by Bryan Rivera

NEAT is your non-exercise activity. Most people associate it with your step count. But it goes beyond that. Your NEAT is the additional calories you burn from walking, fidgeting, and posture. This is compared to the baseline amount if you were just lying down resting. What if I told you that your NEAT is the best time hack when it comes to burning calories? Let's compare NEAT to cardio.

When it comes to structured exercise, you have to make time for it. Factor in the warm up and cool down, this amount of time adds up. If you are following one of our strength training programs, then you know to prioritize lifting over other types of exercise. With the time you have left, is it realistic to fit it lots of cardio?

Upgrade your NEAT to burn more calories while spending time on your day-to-day activities. For example, I'm writing this blog article while using my standing desk! I'm focusing on my posture by pulling my shoulder blades back and down. Not only is all of this ergonomic, but it's a calorie burning multiplier!

Now let's get a little more technical. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Thermogenesis means heat production. Heat is released when calories are burned for energy. It's a trait of being alive! Your body functions and organ systems require the energy from calories for sustainability.

The trick about NEAT is that it usually goes undervalued. Here's an example to put it in perspective. One of my recent clients said that she plateaued in her weight loss journey. After looking at all her data, I noticed something interesting on her running app. It showed that she had abruptly went from doing 2 mile runs to 4 mile runs.

Guess what? The client was so tired from cardio that she started choosing the elevator over stairs, missed out on her normal walks, and became less active in general. Her decreased NEAT actually offset the extra cardio she was doing. Not to mention, too much cardio can increase cortisol levels. This is a stress hormone that causes water weight retention.

The takeaway message? Start thinking about your NEAT! Use the infographic below to incorporate creative ways to burn calories without burning up more of your time. Use these 6 ideas to ramp up your NEAT to knock down any diet plateau you're facing. Final tip: if you are tracking activity, track exercise steps separate from your NEAT. This let's you know if one is impacting the other.