Why Exercise Isn't As Effective As Dieting For Weight Loss

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Why exercise isn’t as effective at helping your lose weight.

For starters, experts say that very few people stick to a routine of exercising every day. In addition, this study found that more exercise isn’t associated with greater weight loss (in part because all that exercise makes you hungry, so you might be eating many of the calories you burn in the gym).

On the days that people do exercise, they often unconsciously do less physical activity to compensate for the exertion, research has found. They spent less time doing household chores, walking, and shopping. Though they typically burned more calories on the days they exercised, the total was half of what would be expected because of the decrease in other activities.

Finally, the exercise you do in the gym only accounts for 10 to 30 percent of the calories that your body burns each day, Alexxai Kravitz a neuroscientist and obesity researcher at the National Institutes of Health says. The rest of the calories are burned by essential functions like breathing and digestion, which you have no control over.

Why focusing on food is more efficient.

Although we have relatively little control over the amount of calories our bodies burn in a day, we have total control over how many calories we take in, since the only source of calories are the foods and drinks that we consume. Because of this, it’s easier for many people to focus on reducing calories they consume rather than focusing on burning more calories.

Americans get up to 60 percent of their caloric intake from ultra-processed foods, which are usually high in sugar. Eliminating these foods can easily help you create a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss. In fact, the connection between limiting sugar consumption and weight loss is so strong that a study in the British Medical Journal concluded “intake of free sugars or sugar sweetened beverages is a determinant of body weight.”

The point of all this eating vs. exercise talk is not to leave you fearing food. We need food to survive, and not eating enough calories can actually hinder your results. But, the food choices you make are going to determine the numbers on the scale – that’s the truth.

Want to make sure you’ve got got it in check so that you can start seeing some big results? Here are 3 golden rules I use with my clients:

#1. Pass On The Packaged Foods

If you’re eating something from a box, jar, or can there’s a high likelihood that it’s high in calories, low in nutritional value. Do your best to limit these foods to 20% of your diet - and 80% to whole nutritious foods.

#2. Eat a LOT More Veggies

Vegetables should be the basis for every meal you eat. You cannot find another type of food that offers such amazing nutritional value at such a low calorie count.

#3. Plan To Indulge

I don’t expect you (or myself!) to eat perfectly all the time. But, it is VERY important to plan for those “cheat” snacks/meals/days so that they don’t become the norm and don’t “just happen” when you let your guard down.

All in all, exercise is not the best weight management strategy. You cannot out-exercise a broken diet. 

Focus on fixing your diet first, then incorporate exercise.

Have a great week Warrior!