This is NEAT!

February 9, 2011 in Blog Recipes, Fitness, Weight Management by Mary Ireland

The USDA has a tool to help you create a personalized food pyramid. The tool calculates how many calories you need each day and provides serving sizes for each of the 5 food groups: Grains, Vegetables, Fruit, Milk and Meat and Beans.

I used the tool to compare the number of calories needed by “a me” who exercised 30 - 60 minutes daily to ”a me” who exercises less than 30 minutes daily. The results were a 200 calorie swing: an exercising me can eat 1800 calories a day, a non-exercising me can eat 1600. Note that the site states that the information provided is an average and cautions if you may need to adjust the serving sizes if you are experiencing unwanted weight gain or weight loss. Based on the numbers reported in the Dietary Guidelines for 2010 (see Sugar Time), my guess is that most Americans will be looking to reduce weight.

Now wait, that isn’t neat part. What is really neat is a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic on Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). The researchers studied how calories are burned during the activities of daily living and the relationship to obesity. It turns out there is a big relationship. The study found that people can burn up to 350 calories a day, not by exercising, but by just moving around.

It seems that thin people have a biological need to move around after eating a large number of calories; whereas obese and overweight people have a biological need to sit after eating a large meal. The study found that obese people sit an average of 150 minutes (that's 2.5 hours) more a day than thin people. In the real world, a lot of the sitting may be a constraint of their work and not so much a biological need. Regardless of the cause, NEAT is why all of the tips about parking your car far away, using the stairs instead of the elevator and other such tips work – you are increasing your amount of NEAT.

Getting up on your feet and moving is the best way to increase NEAT, but you can also increase it while sitting – this is referred to as fidgeting. You can do things such as shake your leg, scrunch your toes, and use your hands to gesture -- any sort of movement. You will get the biggest thermogenesis from standing up, moving and fidgeting, but if you cannot do that, try any kind of movement while sitting.

If you increased your movement and burned an additional 100 calories a day, at the end of a year you will have made a 10.5-pound difference. Not bad for sneaking a little extra movement into your daily routine. Be creative in finding ways to move -- lift and lower your hands over your head while you are sitting at a red light; contract and release your abdominal muscles while you are standing in line; and straighten your legs one at a time while you are sitting at your desk or on the couch. See for more ways to burn calories through thermogenesis. The key is to become more aware of what you are doing in the moment and utilize that moment to move.

If you really want to increase results you can add movements that will add muscle. Increasing muscle mass can increase your resting metabolic rate. A pound of muscle uses 6 calories a day to sustain itself whereas a pound of fat uses only two. If you convert 10 pounds of fat into 10 pounds of muscle, not only will you look trimmer at the same weight, you will also burn and additional 14,600 calories a year. That’s 4.25 pounds.

How do you add muscle mass? Usually by doing resistance training. In resistance training, it is important that you have the correct form. Check out exercise video clips on Youtube such as Weight Lifting/Training Exercises to Tone Arms, Workout Biceps, Triceps, Chest & Shoulder Muscles , Standing Stomach/Abs Workout Exercise Routine with Oblique Punching for Small Waist, and Beginner Lower Body Workout Vol. 1.MP4. There are hundreds of exercise video clips on Youtube; search around and find exercises that will work for you. Netflix or your local video store will have exercise videos too. Pick out movements that you like and incorporate them whenever you can. Lower body movements are going to increase the number of calories burned. Remember to start gently. Once you work up to doing more resistance, you should incorporate a warm up and cool down.

Another way to capitalize on your movement, is to increase the intensity. In my blog, Getting More from Less, I talk about the benefits of upping the intensity level of your workouts. You can apply the same techniques to your thermogenesis movements. Inserting four to six short bursts of intensity are effective. Remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise if you are currently not exercising. Start slowly: you will be better off consistently incorporating a little movement than overdoing it and having to take six weeks off to heal.

Another simple thing you can do to increase calorie burning is to be fully hydrated. Your metabolism slows down even if you are only mildly dehydrated. Drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water a day is a good way to stay hydrated. You can substitute a beverage such as unsweetened tea for water. Eating water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables is also a nutritious way to stay hydrated. Avoid drinking juices; they are high in calories and don’t contain the fiber of whole fruits and vegetables. The fiber in fruits and vegetables helps slow down absorption of sugars, therefore preventing spikes in blood sugar. As Dr. Grandma states in Water, A Secret Weight-Loss Weapon, studies show that drinking two cups of water before a meal reduces the number of calories consumed during the meal.

If you are really serious about seeing changes, read Dr. Grandma’s Trading-Up to Healthy Foods instead of Dieting. Dr Grandma’s provides healthy, whole-grain products that taste great, are nutritious and satisfy your hunger. Dr. Grandma’s Delight is also an excellent way to satisfy your sweet tooth without sending your blood sugar skyrocketing.

Stay turned for more neat ideas and great tasting recipes like the Delightful Flourless Orange Cake below.

Delightful Flourless Orange Cake


2 whole oranges with peel
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups Dr. Grandma's Delight
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups finely ground almonds (almond meal)


Place the oranges in a large saucepan, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 hours over medium heat. Check occasionally to make sure they do not boil dry.

Allow the oranges to cool, then cut them open and remove the
seeds. Process the oranges -- including the peel -- in a blender or food processor to a coarse pulp.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch
round cake pan. I use parchment paper on the bottom.

In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar together using an electric mixer until thick and
pale, about 10 minutes.

Mix in baking powder.

Stir in the pureed oranges.

Gently fold in almond meal. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 55 minutes, or until a small knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan. Tap out onto a serving plate when cool.

Wash and dry two large oranges.

Put in sauce pan. Cover with water and boil for 2 hours.

Remove seeds and puree oranges in blender or food processor.

Beat eggs and Delight until thick and pale.

Stir in baking powder

Stir in oranges.

Gently fold in almond meal.

Pour mixture into a greased and floured cake pan.

It's done when a small knife inserted in the center comes out clean.