By the beginning of each year people think of new resolutions, leaving behind some of the awful moments had in the year before, all the unsuccesses, negative habits, etc., but most likely by the beginning of the year an unintended thing happened: some extra pounds. As a fact on January of each year the most set resolution among Americans specifically is to lose weight.
The correlation between weight loss and a healthy diet, is like how the double sides of the coin can’t be split. To successfully lose the weight, the most attention should be focused on the diet, it’s way more important than exercise itself and by a long shot, it’s not that exercise is useless, but it can get rendered out useless just by a breaking the diet just once.
The nutritionist Lisa Drayer said in this context “It couldn’t be truer. Basically, what I always tell people is, what you omit from your diet is so much more important than how much you exercise.” On a profound level, it means that the calories that come from the food eaten and drinks, only a small portion of those calories are lost through exercise.
Alexxai Kravitz, an investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases a part of the National Institutes of Health explained the three main components to energy expenditure in three bullet points:
- Basal metabolic rate, how much energy your body needs to keep its system running, (blood pumping, lungs breathing, brain functioning)
- Breaking down food, the energy your body uses to breakdown food. Scientifically referred to as “diet-induced thermogenesis”, “specific dynamic action” or the “thermic effect of food”
- And physical activity, workout or just basic day to day activities
The amount of energy the body needs to keep itself running is 60% to 80% of total expanded energy for most people. In a study done by Kravitz that defines these percentages as “the minimal rate of energy expenditure compatible with life”, the older you get the lower the rate goes. However increasing your muscle mass increases it (the energy expenditure) back to what it should be.
The food you eat, burns about 10% of your calories, so roughly 10% to 30% are consumed during all your physical activities including walking, typing a message, fidgeting a spinner or gym exercising).
Unlike professional athletes, the average person burns around 5% to 15% of their daily calories through activities involving physical action, which seems like nothing, but it’s not nearly equal to food intake, which accounts for 100% of the energy intake of the body.
Calculations done by Harvard Medical School, found that a 185 pound person burns 200 calories in 30 minutes of walking at 4 miles per hour (a pace of 15 minutes per mile). And surprisingly he could easily cancel out all that hard work by eating four chocolate chip cookies, 1.5 scoops of ice cream or less than two glasses of wine. It just takes a few minutes to eating a meal, and how time or hours you need to just burn off those few bites of food which is so disproportionate, as Drayer said.
We can see the same equation applies even with professional cyclists, which can burn upwards of 700 calories, can completely cancel it out with just a few mixed drinks or a tasty piece of cake.
From the data above we can conclude that basically after working out it’s just what we ate is what we “earned” so it’s kind of a useless effort if we can just simply save the energy went through working out and instead lower the quantity of food and eating less. There’s a saying that says: Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.
You need to know that not all calories are the same obviously, here is a simple example. Let’s say 3500 calories equal 1 pound of fat. So to lose a pound of fat in a week, all you have to do is focus on losing 500 calories a day. One of the easiest ways to start is by cutting off junk food, including soda which is by itself is a big source of fat, and try to look for a good diet that may help you (I highly recommend you the Keto diet)
“The other thing is that exercise can increase your appetite, especially with prolonged endurance exercise or with weight lifting,” Drayer said. “It’s another reason why I tell people who want to lose weight to really just focus on diet first.”
And remember when it comes to weight loss, always slow and steady wins the race, it sounds cliché but so true. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off.”
“All this is not to say that exercise doesn’t have its place,” Drayer said. “It’s certainly important for building strength and muscle mass and flexibility. It can help to manage diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. It can improve your mood. It can help fight depression. But although exercise can help with weight loss, diet is a much more important lifestyle factor.”