You have to exercise to lose weight, right? It’s something we hear throughout our lives, but is exercise the main ingredient in an effective weight loss strategy?
Weight loss may feel like a complicated process, but it is really just a numbers game – one that is more about daily calorie intake than exercise. Your body burns just so many calories a day, and if you eat less than that amount, you will lose weight. The question is where does exercise fit into that equation and how many calories do you need?
Calories are energy, and you expend energy in three ways:
You don’t have much control over energy expenditure, so you have to focus on what you can control – calorie intake. Your body uses calories as fuel, but when there are too many, it saves them as fat in case you need them some other time. It is a protective measure to keep you from starving.
By changing your calorie intake, you can change how you look and feel. The simple fact is if you eat more than your body burns, you will gain weight, but the reverse is true, as well. If you eat fewer calories than you need, your body will turn saved fat back into energy to make up the difference.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes 3,500 calories to make one pound of fat. When you burn 3,500 calories, you lose one pound of fat. For most people, cutting out 500 calories per day will mean you lose will lose one pound a week without exercise. If you burn 500 calories a day at the gym, though, there is no guarantee you will lose that pound without changing your diet.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to cut 500 calories a day out of your diet. Start with the little things:
Does cutting calories mean you can’t enjoy the occasional candy bar or rich pasta dish from your favorite restaurant?
The 80/20 Diet is a system created by chef and nutritionist Teresa Cutter. The concept is simple. You eat healthy nutritious calorie-conscious food 80 percent of the time and treat yourself without going crazy the remaining 20 percent. You can still eat some of your favorite foods and even sneak in the occasional candy bar as long as you stay on track 80 percent of the time.
Even though you can lose weight without exercise, the best weight loss plans promote both calorie counting and exercise for success. Exercising brings more to the table than just burning a few calories, too, especially for older women. For instance:
All that, and you can burn a few extra calories, too. There are some things you need to keep in mind about exercise, though:
There is little doubt that exercise is necessary for good health. There is some question, though, about whether it is essential for weight loss. People do seem to exercise more these day, but still, almost 40 percent of the population is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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