At the end of the day fat loss is all about one thing: energy balance. So what is that supposed to mean? As long as you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming you will lose fat; it’s as simple as that. Keep in mind that fat is simply stored energy; the only way to get rid of it is to “tap into” the reserve with calorie restriction, any effective fat loss program is centered around this concept.
If fat loss is all about calorie expenditure then you obviously want to burn as many calories as possible every day. Outside of any physical fitness routine you currently have (weight lifting, biking, running, etc.) and getting from place to place there are a few other ways to burn extra calories through something called N.E.A.T.
N.E.A.T. stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis which basically means burning calories doing anything outside of planned exercise and getting around. The amount of calories burned from N.E.A.T. is not usually significant day-to-day but over a period of weeks and months it can add up to pounds of additional fat loss.
Think about it this way: if you can burn a measly 115 calories more per day that’s an extra pound of FAT every single month.
Remember what a pound of fat looks like?
10 ways to burn more calories with little effort through N.E.A.T:
#10 Standing vs. Sitting
Some studies have shown that standing up while working versus sitting can burn up to 2x the amount of calories per hour. Stand up desks are also much better for your back, joints and posture if you work at a desk for the majority of the day.
#9 Drinking Cold Water
When your body has to generate heat it burns a massive amount of calories – it does this as a survival mechanism that you can take advantage of. Drinking ice cold water has been shown to slightly increase caloric expenditure due to the thermogenesis (heat production) in the body to keep your body temperature regulated. When you drink cold water or eat cold food it lowers your body temperature and in order to bring it back up to normal your body has to do quite a bit of work which, over time, can add up to a lot of extra calories burned.
You’ve probably heard it a million times before but drink more water! Most people are extremely dehydrated and get nowhere near enough water day-to-day which can contribute to everything from cramps to fatigue.
#8 Get out and move more
Stagger your errands and appointments throughout the day whenever possible to keep you moving. If you work a desk job it can be easy to sit for 5-6+ hours at a time without getting up and moving around at all. Look for any reason you can to get up, out and moving at least a few times a day. My general rule of thumb is to get up at least every hour and move around for at least 5 minutes – even just walking around your house or office for a few minutes is better than sitting!
Doing simple things like tapping your fingers or feet counts as movement and will contribute to N.E.A.T. – keep in mind that any movement at all is always going to be better than sitting still.
Most people are surprised when they learn how many calories cleaning can burn in an hour. All that moving and shuffling around is a great way to burn extra fat and gives you an excuse to keep your house/apartment nice and tidy.
#5 Move more
You don’t have to get fancy to take advantage of N.E.A.T. – simply walking more will burn extra calories. Give yourself reasons to get up and move during the day as much as you can, especially if you sit at a desk for the majority of your day. The best part about N.E.A.T. is that it only takes a lot of small changes to add up to big caloric expenditure: try simple things like parking a little further away at the grocery store and taking the stairs whenever possible.
#4 Challenge yourself
If you find it difficult to add in more simple exercise and movement throughout the day try getting a pedometer and keeping track of how much you’re moving. When we have some sort of baseline to “beat” it turns extra exercise into a game where you constantly try to raise the bar and beat your previous day – this can be a great way to break through to the next level of fitness and health.
#3 Chewing gum
Chewing gum involves moving your jaw constantly which results in calorie expenditure. You might be thinking: how many calories can chewing gum really burn? A report by the Mayo Clinic found that chewing gum can burn around 11 calories per hour – this may not seem like a lot but simply chewing gum every day for 4 hours would equal roughly 308 calories burned at the end of the week and 1,232 every month or roughly 1/3 of a pound.
Chewing gum has also been shown to effectively eliminate cravings and reduce overeating, that means you’re not only burning calories by chewing gum but you’re also eating less because of it. Make sure you’re chewing sugar free gum so you aren’t adding too many calories back in from the gum itself!
You might already do this one – next time you’re on the phone try pacing back and forth if it’s not too distracting. Pacing around your office/house/etc during a 1-hour phone call can burn a ton of calories over time and help reach your fitness goals faster.
#1 Sitting on an exercise ball
Not only is sitting on an exercise ball better for your back and posture – it also helps burn more calories throughout the day because you have to constantly stabilize yourself where a chair is normally doing all the work. Using an exercise ball to sit on may seem awkward at first but once you get the hang of it you’ll never go back!
So there it is – 10 different ways to burn calories with virtually no additional effort on your part! N.E.A.T. can be a great way to increase daily calorie burn without putting yourself through extra grueling workouts or taking up a bunch of your time. Try incorporating a few of these into your daily routine and before you know it you won’t even think about doing them.
What are some of your other favorite forms of N.E.A.T.? Let me know in the comments below!