How To Increase Your Metabolism: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

This post will help you understand metabolism better, and how to increase your metabolism to burn more energy throughout the day!

Lacey standing on a cliff on a hike

I’ve met so many people that asked me the same question “I’m eating healthy, but how come I’m not losing weight fast enough?”

It’s frustrating, I get it.

But the hard truth is that our metabolism slows as we age. And sometimes we think we know how to reset it but we really don’t, believe me.

If you’re puzzled as to why you can’t seem to shake off the pounds as quick as before chances are your metabolism is slowing down.

But, not to worry! Read on and I’ll give you helpful ways on how you can kickstart your metabolism again. It’s not a walk in the park, but at least you know where to start right?

How to increase metabolism for weight loss

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the rate at which your body expends energy (or burns calories).

Our bodies use this energy to do literally everything, from growing, thinking, eating, and dancing!  And the younger you are, the faster your metabolism is.

Why Is My Metabolism Slow?

There are different causes as to why your metabolism is slowing down.

Well the good news is this: it’s not just because of “old age”.  It’s way way more complicated than that!

Just to reassure you, here some factors that will affect your metabolic rate:

  • Age
  • Muscle mass
  • Body size and composition
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Dieting history
  • Physical Activity

There are multiple factors that affect your metabolism. So if you keep blaming your age, you are only setting yourself up to failure because at the end of the day you can’t change your age. 

Image of Lacey getting steps

How Do I Increase My Metabolism?

If there’s a will, then there’s a way for you to regain your metabolism.  No two people are the same, but here are some tried and tested tips that you can easily adapt to your lifestyle.

  • Spice up your dishes: I do love my spices (even if Dustin doesn’t! haha) but adding a spicy kick to your food will not only awaken your taste buds but also your metabolism. Studies show that spices like cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, peppers, and chilis and increase your metabolic resting rate and suppress your appetite.
  • Drink more cold water: I might sound like a broken record but what did I say about keeping hydrated? But this time, to boost your metabolism, studies suggest that you drink cold water because your body uses up energy to heat up your temperature.
  • Eat more plant protein: Did you know that plant protein has a greater thermic effect than carbs and fat? Legumes, lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, and peanuts have metabolism-boosting benefits that require your body to burn more calories compared to regular protein.
  • Build muscle: Of course, I’m going to suggest this! As a lifter, I really noticed how when I started lifting and building muscle I noticed that it increased my metabolism.  So start lifting!  Here’s how to get started!
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: Say what now Lacey? Patience is key, I’ll be explaining this shortly!

How To Increase Your Metabolism: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Does Metabolism Matter For Weight Loss?

Yes and no. While a faster metabolism means that you do burn more calories, it still depends on your calorie intake and calorie expenditure.

That means, if you’re eating 5,000 calories a day with little to no physical activities even with a fast metabolism I don’t think it will keep you from gaining some pounds.

The best way to ensure fat loss is to control your macros and calories and make sure that number is smaller than your calorie expenditure for the day. But whatever exercise you choose for your journey, remember that you have to push yourself in order to get results.  Think of taking a walk as a way to tell your body it needs to keep working, and to be expecting more work so it can’t slow down it’s metabolism yet.

On average…

  • relatively inactive: 3000 – 4000 steps per day
  • relatively active: 7500 – 9999 steps per day
  • very active: 12,500+ steps per day

(For reference, there are approx. 2000 steps in a mile)

Image of Lacey working out in gym

What Is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis?

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or commonly known as NEAT is the calories you burn by movements on a daily basis. Examples of NEAT activities are cooking ( yes, now you know why I’m cooking all the time!), cleaning, shopping or even playing a musical instrument.

Because NEAT makes up the majority of the calories we are able to intentionally burn on a daily basis. We often focus so much on our workouts, which are helpful and important for building muscle and heart health BUT we don’t really think about the rest of the day, and how our bodies are still burning energy even after we stop exercising. 

So, if we increase our NEAT, we increase our metabolism, and that means good things for fat burning, weight loss, and overall health.

Studies show that although it varies from person to person, calories burned from NEAT can go up to 2000 kilocalories per day.  But remember that people have different lifestyles, so your job, the place you live in, the transportation system are all factors to your NEAT.

But don’t get me wrong, NEAT is definitely a way for you to keep healthy and to manage your weight at the same time.

Image of Lacey's watch showing daily steps

What Are Some NEAT Activities?

There are many ways to incorporate NEAT activities in your lifestyle. Whether you’re a couch potato or like me who loves to keep on moving here are some you might want to add, you never know but you just don’t know it but you might already be doing some of them!

  • Daily steps: Yes! This crowd-favorite is definitely a NEAT activity that you should add to your daily schedule. In fact, the U.S Department of Health has been encouraging people to at least do 10,000 steps daily.
  • Dancing: Moving to the beat of your favorite tune is always a good idea! You can even dance while doing your chores. I’ve done it before and I swear it made washing the dishes way more fun now! So turn on some music and let it add the extra pep to your step as you do your NEAT activities.
  • Playing with your kids: There’s no better workout than spending time with your kids.  If only I could tell you how much running around Dustin and I did when the kids were much younger! Boy, we would really sweat it out.
  • Take the stairs: If you don’t have bad knees, I highly suggest you take the stairs. This old saying still rings true! So skip the elevator unless you live on the 25th floor and keep your legs moving and take the stairs.
  • Stand while working:  A lot of people are working from home at the moment ( me, included), and sitting in front of your computer can do quite the damage not only to your back but also to your caloric output. So instead of sitting down, prop your laptop on an elevated area that way you increase your resting heart rate and burn more calories at the same time.
  • Carry your groceries home: I always say this “If its walkable without the groceries, then it’s still walkable with them.” Carry your groceries that way you get strength training done and errands too!

How Many Steps Should I be Walking?

The number of steps to aim for in a day should be based on your goals, but the best bet is to just start tracking, and just do more than you had been doing by increasing your general movement throughout the day.   

Personally, I aim for 8-10k steps each day, and I use my Apple Watch to track, but there are a ton of free and paid pedometer apps and watches out there.

More Related Posts on How To Lose Weight

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

3 thoughts on “How To Increase Your Metabolism: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

    1. Good afternoon, Deb! Thank you for your comment. I’m Lacey’s blog moderator and can help you with this. Macros, as Lacey explains, are an abbreviation for macronutrients. And they are based on carbs, protein, and fat. She has an excellent blog all about Marcos (and how to calculate your own) here: https://www.asweetpeachef.com/how-to-calculate-macros/

      I hope this helps! -Jen

  1. Lacey, I find your articles really helpful. I have an autoimmune condition and my wife has heart issues. You have taught me more then the three dieticians I spoke to last year. I appreciate your help so much and will follow you in the future.

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