If you’re struggling with a weight problem, you probably already know you need to exercise more to burn fat and unwanted calories. But millions of people put in their time on the treadmill, stationary bike, or get some other form of regular exercise and don’t get the weight loss* results they were expecting. Sound familiar? It’s frustrating to step on the scale after weeks of hard work and have little to show for your efforts. And you have to ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”
Why Exercise Alone Won’t Make You Thin?
If you’re getting at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, you’re not doing anything wrong when it comes to physical activity. But exercise alone won’t make you thin.
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to exercise is a lack of variety and intensity. Many people log the same aerobic exercise routine day after day hoping to lose* belly fat. But if you’re going at a long, slow, steady pace, your body’s metabolism will soon learn to operate at maximum efficiency and learn to burn fewer calories to complete the same exercise routine over and over again. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 34,000 people found that walking three miles in an hour each day was an effective way to help prevent weight gain. But it wasn’t vigorous enough exercise to promote weight loss*.
Even if you are exercising the recommended 30 to 60 minutes a day by the American College of Sports Medicine, you won’t see the numbers on the scale drop if your diet is a mess. You can easily pack away 2,000 calories in a single fast food meal that includes a hamburger, French fries, and a soft drink in a few minutes. But it takes hours of exercise to burn that many calories. If you don’t have a good handle on your diet, your exercise efforts may not match up with your daily calorie intake.
The same workout day after day with an I-can-eat-whatever-I-want diet plan are the main reasons exercise alone may not help you lose* weight. Exercise is an important part of any weight loss* plan, but the best fat loss results are achieved when you combine regular exercise and a healthy diet.
The Role of Dieting
You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” And it’s true. If you eat a lot of high-fat foods like French fries, whole milk and cream, butter, cheese, red meat, and many processed foods, you’re more likely to gain weight and increase* your risk for chronic diseases. In fact poor eating habits and lack of exercise are the primary reasons nearly 70 percent of all adults are overweight or obese in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control* and Prevention.
However, if you take a closer look at your diet and model your eating habits after a proven* plan like the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, the DASH Diet, or ChooseMyPlate.gov, you’ll learn to eat healthier foods that will help you lose* weight. These eating plans are based on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, lean meats, and fish. Adopting a diet like this means you’re eating fewer calories, fewer refined carbohydrates, and more fiber-rich and nutrient-dense foods, just what you need to help you lose* weight.
The Benefits of Relying on Diet to do The Work
You can successfully lose* weight by improving* your diet, even without exercise. The best way to do this is by first, keeping a food diary for about a month. Writing down everything you eat will give you a good picture of what your eating habits look like. This record will help you identify what you might be eating that is preventing you from losing weight. You may also discover times of the day when you’re more likely to overeat or go for unhealthy snacks that can derail your weight loss* efforts.
Once you have a good picture of your eating habits, you can create a new eating plan or diet to follow to help you lose* weight. Counting calories is one dietary approach many people have used to successfully lose* weight. You can use this weight loss* calculator to help you determine how many calories you should eat per day to help you lose* weight. Once you figure this out, you can make sure your daily snacks and meals stay within your recommended daily calorie count. Simply adjusting your diet to eliminate* 500 calories a day will help you lose* about one pound of fat per week.
If you really want to lose* weight, the best approach is to combine regular exercise with a healthy eating plan. Aim to exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, but vary your intensity and type of exercise at least every couple of workouts. Eating a healthy diet is also an important strategy for weight loss*, and combine with regular exercise will help you reach your weight loss* goal.