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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Diet vs Exercise: The Quickest Way to Lose Weight (Plus Printouts)

As you know, I have been regularly exercising for appx ONE HOUR each day for the past six weeks.  Although I have noticed a change in my measurements, I have not noticed a change on the scale.  If you read THIS POST, you know my frustration with this matter.  Oh sure, there have been a few lbs here and there, but nothing significant overall.  This conundrum led me to research which is more important to weight loss: diet or exercise?

Perhaps that is a taboo question to ask since it seems to be common knowledge that BOTH are actually needed, but still, doesn't ONE work BETTER than the OTHER?  Well.... yes, and no. Cutting calories through dietary changes seems to promote weight loss more effectively than does exercise and physical activity. But physical activity also is important in weight control. Then I saw thisThis little sign, caused a LOAD of research and wonder....


The idea behind weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume. Well, DUH!  But how many calories do you HAVE to burn to lose ONE pound? Ok, so,  3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat. (Whaaaat???)  That means, to lose 1 lb/week, YOU need to burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. That equates to approximately 500 calories/day.  That is just to lose 1 pound per week(500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories.) Stay with me here....

Reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 calories can be done in TWO ways: diet or exercise. Burning calories through exercise isn't impossible, but perhaps more inconvenient. For me, I would have to walk for 1 hour and 21 minutes to burn 500 calories.  Someone that weighs 150 lbs would have to walk for 1 hour and 45 minutes to burn 500 calories. Now, all of that seems do-able, but to do that every day could prove to be difficult. I exercise for 60 minutes per day at a moderate to high intensity.  According to myfitnesspal, I burn an average of 250-300 calories per day. So, for most people, that is. That is why it is probably easier to eliminate the 500 calories through diet vs exercise.


To cut the calories via diet, you figure the daily amount of calories that you should have, then reduce it by 500.  There a multiple places online that will figure this for you, but I like myfitnesspal. This website will take your information and goals and then help you log your calories.  For optimal weight loss, make sure that you are getting a well balanced diet as well.  Trust me, you can easily stay under your calories and still not lose weight.

For an idea of how I group my caloric intake (or try to ) check out THR's Nutrition Plan.  I also track my servings using the chart to the right. I just made it, printed it, and framed it.  This chart sits in my kitchen and I use a dry erase marker to mark off the servings. This helps me to visually see where I am "spending" my calories. THR's Nutrition Plan also has a printable food pyramid that is split by calorie percentages.  This is a great way to aid in weight loss.  It also tracks the calories without really tracking the number itself.  For example, for me, 20% of my calorie intake should be from veggies.  That means that I should have 260 calories of veggies per day.  That equals to about 5-6 servings of veggies, depending on what I eat. 10% of my calorie intake should be from dairy.  That equals 130 calories, which is about a cup of milk or a serving of cheese.

So, for my chart, I went off of the serving amounts, wrote in my personal goals, and just cross them off each day. I also have an app called Food Tracker that you can customize and does pretty much the same thing. I use this when I am away from the house.  CLICK HERE to print out a copy for yourself.  (You will also notice that I track my exercise, scripture study and family time. This helps keep balance in my life as well.)


Exercise also is important because it can help you maintain your weight loss. Studies show that people who lose weight and keep it off over the long term get regular physical activity. If you lose weight by crash dieting or by drastically restricting yourself to 400 to 800 calories a day, you're more likely to regain weight quickly, often within six months after you stop dieting. Getting regular exercise also can help prevent excess weight gain in the first place. (Although, I'm pretty sure that no amount of exercise could have stopped the Mexican food weight gain that I experienced when I moved to AZ.)

Cutting calories through dieting is generally more effective for weight loss. But doing both — cutting calories and exercising — can help give you the weight-loss edge. Exercise can help burn off EVEN MORE calories than just dieting alone.


Now, here comes the age old question, DO I EAT BACK THE CALORIES THAT I BURN?  Ok, the REAL answer to this is to look at you total calorie burn that includes your exercise and all other activities. Then subtract your desired deficit, typically 500 calories for a healthy 1 lb/week loss, and then eat that amount. No reason to look at exercise calories any differently than other calories you burn.

According to myfitnesspal, I need to maintain a 1300 calorie diet to lose 2 lbs/week.  That means, that if I eat 1300 calories, then exercise and burn off 200 calories, I need to EAT those calories.

It's true that when you don't eat enough calories, your body will break down stored fat to use as energy. However, when you go off your diet and start to eat normally again, you'll gain all that weight back. This happens because depriving yourself of necessary daily calories puts you in physical "starvation mode." Your body will think that there isn't enough food available and that you're starving. When you go off your diet, your body will store even more fat in reserve against future lean periods. You'll also be more likely to overeat during this period.

To lose weight safely, lose a little at a time; two or three pounds a week is ideal. Don't deprive yourself of food, and eat at least 1,300 calories per day.

1200 calories a day is the bare minimum for an adult female. At that level you would have to be extremely petite and sedentary. That's simply not enough for an active person to lose in a healthy way.


OBVIOUSLY, both eating well AND exercising are needed to lose weight.  HOWEVER, if you only feel like you can focus one ONE or the OTHER, choose DIET.  You will see results faster with that than just exercising. (That explains my problem.  My focus has been on exercise.)


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