When it comes to weight loss, the dilemma about what is better diet or exercise is alive. People often claim weight loss due to dieting ("tummy is lost in the kitchen”) while others claim that exercise is complementary for tuning muscles and give last touches into getting fit (“a six pack is built in the gym”).
But what is really better?
The truth is that for an effective and lasting weight loss we need both: cutting calories from diet and making smart food choices and, at the same time, we need to burn calories from workout in order to boost metabolism. However, the amount of exercise we need is still an open question. However, recent studies show that sweating can help to reach weight loss goals. While longer sweat workout sessions can be helpful, minding about nutrition also matters.
As a general rule, weight loss is achieved by 75% dieting and 25% exercising. Studies show that biggest short-term results are due to smart eating choices. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds, while exercisers lost only 6 over 21 weeks. The reason is that it is much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food quesadilla (~500 calories) you will need to run a few miles to be able to burn it all.
so, what should we eat?
Low-carb diets tend to be more popular because they have faster results, but they can be difficult to maintain. Better go for a balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs.
Mind the calories
Keep this in mind: Eating 500 calories is a lot more easy/faster than burning them. By evolution, our body is designed to eat when we are in a calorie deficit, so we all must get enough motivation not to undo what you have achieved during the day and practice a mindful and healthy eating.
And importantly, never cut calories too low because this will cause your metabolism to slow, and you will start losing muscles. For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight (i.e. a 150-pound person should go for a 1500 calorie target). This way, you should be able to lose weight no matter how much you exercise.
Let's do some maths: in order to lose 1 pound of fat a week, we will need to burn 3500 calories more a week than we consume. If we want to rely only on exercise, without diet, and we want to work out 5 days a week, we will end up burning ~700 calories each time, which can be way way to much for a beginner and even for a regular exerciser. Furthermore, measurements depend on factors such as gender and weight.
So best approach is to combine exercise with smart nutrition. We can also lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is a very important component and make things easier and faster. Since working out stimulates growth of metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you are burning mostly fat. While numbers on the scale may not be impressive, because muscle takes up less space than fat, we will look smaller and our clothes will fit better. Studies show that to lose weight with exercise and keep it off in a long run, we do not need to become marathon experts. We only need 5-7 workouts of 50 minutes a week at a moderate intensity, like for example brisk walking or calisthenics.
And more importantly, keep in mind that exercise has many other health advantages such as: improve the quality of your sleep, lowering your cholesterol and reducing your stress level.
Do not quit!
In summary, any amount of exercise can help weight loss if you really care about what you eat. For a successful start, here are the final tips: mind food portions, stick regular eating and exercise schedules and do never ever quit!!!.
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