a NEAT way to boost your metabolism

Non Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis- or the things you do with your body throughout the day when you aren’t exercising. These activities can range from tapping your feet and twirling you hair to washing dishes, cleaning your apartment, pacing around a room, organizing shelves or taking stairs instead of the elevator. Or Cleaning your kitchen floor (see picture above )

NEAT can be large factor in your metabolic rate, especially if you are following nutritional programming and training daily for a sport or weight loss/gain. In extreme situations high-effect NEAT movements could result in up to an extra 2000 kcal of expenditure per day beyond the basal metabolic rate, depending on body weight and level of activity.¹

Let’s do a quick overview of your metabolism

Your metabolism is made up of  TDEE- Total Daily Energy Expenditure, how much energy is used (calories burned) in a 24 hour period,  which has 3 parts:

  1. BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate, this is what your body burns when you are lying down or resting just to function and is effected by your lean body mass. This is what we mean when we say “muscle burns more then fat” We mean the more lean body mass you have the higher your BMR will be.
  2.  TEF– Thermal effect of food- The calories (energy) your body uses to digest food. All food is not created equal in this case. Protein takes more energy to digest then carbohydrates and fat. Eating spicy foods can add to this as well.  In total TEF makes up about  10%of our total metabolism.
  3. TEPA – Thermal Effect of Physical Activity – your exercise and training 10-30% of daily metabolism

The other portion of your metabolism is NEAT

  1. NEAT– Non Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis- As mentioned above it is everything you do that is not sleeping, digestion or exercise. People who have active jobs have a higher NEAT then people with sedentary jobs. People who live in urban cities & walk have higher NEAT then rural drivers.

There are a couple of interesting studies about dieting/exercise and NEAT.  One which shows that when a person is doing steady state cardiovascular activity such as treadmill, stair master or elliptical, their NEAT tends to drop down. The activity they perform throughout the day goes down as their cardio increases & they become more lethargic . Unlike HIIT or interval training which leaves us with EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) or in layman’s terms-  calories burned throughout the day after the exercise is finished, steady state cardio actually causes us to be lazier in our NEAT activities. ²

What they are saying is when we expend energy on activities such as cardio machines in the gym we tend to do less movement throughout the day so it may not actually be helping our metabolism. (interesting thought in to the “fat skinny” cardio concept) Less lean body mass + more steady state cardio = lower metabolism.

Another study shows us that when people are in a negative energy balance (Dieting) their NEAT goes down³

The main take away is that NEAT can be the reason why you are dieting properly (meaning you aren’t lying to yourself about your food intake), exercising daily and still not losing any weight.

How can  you change this?

Be aware of your activities outside of the gym. Clean your house more, cook instead of delivery, take the stairs over the elevator, park further away from the store, pace around while you are on phone calls, walk instead of Uber,  lift weights, & do 20min of HIIT over  1 hour of steady state cardio.

Wondering why CrossFitters are always in such great shape? If we add up all of the information above a 10-20 minute metcon increases your metabolic rate throughout the day, keeps your NEAT range high and the weightlifting portion of the WOD increases lean body mass. Seems like the obvious choice over 45mins of cardio equpiment in a gym.


  1. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis in obesity management. Villablanca PA1, Alegria JR2, Mookadam F3Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Apr;90(4):509-19. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.001.
  2. A Comparison of the Effects of Interval Training vs. Continuous Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Obese Pre-Menopausal Women. King, Jeffery East Tennessee State University
  3. Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), Levine J. 2002 Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2002 Dec; 6(4) 679-702.