The age-old question: Do I need to work out to lose weight? The simple answer: Not really. However, the journey towards weight loss is a little more complex than that and cannot (should not) be cracked in a single sentence.
It is true that the best way to lose weight is a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Let's say your aim is to lose one pound of weight each week (anything higher than that can be extreme and should only be done under expert supervision). 1 lb = 3,500 calories. Therefore, you'll need to eliminate 500 calories each day to reach your goals.
This can be achieved through diet, exercise, or a combination of both. While people who are active and enjoying moving their body can take advantage of this to shed some extra pounds, people who don't like to work out aren't at a significant disadvantage either. However, you will need to have a disciplined diet to ensure optimal weight loss.
The Relationship Between Food and Weight Loss
When it comes to losing weight, diet is much more important than exercise. A study by the researchers at Loyola University Health System in 2009 showed that diet was the key to losing weight fast and more efficiently – not exercise.
This also confirmed an earlier finding from 2000. A study published in Exercise and Sports Science Reviews found that people who followed a diet program lost up to 18.5 lbs, while people who only exercised lost 1.3 lbs in the same period of time. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that diet is a crucial part of your weight loss journey.
Losing Weight Through Diet
Contrary to popular belief, dieting should not feel like punishment. Eating healthy does not mean eating bland and boring food. The important thing is that you need to create a calorie deficit. Depending on your age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and other factors, your body requires a certain amount of calories to maintain your current weight. By calculating how many calories you need, you can better understand how many calories you need to cut down to reduce noticeable weight.
For example, A 25-year old female who's height is 5'6" and weighs 165 pounds. If she participates in moderate exercise 4 to 5 times a week, she'll need about 2,200 calories to maintain her current weight. In order to lose one pound per week, she'll need to cut down her daily intake to about 1,700 calories.
When you have a better idea about how many calories you need to take to lose weight, you can make better dietary choices.
Is it Important to Eat Specific Foods to Lose weight?
Practically speaking, you can consume these 1,700 calories from burgers and soda and still experience weight loss. However, as you may already know, this isn't the healthiest way to go about things.
When you consume your daily intake of calories through unhealthy junk food, you'll experience fatigue and an overall lack of energy. You may also feel hungrier and less satiated, as these foods aren't really meant to make you feel satisfied. In fact, most junk foods are made with the intention to increase your cravings and addiction, so you keep coming back for more. In addition to that, the high levels of sugar and trans fat found in these foods further prevent you from feeling full for a long time.
On the other hand, healthy food high in fibre, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats can help you feel satiated and prevent you from feeling untimely hungry. As you stick to a healthy diet for a few days, you'll soon start to notice that you aren't craving unhealthy or sugary foods and beverages anymore.
In order to get the best results out of your diet, try to incorporate the following foods into your diet.
- A lot of leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc.)
- A lot of non-starchy vegetables (cauliflower, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.)
- A moderate amount of starchy vegetables (potatoes, butternut squash, chickpeas, peas, corn etc.)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardine, etc.)
- Lean protein (white-fleshed fish, skinless chicken, lean beef, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, tofu, etc.)
- Whole grains (wheat, oats, brown rice, etc.)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, etc.)
- All types of nuts and seeds.
Since these foods are nutrient-dense, they provide you more energy, make you feel fuller for longer, and are overall better for your health.
However, it would help if you ultimately created a calorie deficit in your diet. So, create a meal plan that suits you the best so that you are able to stick with it longer.
Is Exercise Useless?
While exercise may not be as crucial for weight loss as many people seem to believe, it is undoubtedly a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also build muscle, speed up your metabolism, boost your brain health, make you look better, and provide a number of other benefits. Therefore, if you want to stay at the top of your health and fitness levels, adding a mix of aerobics and weight training to your schedule is definitely a good idea.
But if your sole aim is to lose weight, it is possible to achieve that without sweating at the gym.