“I’m going to start losing weight”
“Great, what’s your plan?”
“I’m going to the gym again, I will probably do 30 minutes on the elliptical a day”
I have had this very conversation more times than I can count. It’s almost gotten to the point where I can predict the future as I always know what the person is going to say. Heck, I used to be the same way! I thought exercise was the end all be all of weight loss and the only way to really look the way I wanted to. Or maybe I thought it was just easier to exercise and still eat really terrible food. Guess what. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I’m going to say that again. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!
Exercise has many benefits, but there are problems with relying on it to control weight. First, it’s just not true that Americans, in general, aren’t listening to calls for more activity. From 2001 to 2009, the percentage of people who were sufficiently physically active increased. But so did the percentage of Americans who were obese. The former did not prevent the latter.
Studies confirm this finding. A 2011 meta-analysis, a study of studies, looked at the relationship between physical activity and fat mass in children, and found that being active is probably not the key determinant in whether a child is at an unhealthy weight. In the adult population, interventional studies have difficulty showing that a physically active person is less likely to gain excess weight than a sedentary person. Further, studies of energy balance, and there are many of them, show that total energy expenditure and physical activity levels in developing and industrialized countries are similar, making activity and exercise unlikely to be the cause of differing obesity rates.
A couple new studies (like the one mentioned above) have come out confirming that diet is FAR more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss. The funny thing is, we all kinda knew this, and we just didn’t want to admit it. Its way easier to eat that piece of cake and say you will work it off later than it is to consistently say no to these damaging foods. Plus, people constantly misjudge how many calories they really burn when they exercise. Part of that is their treadmill and elliptical probably lies to them and part of it is misjudging how hard they are actually working.
Don’t get me wrong, exercise is amazingly important for overall health and wellbeing. But if you are trying to lose weight, you need to understand the effects exercise will have on you. First of all, it will make you hungrier! Realize that, and feed yourself accordingly. Just don’t “reward” yourself with an unhealthy treat after doing 30 minutes of exercise. It will severely hurt your ability to lose any weight whatsoever. Healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and green veggies after a workout will give you energy AND help you lose weight.
In order to lose weight we must start with our diet and it’s best not to complicate it. Eliminate all refined sugars and stick to healthy proteins, fats, and carbs. Chicken, turkey, all veggies, sweet potatoes, and fruits in the morning should be staples of your diet.
Help us spread the word! The next time someone tells you their plan to lose weight solely relies on exercise, educate them that changing their diet is far more important! Tell them to supplement their diet with occasional exercise, not vice versa. Most importantly, don’t forget the mantra: You cannot out-exercise a bad diet!