Nutrition-wise blog

Is NEAT part of your weight-control plan?

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. May 1, 2013

In a previous blog, I talked about why some people struggle to lose weight despite increasing their exercise level and changing their diet. In this blog, I'd like to highlight another factor that might be key to weight-loss success.

After you exercise, do you look forward to a well-deserved rest? Maybe you collapse on the couch to watch TV or recline with a favorite book. And the housework? That can wait. Or can it?

I've often suspected that time spent at the gym doesn't tell the whole story when it comes to exercise and weight loss. There's research to support my hunch.

Consider the findings of a study that looked at total daily energy (calories) burned in a group of women who started a walking program. The study measured not only calories burned while walking but also total calories burned during the day in activities such as vacuuming, dusting, and walking from the parking lot to work or shops. This type of activity has a clever acronym: NEAT. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

The study found that a number of the women decreased their NEAT in response to the walking program. Which meant that they missed out on burning an additional 175 calories a day. Yes, housework, walking to meetings, and taking the stairs all add up.

Bottom line: Activity is important — all activity. Find exercises you enjoy and practice them regularly. And be sure to take advantage of other opportunities to burn calories as well. Keeping your house clean might be the edge you needed to tip the scales.

To your health and finding more ways to be NEAT,


May 01, 2013