Regardless the context or who used the word, I will ALWAYS think of my Uncle Dean-O when I hear the word “neat.”

It’s his word, and it makes me giggle a little thinking about all the times we’d show him something ridiculous as a kid and he’d act just as excited as us and say “NEAT-O!”

Now, I don’t really use the word “neat” in the same context.

It means something MUCH different to me as a fitness and nutrition coach.

As a result, I probably use the word “neat” now more than the average 27-year-old female.

In traditional American language, the word “neat” is used to describe something arranged in an orderly way or an act performed with skill or efficiency.

In American slang terms, the word “neat” is used to describe something that’s impressive, cool, or great.

In the fitness and nutrition world, NEAT is an acronym.  It stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

What Is NEAT?

Well, I told you what it stood for, but that doesn’t REALLY help you understand what it IS…

NEAT is the energy you expend through NON exercise or sport-related activity.  It’s a VERY critical factor in weight and body fat, but it’s something that varies greatly from person to person as it’s dependent on one’s lifestyle, environment, and genetics.

Here are activities that would contribute to NEAT:

  • Fidgeting
  • Walking
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Shopping or Running Errands
  • Playing an Instrument
  • Family Activities

NEAT doesn’t ONLY contribute to weight and body fat..

In fact, research suggests a higher NEAT decrease one’s risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular events.


Because NEAT has grown in popularity in the fitness and health industry, it’s come to be a little misunderstood…

Here are some common misconceptions surrounding NEAT:

  • NEAT Alone Is NOT Enough for Serious Fat Loss
  • Recreational Sports Do NOT Contribute to NEAT
  • Sleep Does NOT Contribute to NEAT
  • NEAT Varies Day-to-Day
  • NEAT Does Not Increase or Decrease the Same for Each Individual

Why Is NEAT Important for Fat Loss?

It seems pretty obvious, right?

Burn more calories, lose more body fat, right?

Yes, but I want you to understand MORE than that.

So, if you’ve been around the block in your fitness and nutrition journey you know about the Calories In Vs. Calories Out relationship.

Let’s do a quick recap.

Calories In: Everything you put into your body (food or beverage) that contains calories.

Calories Out: Everything you do that burns calories, such as exercise, breathing, sleeping, or NEAT.

If you want to LOSE body fat, that relationship needs to favor Calories Out.  That means you manipulate the Calories In (eat less), Calories Out (move more), or BOTH.

If you want to GAIN weight/muscle, that relationship needs to favor Calories In.  That means you manipulate the Calories In (eat more), Calories Out (move less or more intelligently), or BOTH.

If you want to MAINTAIN your body weight, that relationship needs to be evenly balanced between Calories In and Calories Out.

Recap done, pretty simple, right?

As you’re here reading this, I’m making the assumption you want to LOSE body fat, so what are you most likely to do?

Eat less and exercise more.

That makes sense – you’re taking less calories in and burning more calories.

But there’s only so much you can do…

You have a family, a job, and A LIFE and can’t spend 24 hours in the gym burning calories through exercise.  (That would also be completely insane…).

That’s where NEAT becomes incredibly valuable!

NEAT increases the amount of calories you burn outside of the gym and throughout your normal day-to-day activities.

Think of it like multi-tasking.

You CANNOT exercise and do your job.

You CANNOT exercise and cook for your children.

You CANNOT exercise and spend time at a family get-together.

(Yes, I hear all of you haters saying “Watch This!” but let’s please just be realistic).

NEAT is just a way of burning more calories in your normal day, which leaves you to consume MORE calories throughout the day (AKA not be so hungry with the risk of blowing your diet at the sight of ANY tempting food items).

And who doesn’t want to eat more??

How Can I Increase NEAT?

Here you are, you want to lose body fat, but you also don’t want to be STARVING and consumed by cravings any longer…

So, how can we increase NEAT?

A little over a year ago I posted a blog about JUST THIS, so here are 12 ways to increase NEAT.

#1 Morning Stretch

#2 Morning Walk

#3 Park Further Away

#4 Take the Stairs

#5 Take the LONG Way

#6 Get Up & Move Every Hour

#7 Midday Walk or Short Workout

#8 Invest in a Standing Desk

#9 Try some Desk Exercises

#10 Walk with the Family, Neighbors, or Friends

#11 Practice Commercial Core#12 Stretch or Foam Roll at Night

#12 Stretch or Foam Roll at Night

If you want all the details or how to TRULY incorporate these into your day, check out the full bog here – 12 Ways to Move More During the Week.

About The Author

Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.