We’ve all heard the easy advice of “move more, eat less”, but if you’re trying to lose weight, is it really that simple? When you’re changing your life to try and shed some pounds, what is more important? Diet or exercise? Well they both have their benefits, that’s for sure, but let’s talk about how each of them contribute to a healthy weight loss plan.
It’s really no mystery that you must move your body, to stay healthy. Sitting in front of the TV and doing your weekend routine of “Netflix and chill” is only going to turn into a calorie-fest! You’re going to have to trade in some TV time for some gym time or chill with your yoga mat. So what benefits does exercise have for a weight-loss plan?
First, exercise helps you get healthy like boosting your cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. When you have more muscle mass, this means a higher metabolic rate and your body is burning calories faster. And when you are taking care of your body with an exercise plan, whether at the gym or indoors, this can also be motivation to eat better in general.
Second, when we exercise, the endorphins, or “feel good” hormones are released into our bodies and have so many awesome side effects like:
- Improving appearance
- Increasing sense of well-being
- Decreasing stress
- Reducing depression
When you’re feeling and looking good, you are less likely to indulge in those high fat, high calorie comfort foods that we use to help us feel better. And eating less of these foods over time most definitely leads to weight loss!
But exercising doesn’t give you a license to go out and eat whatever you want. This is one of the reasons people fail to lose weight – they use the new workout as an excuse to have “cheat days” and eat beyond a healthy caloric intake. In one 2010 University of Ottawa study, people overestimated the calories burned during exercise and underestimate the calories in food. On average, people guessed that they’d burned three to four times as many calories as they actually had during a workout. This is why, unless you are an athlete with a rigorous training schedule, you are probably not working out enough to use up the calories from your lunch.
Take this example: when you drink a 20-ounce bottle of soda, it may only take a few minutes to guzzle those 240 calories, but you’d have to walk or run for nearly 2½ miles to burn them off. And it’s highly unlikely that you only had a soda, for lunch, so now you’ve got to keep exercising to work off the rest of your meal!
Hopefully by now if you’ve been reading our blog, you know that calories aren’t just calories. The calories from a can of sugary soda aren’t the same as getting calories from a handful of strawberries. The calories in the soda have a high concentration of corn syrup and other artificial ingredients that will not only sabotage your weight loss goals, but could have other negative health effects. Having those berries, on the other hand, provide your body with natural sugar along with antioxidants that help your body fight diseases and illness, while keeping you full! So you’ve got to watch your diet to lose weight.
There’s really no way around it, but you must eat less calories and fat if you are going to lose weight. So how do you do that, you ask? If you aren’t a natural calorie counter, use an app to help you track your food choices and see what you are actually eating, not what you think you are eating. Studies show that people who use apps for weight loss and fitness are much more likely to lose weight because seeing the raw data is an eye-opener to what they are really eating and how much it’s impacting their diet plans.
What’s the verdict?
So what’s it gonna be, diet or exercise? Well if you are really committed to losing weight, you are definitely going to have to cut calories since it’s highly unlikely that most of us will exercise enough to shave off pounds. But cutting calories doesn’t have to be hard. You can use some of these tips here, or try our healthy recipes on our blog. Whatever you do, make a plan and stick to it and watch yourself look and feel better the healthy way!