Why You Need More Than Exercise to Lose Weight

By | August 11, 2015

Weight Loss Requires More Than Just Exercise

I’ve always been interested in losing a few pounds. That means that I must either sweat profusely and expend much more energy than I generally like to, or do the dreaded restricting of calories.

Exercise is time consuming, and not getting to eat what you want isn’t very fun either. So, every year, like a lot of people, I try to pump myself up for some new diet or exercise challenge to see if I can shred some flab. This year I decided to enlist the help of my smart phone and use an app to keep track of my calories and exercise. What I found out after three months of hard work is that people need more than just exercise to lose weight.

My thoughts on exercise were wrong

I thought that if I exercised enough, then I could eat whatever I want. It was simple. I logged in the foods that I ate on the app, and then when I exercised, I logged that in too. The app did all the math work and showed me that I should be losing weight because of all the exercise that I was doing. I would get up early and bike ride, then after lunch I would do some core strength training, then at night a mixture of both, or maybe some yoga. I was excited about all this exercise and the prospect of still eating ice cream and pizza while indulging with several dark beers.

Now, my body is resistant to change, so I gave it a good two months before I expected to see any results. I also know that muscle weighs more than fat, so I figured if I was gaining muscle, then I might see a slight weight increase before any decrease in the numbers on the scale. I have been known in the past to measure all the parts of my body in order to compare those results too. A quick and easy test to tell if you’ve lost weight or even toned up is just to slip on some pants that were too small or tight before you started exercising. Experts always say that your body is more than just a number on the scale!

Either way, I still like using the number on the scale at the end of the day. Each week I would look forward to weighing in. I would weigh myself on a Sunday morning before coffee and breakfast and look forward with much anticipation to see the fruit of all my hard labor. Except, the number wasn’t budging, even after three months! What was wrong? I was being so diligent about logging in all my food and exercise, and I was sternly dedicated to exercising for many hours a day. The app was saying that I was taking in much fewer calories than I was expending, so what’s the problem?

It’s all about┬áNutrition

I started Googling for information on if diet really matters, even if you exercise a lot. What I came up with is that not all calories are the same. Now, I probably knew this in the back of my head, but I just didn’t want to believe it. What that means, though, is that you can’t just eat cake, ice cream, potato chips, and a bunch of food that basically is full of fat and sugar and has very little nutrients because your body processes them differently.

According to TrainingPeaks.com, a website dedicated to training and health, “Carbohydrate, fat and protein calories are indeed equal by definition in terms of their energy content, but the body processes each in a distinct way, and these differences have real implications for weight management.” Your body sees processing 500 calories of ice cream differently than 500 calories of nutrient-dense foods.

So, back to the drawing board. I threw out all my processed snacks that I was eating and bought some carrots and broccoli instead. I left the dark, thick beer at the store and went with some light white wine. I decided also that because it was summer, I would make some healthy fruit smoothies to curb my sweet tooth. The foods you eat definitely make all the difference in the battle of the bulge.

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