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burger-n-friesThere’s no doubt that exercise and diet go hand in hand. In order to achieve an optimal lifestyle you must be willing to engage in regular physical activity and eat a nutritional diet. Despite the obvious connection, people still want to know which is more important for weight loss dieting or exercising.

Well there’s one thing for sure, there’s no magic wand that you can wave to make the pounds magically disappear. Nutritionists and doctors advise their patients if they want to see long lasting effects that they must partake in both. However, if you do the research and analyze studies you’ll find that most experts lean towards a calorie reduction. One of the biggest misconceptions in the weight loss game is the belief that you can overeat and burn off the excess calories at the gym – which is entirely untrue.

Nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic Shawn M. Talbott, PHD said, “As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks. It's much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to 'undo' it!”

Planning your meals daily will help you obtain a better grasp on portion control, your food intake and will give you the opportunity to plan your calories better for daily consumption. Look to eat fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. However, be cautious of how low you cut your calories down to because it can affect your muscle mass and reduce the speed of your metabolism. Dr. Talbot recommends individuals to base their calorie count on their weight on a 10 calorie per pound of body weight scale. Therefore a 160 pound individual should intake no more than 1,600 calories daily. This approach will allow you to lose weight no matter how frequently you exercise.

Angela Fitch, director of Medical Weight Loss at the University of Cincinnati Health Weight Loss Center, says that women should be eating around 1,500 calories per day to lose weight and men should only be consuming a little more than that. “It’s so easy to consume large doses of calories when something like a burger and fries can have more than 1,200 calories,” said Fitch. “The only way you’re going to lose weight is to be more mindful of your calories, because we are notoriously poor at estimating how many calories we consume.”

Another huge mistake people make on a regular basis is drinking alcohol and not counting the calories of their adult beverages. “A craft beer can have upwards of 500 calories. It’s easy to drink that in 10 minutes, but it’s not easy to burn off. You have to do two to three hours of walking, or spend more than an hour on the bike,” added Fitch.

eating-saladOnce you have a well balanced diet implemented you’ll find that incorporating exercise is much easier and will help achieve faster results. “People who do 150 minutes of physical activity per week lose more than those who don’t. The most interesting part is that the time is additive,” said Fitch. Therefore it doesn’t matter if you do 5 – 10 minute intervals or choose to knock out your workout routine in one sitting – either way you’ll still reap the same benefits.

Keep a food journal and write out what you eat every day – this also includes what you drink. Do the research and associate the calories with the items you intake and then do the math. Cut out the bagels and muffins and replace them with fresh fruits. Reduce the amount of sugar you’re putting into your coffee or the amount of Starbucks runs you complete on a weekly basis. Also, cut out any other sugary drinks that you regularly consume like juices and soda – opt for water and try drinking the recommend 4 – 5 glasses daily to help keep your body running at its optimal level. Once you’ve got that down you can look to change your cooking methods and ingredients to healthier options.

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