for fat loss), around the corner lurks something that could provide a simple opportunity for improving fat loss—NEAT:
Now, remember when I said exercise alone won’t make much of a difference to your weekly calorie expenditure and fat loss? Well, if you’re like most mortals, you probably train for an hour a day. That’s ~6% of your waking hours (assuming you sleep for 8 hours):
And if you train 4x per week, that’s only 4 hours working out versus 108 non-exercise hours:
And that’s where NEAT rolls in.
You can’t wake up tomorrow and decide to increase the flying fuck out of your BMR and TEF because they are predisposed (pretty much). What you can do is consciously strive to increase your NEAT by moving as much as you can when not throwing weights around the gym:
Let’s put it into a hypothetical example of how much NEAT can impact fat loss in two individuals of the same sex, age, body weight, etc. Twins, basically. Like Tyrion & Jamie Lannisters (GOT!):
Both individuals have an identical calorie expenditure of 2,100 kcal/day. The only difference is an additional 300 kcal burned through NEAT. This could result in 2,100 additional calories burned throughout the week and ~26 lbs (12 kg) of fat lost or gained per year.
Oh-oh! And the best part is that losing those 26 extra pounds doesn’t require paying a ‘personal trainer’ 50$/hour to do an exercise for sadistic fucks which also rhymes with pointless—burpees.
And if you’re about to say “Pfff… These are all just hypothetical numbers schnumbers, Egis” then please know that… you’re wrong. Study1 after study2 after study3 shows that higher NEAT plays an important role in your energy expenditure and fat loss/gain:
And it’s not just weight loss that NEAT affects. Sustaining it too. Ostendorf et al. (2019) found that successful weight loss maintainers have a significantly higher daily step count as compared to overweight individuals:
As a result, successful weight loss maintainers have higher levels of physical activity energy expenditure:
When people say ‘Fuck it, enough is enough. Gotta lose that flab off my belly!’, their initial instinct may be to go to the gym and do some running on a treadmill as if they’re being chased by a wolverine severely intoxicated by the mix of meth and alcohol. However, working out a few times a week doesn’t mean they can ‘sloth around’ for the rest of the week.
Maintaining an active lifestyle can burn significantly more calories than your average gym workout. So instead of blaming all of your weight loss woes on sugar or carbs, get 10k steps per day. Or 11k. Or 12. I don’t care. Anything counts.
A daily twenty-minute walk seems small but over time, those 20 minutes of movement compound into thousands of calories expended with minimal upheaval. So take the stairs, park in the farthest spot from the shop, put on headphones when taking a call, and go for a walk.
Unless you’re Frodo Baggins schlepping the Ring to Mordor with the fate of humankind on your shoulders, walking is easy peasy lemon squeezy.
There are millions of people who would donate a nut or two for a set of working legs. Don’t take yours for granted. Walk. Listen to a podcast. Take the stairs. Get your NEAT up.
It may be one of the catalysts to your fat loss success.