Frustrating though it may be, it is a sad but true fact that exercise alone will not take you all the way to your weight loss goals.
In fact, losing the weight you want is more a function of what you eat than how much you work out.
Look at it this way: jogging a mile burns maybe 100 calories. A typical chocolate chip cookie contains about 120 calories. You would have to jog almost a mile and a half to undo the effects of one cookie, and if you are like most folks, stopping after eating a single cookie isn’t an option.
Of course, the same principle holds true even for healthy foods. That’s why trying to lose weight by exercise alone without monitoring your diet is likely to end in frustration.
Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to starve yourself in order to lose weight. A handful of simple adjustments can help you reduce your caloric intake and burn calories more easily.
1. Reduce your processed carbs – Needless to say, our caveman ancestors didn’t have access to refined carbohydrates—and they were certainly better off for it. Refined carbs play havoc with your blood sugar levels and are very easily stored as fat. Always choose whole grain carbs over refined carbs and be careful to limit all carbs to a reasonable level.
2. Eat more fiber – Fiber has a number of health benefits, not least of which is helping you feel more full so that you consume fewer calories. Cavemen and women had large amounts of fiber in their diets; our digestive systems are well evolved to handle it.
3. Drink lots of water – Water is a zero calorie beverage that fills you up. On the flip side, chronic dehydration can cause you to consume more calories. Your body often confuses hunger and thirst signals, so you may end up eating more than necessary while trying to satisfy your thirst.
4. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – Rather than snacking on sweets or potato chips, replace those foods with fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit can help satisfy a sweet tooth and both fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber.
5. Get a reasonable amount of protein in your diet – Of course, this was a favorite tactic of our ancestors as well. Foods that are high in protein help smooth out the highs and lows of your blood sugar level. They also help prevent the food cravings that can result from blood sugar fluctuations. What’s more, protein supports muscle growth and repair while helping maintain appropriate levels of certain hormones. The FDA recommends that adults and children over the age of four should consume at least 50 grams of protein per day.
In addition to these diet tweaks, maintaining a consistent exercise plan can help you reach your weight loss goals without starving yourself or killing yourself in the gym. In the end, it’s all about moderation and consistency, as well as making smart choices with your diet.
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