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Fat Loss, Cardio

What is NEAT and How do You Use it to Lose Weight?

By Joe Talarico on Jun 3, 2024 9:00:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time

NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, refers to all unplanned exercise activity. This is the movement you do throughout the rest of your day (walking, fidgeting, standing, etc). This can become a useful tool for burning calories because it opens up the perspective from thinking of losing weight as just cardio (or time spent in the gym). It can also lead to a better, more sustainable approach for people looking to get themselves healthy or lose weight, without having to spend all their time in the gym. It ultimately creates balance.

Increase Step Count

One of the first things you can do is increase step count. While 10,000 seems to be the common goal, let’s make more fine-tuned adjustments. Find out what your average step count is. Most of our phones already track steps, and if not, you can get a very cheap step counting watch to start getting the average. From there, let’s start by adding 2,000 steps. The reason for this is, if you find you only walk 3,000 steps a day, jumping to 10,000 is totally unrealistic. If you keep trying to force yourself to walk more than 3x your normal step count right out of the gate, you may find yourself frustrated because you aren’t hitting your goal. Instead of making things harder, let’s just work smarter. Shoot for 5,000 steps, and keep at it at that until it becomes second nature. When you feel you can hit it without thinking about it, then add 2,000 more. Keep going till you get to 10,000 (or whatever your top goal is), and then reassess. Choose a range that gets you moving more but isn’t so high you can’t see yourself doing it six months from now.

Finds Ways to Increase Movement

If you aren’t a big gym goer, think more outside the box. Do you like sports? Go play pickleball or basketball at your local gym. Find time to run around with the kids. Go for 10-minute walks at work where you can take calls, or after each meal. These are all ways where you can break up periods of sitting with active movement. Adding steps isn’t just about losing weight but about creating a more active lifestyle.

If Weight Loss is Your Goal

If you are trying to lose weight, you are essentially going to keep adding 2,000 steps (along with a diet that puts you in a caloric deficit), until you hit your goal. Try as best as you can to find ways to move throughout the day. If you ever hit a point that your step count is too hard to achieve through normal daily activities, then I would recommend adding cardio or HIIT at the gym. Use it as a tool to supplement getting in the remainder of your steps rather than the foundation for losing weight. This will allow you to have a better understanding of yourself and your own health and wellness beyond the fat loss goal. Even when you are done, you should be thinking about ways you can keep your NEAT up in your daily life. It’s not just beneficial for weight loss, but even better for your heart health and building up your cardiovascular system.

Resistance Training

Make sure you are also lifting weights 2-3 times a week. It doesn’t have to be much, but you want to make sure you are hitting all muscle groups a couple times a week to maintain or even grow muscle as you continue to lose body fat. Cardio is great for shedding fat, but it’ll also shed hard earned muscle, unless you send an external stimulus to keep the muscle you have.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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