We could all use a win, with the way this year is going. What if you made weight loss your end-year goal?
You’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done.”
If you’ve tried and failed in the past to lose weight, let’s take a different approach to weight loss, starting by exploring why weight is so easy to put on and so hard to shed. We can also find out if there is a way to shed the pounds and keep them off without having to go on a hero’s quest. Let’s start with the basics.
An explanation of how we gain or lose weight
It may sound simplistic, but weight gain occurs when the body takes in and stores more calories than it expends. Conversely, weight loss happens when the body expends more calories than it stores. Sounds like simple math, right? Then how is it that some of us see little change when we adopt a diet and exercise regimen? Why don’t the numbers cooperate and do their thing as you pursue your fitness goals?
This is where metabolism comes into play. Think of calories as ‘fuel’ that the body burns for its different purposes. Like a machine, the body will try to be efficient with its resources, only using what it must. On standby mode, about 70 percent of the calories that the body burns go towards keeping the lights on . These base body functions include respiration, digestion, brain function, hormone regulation, maintaining body heat, and clicking the remote.
That leaves a balance of 25 to 30 percent. This is the calorie burn that comes with physical activity like walking, chores, playing, and dancing. So it figures that people who have physically demanding jobs tend to burn most of these calories. The same goes for people with consistently active lifestyles. In contrast, a sedentary lifestyle will leave these calories intact. They go into storage as fat and accumulate in the process we call weight gain.
Our focus is going to be on keeping the body from storing unnecessary calories.
Diet and weight loss
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We see that 70 percent of the body’s calorie burn can be chalked up to housekeeping. So let’s explore one approach to dealing with the remaining 30 percent: Diet.
Is there a way that we can modify our diet to prevent the body from dealing with excess calories? Yes. The earlier section mentions the fact that the body is all about efficiency when it comes to burning fuel. Given a choice between refined sugar and complex carbohydrates, the body will use up the option that is easier to break down. That option is refined carbs.
This doesn’t mean that you should count calories like you’re doing accounting. It only means that you should swap out refined sugars for complex carbs. Substitute sweet and salty snacks with fruits and nuts. Replace deli meats with home-cooked meat from the butcher. Along with portion control, these replacement measures reduce the supply of unnecessary calories. However, this is a lifestyle change whose effects become evident in the long term .
Exercise and weight loss
We are still on that 30 percent of calories that the body burns during physical activity. Diet goes a long way towards preventing the storage of extra calories. So does an increase in physical activity.
The math is simple, a long-term increase in physical activity leads to a long-term decrease in body fat. Not weight, fat. Now, this article is about weight loss and not just fat loss. Yet, it is common for a person to notice weight gain a week or two into their fitness journey.
It isn’t that exercise is doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. The truth is exercise often results in muscle gain, which adds to a person’s weight. This is the kind of weight you want. Muscle is great at burning calories, and after a few weeks, you will notice the body fat starts to melt away .
It is worth noting that all this takes time, and anyone advertising a fitness regimen that works in three weeks is misleading you.
Muscle gain, fat loss, and weight loss
Again, an increase in muscle increases the number of cells that burn calories in the body. This leads to an increase in the base metabolic rate. An increase in calorie burn leaves fewer calories for storage, and this means less formation of body fat. At the very least, exercise and the resulting muscle gain causes a slowdown of fat deposits.
When the body fails to find an excess of calories, it will slowly start to burn fat. However, there is a caveat: Starving the body of calories will cause it to break down muscle, not fat. A reduction in muscle mass then leads to a lower base metabolic rate. With time, this may cause weight gain.
This means that the ideal weight loss diet needs the input of someone in the know, like a dietician.
Diet and exercise: Can one work without the other to achieve weight loss?
Dieting helps with weight loss. For lasting results, a healthy diet has to become a way of life, not a fad or a quick way to fit into that outfit.
Exercise also helps with weight loss. However, a poor diet limits the effectiveness of even the most demanding fitness routines.
When you combine diet and exercise in the long run, the results are impressive. The body builds muscle and raises its metabolism. This, in turn, burns fat, which goes a long way in sculpting muscle.
Level up with a fitness plan that works
So if you’re looking to finally lose weight and keep it off, pairing the right exercise routine with a healthy diet should be on your to-do list. One type of exercise that’s sure to do that is martial arts. There’s no better way to get in shape while having fun and learning to defend yourself.
So give martial arts a go and take the plunge by signing up for a complimentary trial class today!
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- Apfelbaum MJ, Bestsarron J, Lacatis D. Effect of caloric restriction and excessive caloric intake on energy expenditure. Am J Clin Nutr 1971