Diet or exercise for weight loss…

Diet or exercise for weight loss…

The answer is both! There is currently and quite rightly a lot of negative press around the diet industry coupled with a backlash against dieting – but the fact remains many of us need to lose weight for health benefits. This is one of the main goals of many of my clients so it seems relevant to touch on the issue here on my first blog.

You can lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is an important component – without it you will lose muscle and bone density from your overall body weight as well as fat. Muscle is denser and more fibrous than fat, as it serves to help support and move your entire body. Since dense muscle tissue takes up less space in your body, the number on the scales may not look as impressive, but you’ll look smaller and your clothes will fit better. Muscle tissue is also more metabolically active than fat meaning the more muscle you gain the more efficiently your body will work (burn calories.)

The good news is to lose weight with exercise and keep it off, you don’t need to run marathons, but you will need to commit to 3-5 sessions a week, ideally including a mixture of cardio and resistance work. Aim for at least 20 minutes of cardio/aerobic exercise and don’t just do isolated weight-lifting exercises, you’ll need to do compound moves working the major muscle groups. If you’re afraid of weights, not a problem! Using your body weight against gravity, as with movements like squats, lunges and push-ups are all effective exercises to build lean muscle.

As a guide, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise, it’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off and most of us tend to underestimate our energy intake and overestimate our energy expenditure! For example, for an intake of 500 calories you’ll need to run an average of more than four miles to ‘undo’ it.

What should you eat to lose weight? I would always recommend a balanced plan that focuses on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grain carbohydrates. And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass). For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight — so a 10 1/2 stone woman should aim for a 1,500-calorie target. Alternatively a deficit of 500 calories a day will roughly equate to a loss of 1lb a week, this is generally considered to be a safe and sustainable approach to long term weight loss.

There’s no magic here, a combination of a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise is the answer to finding and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle and if I could send one message to my younger self it would be ‘You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!’

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