On paper, eating a little less and working out more makes perfect sense. Many people would say the only reason they work out is so they can eat whatever they want. When it comes to losing weight, people often just add exercise into their lives and start eating a little less. In the short term, that is a fairly effective method. For long-term results and keeping the weight off, however, that “working out more” part is not super realistic, and is actually not very effective.
Recent studies have shown that intensifying an exercise regimen isn’t the best way to go about losing weight.
Let’s say, for example, your goal is to do a 30-minute activity such as swimming or running every day. It is extremely difficult for the average person to keep the intensity of that workout consistent for the full 30 minutes. Therefore, you would have to lengthen the workout, which makes you more tired, which in turn reduces the calorie-burning power of that exercise. Focusing more on what you eat is much easier and less strenuous. Take the previous example of an intense 30-minute-plus workout every day – eliminating the calories you find in a couple of sodas has roughly the same effect.
In addition to the physical commitment exercising requires, it also affects your appetite.
Because you are burning calories faster and putting your body through a lot, it is likely to make you hungrier faster and hungrier for more when you do eat. So, if you have a good workout, but don’t monitor what you eat afterward, you risk eating more calories than you have burned, making that workout obsolete.
When you do eat, whether it’s after a workout or not, counting calories in strict numbers isn’t necessarily the best way to go about it either. Calories affect the human body in more ways than just weight because calories are different depending on where you are getting them from. Calories from “bad” food mess with hormones and metabolism, so even if you are technically eating less, but not eating well, you are unlikely to lose weight. Think about where your calories are coming from and don’t always pick something with the lowest calories. Low calories can also mean low nutrients.
All this isn’t to say that exercise shouldn’t play a role in your weight-loss journey.
Exercise has countless benefits besides burning calories and will make you healthier. Just be realistic about the role it plays in what you want to accomplish, especially since keeping a closer eye on your diet and caloric intake will do just as much good, if not more, when it comes to losing weight. Exercising is important and can go a long way into a healthier you, but it’s not the “end all, be all” some people consider it to be.