When someone comes to us with the goal of dropping body fat, and improving their physique (which, given my line of work, happens quite a lot), I ask them a series of questions addressing a few key areas that’ll contribute to their success.
I ask them about their nutrition habits (which is covered in more depth here: How To Create The Perfect Weight-Loss Meal)
I ask them about their sleep patterns (covered here: Sleep: The Over-Looked Component Of Weight Loss)
I ask them about their hydration levels (here: Is Water The Secret To Your Weight Loss?)
I ask them about their training (as discussed here: 25 Minute Fat Burning Workout)
And I ask them about their daily movement outside of training.
That last point (which doesn’t already have a link to another blog) is, unsurprisingly, what we’ll be covering today.
And it very well could be the extra missing factor that can kickstart your fat-loss, with relatively little effort.
The calories you expend outside of training sessions is referred to as NEAT: non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
And making a conscious effort to increase the amount of energy you’re expending at rest comes with the following benefits:
- It becomes easier to put yourself into a calorie deficit, which will aid fat loss
- It can help improve your cardiovascular health
- It can help relieve stress, and the various associated health risks
- It can assist in recovery from the training you’re doing
- It will assist in the mobility and strength of various joints
So, how, exactly, do you increase your NEAT?
I could, with a clear conscience, end the blog right there, happy in the knowledge that I’d imparted enough actionable advice to have a positive impact on your health and physique.
But a vague notion that increased movement will spur on fat loss is not setting you up for long term progress. Or short term, for that matter.
You need to make a plan.
Sit down, and look at where you’re remaining overly sedentary. Take stock of your current habits and note where you could easily add in a walk instead of a drive, or opt for a bike ride rather than taking the bus.
One method I’ve found to be quite effective as a barometer of movement progress, is to record your fully stationary hours per day.
The method works as follows:
- When you wake up, start the timer on your phone
- Whenever you walk, or move around, stop the timer
- Start it up again (without reseting) whenever you settle into a chair, or stop expending any calories in excess of sitting and completing low energy tasks
- At the end of the day, take a look at how long you’ve spent sitting down.
Most people are shocked as the number equates for over 70% of their woken hours.
And the hours in bed aren’t exactly mobile!
So, take action, and come up with an actionable plan to change that ratio, and get up onto your feet some more.
A few suggestions are:
- Every lunch break at work, walk to your local cafe to grab a herbal tea or black coffee, instead of simply walking into the break room to make one yourself.*
- Whenever you’re on the phone, find the nearest set of stairs, and climb up and down them as you converse (you might even find the movement helps your mind function a little faster- very helpful for important work calls).
- Whenever you park up at a shopping mall or grocery store, don’t search for a spot nearby. Instead, park as far away as you can, and embrace the extra energy you’ll expend (this is doubly true for when parking at the gym- you drove there to burn calories, remember!).
- Set a ‘get up and move’ alarm on your phone for every 60-90 minutes. When it sounds, get up, stretch your legs, do a lap or two of the office, or even walk up and down the stairs a couple of times.
- Make the time to walk places. People tend to drive if the destination is more than a 10 minute walk. Instead, think of that walk as a productive part of your day.
- When taking public transport, get off a stop or two early and walk the last stretch.
- Begin unloading the washing one item at a time (this is especially useful if you need to traverse some stairs in order to store your clothing).
- Even something like asking your mates to move the Sunday catch up to a pub that’s a little further away and walking there will help (plus if you do drink a little too much, the extra swaying on the walk home will surely result in more steps being taken!)**
*If buying teas or coffees instead of making them will negatively impact your bank balance, there’s no reason you can’t make a tea and go for a 20 minute walk with it, or make one upon returning to the office after your lunchtime stroll.
**No, I’m not suggesting that the extra steps you take on a drunken walk home in any way justifies the boozing 😉
If you haven’t gathered from the above examples, the general key is to allow yourself the time to introduce more movement throughout your day.
Yes, taking a car, making your tea in the break room, or yelling down the stairs to your significant other instead of walking down is easier.
But unsurprisingly, easier? Isn’t the most optimal way to trigger fat loss and physique development.
And if you want another method of tracking your progress?
Any device that counts your steps taken per day is a great investment (as long as you don’t become obsessed with it!)
Either a smartphone or various wrist worn devices all serve to track how many steps you’re taking (assuming, of course, that your phone remains on your person).
The general guidelines for health (and helping to trigger fat-loss) would be to shoot for between 10,000 and 12,000 steps per day.
If you begin and find you’re only getting 2,000?
Don’t suddenly start increasing your activity all in one go.
Instead, set yourself some goals. Maybe an extra 200 steps per day, or going up to around 3,000 in week two, and 4,000 in week three etc.
You can read more about how and when a fitness tracker might be of benefit to you by clicking here: Fitness Trackers – Are They Really Worth It?
Walking, cycling, climbing a few more sets of stairs or even just dancing every time a good song comes on…
It doesn’t seem like it’s going to spark a crazy fat-loss transformation, does it?
And honestly, if you were walking your 10,000 steps a day, but getting 3 hours of sleep a night, drinking half a litre of water a day, consuming twice as many calories as you need and half the amount of protein and never setting foot in a gym?
Then no, it wouldn’t really contribute to much.
But if you are ticking your other boxes?
Or, at the very least, addressing them?
Then increasing your NEAT is a powerful, worthwhile method of improving fat-loss, health and recovery from training, whilst decreasing stress and the negative hormones that go alongside it.
Not bad really, for a little bit of extra walking.
Believe us when we say we completely understand how difficult weight loss can be. The Luke Bremner Fitnessteam have worked with hundreds of clients who initially found weight loss difficult challenging, as you may be now.
If you are currently struggling to lose weight and are unsure where you’re going wrong, perhaps we can help. We appreciate losing weight and improving your health can be overwhelming and confusing. By breaking it down in to simple, actionable steps that are achieveable, we can help, just like we have with the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with – many of whom you can read about here.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.