Working out like a maniac, yet not losing weight? Science shows us that diet, not exercise is the key to losing weight more quickly and efficiently.
Why Working Out Alone Doesn’t Lead To Large Weight Loss
If you are the type of person who bribes yourself over food and workouts: “I will eat this (insert junk food) and then run on the treadmill for an hour and it will be like nothing happened,” you may want to switch up your strategy.
The idea that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise and still maintain a healthy weight is one that’s commonly held, yet not actually proven. It’s one that is repeated over and over again in the media. For example, parents and politicians complain that the lack of gym class is linked to the obesity epidemic, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign focuses on exercise as the centerpiece for combatting childhood obesity, and fitness magazines often tout things like “workouts for weight-loss.”
Numerous studies have shown that physical activity does not have a significant effect on weight. For example, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which included over 1,000 people, found that when diet stayed the same, increasing workouts from less than 1.5 hours a week up to 3-5 hours a week, over the course of one full year, lead to an average weight loss of 3-4 pounds. You could healthfully lose that in as little as two weeks by changing your diet.
Another meta-analysis published in PLOS One that examined the relationship between fat mass and physical activity in children found no association between the two, and concluded that physical activity may not be the key determinant of unhealthy weight gain in children.
The True Benefits of Exercise – And Why you MUST Still Do It
There is no questioning that exercise is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle.
It has many proven benefits including:
- supporting the immune system
- balancing blood sugar
- aiding elimination
- protecting against heart disease and certain cancers
- lowering stress levels
- boosting mood
- supporting hormonal health, and perhaps even
- prolonging your life.
But weight loss? While it certainly doesn’t hurt and can help to a limited extent, the science just doesn’t show it has as large an impact on the scale as the junk food industry would like you to believe. This myth is one perpetuated across the food industry.
This is an excerpt from my forthcoming, Real Food Grocery Guide, to be published May 2017. Pre-order it now on Amazon.
So, What Is the Best Way To Lose Weight?
Eating real, whole, plant-based food is the key to losing and maintaining a healthy weight.
Numerous studies indicate that the best diet is one that keeps blood sugar stable (so bye bye, refined foods) and incorporates a variety of whole foods, which I like to call real foods.
A real food diet is able to afford these results, as it regulates hunger and keeps you satiated while delivering an abundance of nutrients through a relatively low number of calories. When you eat real foods, they take up your stomach space, so to speak, and crowd out other less healthy foods in the diet, like processed foods and red meat, which tend to be low in nutrients and high in calories.
What is Real Food?
Real food is what you find in the periphery of the grocery store. It’s all the edible products Mother Nature gave us in their unadulterated form: fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and unprocessed meat.
So, if you feel like you’re working out like a maniac, yet the scale isn’t budging, take a look at your diet.
One of the best places to start is removing sugar and refined foods, and adding in more vegetables and fruit. I know, I know, easier said then done. Browsing my recipes section is a good place to start. If you’re ready to commit to it, and want an easy to follow plan, check out my EatHealthy Meal Plan for more guidance.
Maria Marlowe is a holistic nutrition and wellness coach who uses real food to help her clients improve their health, weight, and skin. She offers a healthy eating meal plan that teaches you how to batch cook, as well as one to clear up acne. She has ongoing group workshops both in NYC and online, and writes healthy and delicious plant-based recipes for her popular blog. She is also the author of the #1 New Release on Amazon, The Real Food Grocery Guide, the most practical guide to selecting the healthiest foods, without going broke, which has been praised by Dr. Oz and InStyle magazines. You can find her on instagram @mariamarlowe.