Coach | Nutritionist
Coach | Nutritionist
Your Metabolism isn’t slow. your neat is
“That guy is lucky. He can easily eat anything since he has a fast metabolism.”
How many times have you heard that phrase in the past?
It’s usually followed up with “I have a slow metabolism. I just need to look at food and I gain a ton of fat.”
The truth is, most of the time this isn’t the case. There is nothing wrong with their metabolism at all. It’s just an easy excuse because we heard –or read– it at work, in the gym, or on the internet.
Despite going to the gym a number of times a week while cutting calories. They may still find it difficult and plateau which then results in frustration, which then leads to a panic decision, such as drastically cutting calories and working out even more. And when this doesn’t fix things, what next?
I’m not dismissing that there actually are people out there that have hormonal issues which canresult in their metabolism being slow. But it’s like I mentioned above. This isn’t always the issue.
In these cases, it comes down to simply a lack of moving. By moving I don’t mean training. I mean basic, every day, moving. This uses up calories too. A lot, in fact.
This is where NEAT becomes an important player in the game of fat loss.
First off, what is NEAT?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is the movements that we do in our daily lives out with sleeping, eating, and purposeful training. It’s everything from walking, gardening, housework, and even fidgeting.
All these movements –and more– are keeping the body both consciously and subconsciously active. Burning calories in the process. So when people are becoming obsessed with the latest fat burning supplement (lol), superfood (more lols), or fitness gadget to fix their fat loss woes, it is more likely down to a decrease of NEAT levels.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS NEAT IN TERMS OF ACTUAL WEIGHT LOSS?
Your energy requires can be broken down into three areas. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and NEAT.
NEAT can account for as up to 50% of energy expenditure in people who are active, and as little as 15% for people who are more sedentary. That’s a large range which highlights it’s effectiveness in weight management.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the energy that’s expended to keep the body functioning while you are sleeping. Breathing, blood circulation, body temperature, muscle contraction, brain and nerve control, and cell growth, to name a few. This can account for 60-75% of your total daily energy requirements.
And lastly, you have the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is the number of calories that’s required to digest food (yes, you burn calories while consuming food which is sweet!). The energy required for this is withing a range of 5-35%. This is down to the type of nutrient that you digesting. Here is an example:
- Protein – 20-35%
- Carbohydrates – 5-15%
- Fat – 0-5%
This is one of the main reason that it is more advisable to have a higher protein intake while dieting for fat loss.
So, for example, if you take a male who has a BMR of 2000, he is going to burn around 300 calories digesting his food daily. Adding on to that, he may burn between 300-1000 calories by walking, gardening, playing accidental footsie with his boss, or whether he sits in an office all day to then go home to then sit on the sofa until bed.
This means that if this guy did no active training in the gym –or similar, and his NEAT levels were on the lower end of the scale. He would be burning around 2600 calories each day. However, if his NEAT levels were on the higher end of the scale then he could be burning up to 3300 calories daily. That is a 700 calorie difference between losing, and gaining weight.
You could actually go to Burker King and place an order for:
- Whopper Jr sandwich, without mayo (240)
- Quaker oatmeal (170)
- Garden side salad (60)
- Apple slices (30)
Which all adds up to 500 calories. Still leaving 200 on the table.
Not bad for simply moving a little more.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SKINNY FRIEND?
We all have that friend who –like the example at the start of this post– seems like they could live on a diet on poptart sandwiches and Five Guys milkshakes and still walk around looking like a marathon runner. Like anything else, you don’t know what their daily lifestyle is like.
The chances are they are naturally more active. Even if they have a desk job, they will be moving around the office at any given opportunity. Have various hobbies midweek while being on the go all weekend. They aren’t lucky. They just naturally don’t –or can’t– stop moving. Subconsciously burning more calories.
Like anything else in this life. Success leaves clues.
NEAT CAN BE ADJUSTED.
Although people can naturally have higher NEAT levels, this can naturally adjust, decreasing through the process of weight loss dieting.
When in a weight loss phase, your metabolism can slow down (This can also happen even if your weight has been around maintenance for over a year).
This does not mean that your training effort is any less. You will be beginning to naturally move less due to the decrease of energy from the dieting phase. Leading to your NEAT levels and overall physical activity unconsciously decreasing with weight loss. Although you may be working your ass off in the gym to try and burn off some extra calories, you are losing out on up to 500 calories per day by simply moving less.
This can work in the other direction too. If you start to diet back up and your NEAT levels don’t increase, then you can end up increasing your weight even quicker over time due to the lack of energy being used while there is more coming in.
Remember. Although you may not naturally move a lot, you can still place down markers to purposely increase it.
- Use a fitness tracker with the aim to hit 10,000 steps daily.
- Use the stairs instead of the escalator or lift.
- Park a little further from from or the store.
- Walk and talk while in conversations, whether its in person or on the phone.
- Take 10 minute breaks every hours to take a short walk while at work.
- Perform foam rolling or mobility exercises while watching TV.
- Have both a morning and evening routine of a 5-minute flow such as the ones on Max Shanks YouTube channel
You don’t need to do all these at once. Just add in one or two a week until it becomes a habit.
Sure, your metabolism may be slower, but it isn’t set in stone. You can adjust it with simple tasks over time. There’s a reason that the skinny person who is always on their feet may be skinny. Just the same reason that the overweight person who is always sedentary is overweight.
Fast and slow metabolism – It isn’t as black and white as you think. This can be adjusted by increasing your NEAT.
How effective is NEAT in terms of actual weight loss? – NEAT, BMR, and TEF all play a part in your daily energy expenditure.
What about my skinny friend? – Success leaves clues. Their natural activity level may be different to yours.
NEAT can be adjusted – NEAT levels aren’t absolute. They can naturally change through weight loss or weight gain.
P.S. Was this article NEAT enough for you? (That was truly awful, I know) Then why not check out my newsletter below so that you don’t miss any more posts like this.