The magic formula for weight loss has always been a healthy diet and exercise. If you ask some doctors the best way to lose weight, they’re likely to tell you to eat less and exercise more. While that basic rule still rings true, recent research has proven that diet and exercise don’t play equal roles in weight loss. Studies point to the diet being a bigger factor in weight loss, but exercise remains important. Below are some important things you should know about exercising for weight loss.
Exercise Alone Is Not Enough
The basic goal of any weight loss program is to create a calorie deficit in which the body burns more calories than it receives from the foods you eat. Recent studies have proven that while exercise plays an important role in weight loss, altering your diet to consume fewer calories is more effective than burning calories with exercise. That means if you want to lose weight, you can’t rely on high-intensity workouts to burn off excess calories without altering your diet. But don’t take that as a sign to ignore exercise as part of a weight loss program. As you’ll see down the list, exercise still plays an important part in weight loss.
Emphasize Losing Fat Over Losing Pounds
Exercise may not be enough on its own to significantly reduce weight, but the part it plays in the type of weight the body loses is crucial. Losing weight solely through diet may result in losing muscle mass as well as fat. A 2014 article published in Obesity Review states that a quarter of weight loss lean tissue. Including exercise in your weight loss plan reduces how much muscle mass you lose. Think of exercise as a way to lose fat and build muscle rather than a way to drop pounds. Having more lean muscle mass may also benefit your metabolism.
Choose Exercises With Prolonged Calorie-Burning Effects
When people think about exercising to lose weight, their mind might automatically think of cardiovascular exercise. Cardio does burn more calories during the actual workout, but other workouts may have more lasting metabolic benefits. Anaerobic exercises have prolonged calorie-burning benefits, with post-workout calorie burn lasting for hours or days. The longer the afterburn lasts, the more effective the exercise is for weight loss. Exercises that are good for calorie-burning include:
- Jumping rope
- Running uphill
- Cycling intervals
- Stair climbing
- Strength training
- Weight training circuits
- Vinyasa flow yoga
Beware of Compensatory Behaviors
Some people think they can have an intense work out to offset a treat afterward. Don’t fall into that trap. Not only is it counterintuitive to why you’re exercising in the first place, but most people also overestimate how many calories they have burned during a workout and/or underestimate the calories in the food they “earned.” Some people also experience increased appetite after workouts, leading them to eat more than normal. If this happens to you, be prepared with something healthy to eat afterward. The fact that you’ve exercised shouldn’t be an excuse for you to be lazy about other daily physical activities. These are called compensatory behaviors and should be avoided.
Focus on Overall Health Benefits
One of the most important reasons to incorporate physical activity into your routine is that it improves your overall health. If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are good that at least one motivating factor is getting healthier. Regular exercise can aid in healthy weight loss, and it can also lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. It also improves mental health and can help you manage stress. The better your overall health is, the more likely you are to successfully lose weight and keep it off.
At Total Healthcare MD, we know that there isn’t a single weight loss program that works for everyone. That’s why we customize plans to fit patients’ unique needs and goals. To find out more about how personalized medical weight loss can help you finally get results, call our Cary, NC clinic at (919) 436-3777 to make an appointment.