Exercising to lose weight? Here’s why it may not be the BEST strategy.

In a classic study on weight loss, researchers discovered after six months:

  1. People who exercised 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and did NOT change their diet lost two pounds. fit woman running
  2. People who reduced calories below their daily burn lost nearly 20 pounds.
  3. People who exercised AND reduced calories lost 23 pounds.

Why is that the case? Basic human physiology. To lose weight, your body must be forced to use its stored energy (meaning fat). This ONLY happens if you burn more calories than you consume. At my weight, 30 minutes of brisk walking burns about 150 calories. (The more you weigh, the more you burn.) If I do this 5 days a week without changing the number of calories I eat, it will take approximately 23 days to lose one pound. Here’s the math:

  • 3,500 calories are contained in one pound of body fat.  (Approximately 10% of fat tissue is water)
  • 3,500 calories per pound divided by 150 calories per day = 23.3 days.

If you’ve been gaining weight slowly over time, you may not lose anything but you may stop that creeping waistline. To lose one pound a week by just exercising, you’d have to walk for 2 hours, 7 days a week. (Yeah, you have time for that, right?) Compare this to shaving 500 calories from your diet each day. Do this and you’ll lose a pound every week. Add exercise and you’ll lose more, feel better, and get a myriad of other benefits. Bottom line, it’s time consuming to burn a considerable amount of calories through exercise.

If you don’t know how many calories your body burns, how do you know how much to eat? It turns out that most people don’t know. Surveys have shown that fewer than 2 out of 10 people don’t know how many calories they should eat to maintain their weight. And if we judge by results, most people are mismanaging their weight. (Seven out of 10 Americans are overweight or obese.) For the modern lifestyle of sedentary jobs and plentiful food, managing your weight is just like your balancing checkbook. You have to know what’s going in and out in order to avoid overdrafts and bounced checks. If you track your spending and deposit more than you spend, you save money. In the human body, when you put more in compared to what’s going out, you save calories, which turns into fat yet no one intends to become fat. For most people, it happens gradually over time. So to lose those extra pounds, reduce the calories you’re taking in, add exercise to speed up the process and to keep the weight off once you reach your goal. To find out how many calories you burn, take the Free Fitness Profile here www.dotfit.com. Tune in for next week’s blog where I share practical tips for reducing calories WITHOUT feeling hungry or deprived. Yes, it IS possible to lose weight without suffering.  YAY!

— Kat

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