Being fit and losing weight might sound as easy as, “eat less and exercise more” but it’s often a lot more complicated than that. There are loads of things we can do to improve our health on a daily basis: cut out red meat, avoid fast food, hit the gym every day, moderate alcohol consumption but at the end of the day, we are all bound by our resources, namely our time, budget and energy.
The first thing you need to decide on is your immediate fitness goal, losing weight or building muscle or getting better cardiovascular health. Depending on your goals, you should prioritize dieting over exercise or vice versa, but you should never sacrifice one in favor of the other.
Exercise has a whole host of benefits apart from just helping you lose weight. Extensive studies and medical research has proven that exercise doesn’t just make your body look and function better, it also helps your brain function optimally and keeps your mood and emotions in check. Time and again, it has proven to work even better than antidepressants in this respect.
Exercise also helps the growth of muscle tissue and bone density. Also, all the weight you lose through exercising comes only from burning fat only, and not essential muscle mass.
If you can gain more muscle mass by working out, your metabolic rate shoots up automatically making it all the more easier to lose fat from your body. The idea is not to lose weight but to lose fat.
Exercise will also give you more energy, help you sleep better at night and keep you in a good mood overall.
But no matter how much you work out, if you don’t supplement it with the proper diet and lifestyle, you simply won’t see results.
Along with the proper diet, it shouldn’t be that hard to meet your fitness goals. You don’t need to run marathons. 5 to 7 workouts a week of moderate intensity like brisk walking or Zumba, for a duration of 1 hour should be more than enough. If you can’t put in that much time, remember some exercise is a lot better than no exercise and even a few moderately intense workouts a week can do wonders for your physical and mental wellbeing.
If you want to lose weight, the math behind it is pretty simple. You have to eat fewer calories than you spend every day. The total calories you consume every day should be less than the number of calories you burn.
But this is easier said than done. Our bodies were designed to retain calories because food was hard to come by, back when our ancestors were living in caves, and there were no grocery stores or restaurants.
The problem is, it often takes a tremendous amount of exercise to lose even a small bit of weight. People often overestimate the number of calories they burn working out, while grossly underestimating the number of calories they put on while eating. For example, A 30-minute high-intensity workout will burn between 300 to 400 calories, but you could also cut that same number from your diet by not eating a packet of chips and a soda. If you eat a pizza from a fast food joint, you stand to put on about 500 calories, which would take you miles and miles of running to burn off.
In a survey conducted by the University of Ottawa, people guessed that they burnt three to four times the number of calories that they actually burnt while exercising. They also ate more and consumed more calories when they were asked to consume the equivalent number of calories they thought they burnt off in their workouts.
However, If your goal is simply weight loss, then your diet does matter more than exercise. The figures would stack up somewhere like it’s 75% diet and 25% exercise. Even if you follow a very strict exercise regimen, it’s still very hard to burn off a large number of calories. In short, you can’t ever out-exercise a bad diet.
Understand that the more fat you lose, the more your body’s metabolism slows down to preserve the amount of fat you have left in your body. So, you’re bound to hit a plateau where losing more weight becomes very hard. Having a good amount of muscle mass at this stage will make losing weight for you so much easier as muscles increase body metabolism.
Thus it is imperative to make your fitness routines longer and more intensive over time, all the while keeping your diet constant. A low-carb or a low-fat diet is good for dropping weight, but with a diet like that, you’ll feel lethargic and unable to keep up with your daily exercise routine. Also, you may begin to lose muscle mass.
It’s a good idea to have a balanced diet but in small portions. My suggestion would include lots of fruits and vegetable, whole grain carbs and lean proteins. Also, you tend to immediately feel hungry after a strenuous workout, which might make you eat more. Again the balance of diet and exercise depends entirely on your fitness goals. If weight loss is the only goal, your diet is of primary importance however if you want good overall physical and mental health, include exercising as well.
Remember, you can lose weight in the kitchen, but overall health is gained by exercising.