Weight loss boils down to creating a calorie deficit. This can be accomplished by eating fewer calories or by burning more calories through physical activity. It’s often debated whether changing the diet or increasing exercise is the better method, but research supports that long term weight loss is best achieved by using a combination of both. If we rely only on dietary changes or increased exercise to lose weight, problems could arise.
To lose 1 pound, the body must rid itself of 3,500 calories. It is recommended to cut 500 calories each day to lose 1 pound per week. Burning 500 calories per day through exercise requires an intense or lengthy workout that may be too challenging for beginners. This type of exercise benefits the cardiovascular system, but when repeated day in and day out, you risk overuse injuries. Your body needs rest days to recover. A more sustainable approach is to make small changes in your diet that cut 250 calories and set an achievable goal of burning an average of 250 calories per day each week.
When there is a drastic drop in calories, we risk not supplying the body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. It’s recommended that women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories and that men eat no fewer than 1,800 calories. When you attempt to lose weight by slashing calories, it may be necessary to go below these minimums to produce weight loss. Not only can this lead to nutrient deficiencies, but it can leave you hungry and irritable. Make smart food choices and reduce calories with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Don’t reduce total calorie intake below the recommended minimum, and use regular exercise to burn extra calories for weight loss.
No lifestyle change
Whether you cut calories and avoid exercise or work out more than your body can handle, these are short term solutions for weight loss. You may lose a few pounds, but it will be difficult to sustain these activities and keep the weight off. Improving your fitness requires adopting a new lifestyle that is permanent, but flexible. Short-term solutions don’t support lifestyle change. Aim to find healthy foods you enjoy, and reduce portions to cut calories. Explore all types of exercise until you discover something that motivates you. When these activities become part of your daily habits, they feel less like work, and a healthy lifestyle becomes a natural part of your routine.