When you are trying to lose weight, diet and exercise are a winning combination, but you don’t have to exercise to lose weight. If that were the case life would be terribly unfair because lots of people have mobility issues and/or other health issues that make it difficult to increase their levels of physical activity.
So, if medical reasons are preventing you from exercising, don’t worry. You can still lose weight. The most important thing you can do to get slim is to monitor your diet and keep your calorie intake sufficiently low.
If you can do this and exercise as well, it creates a highly desirable situation because your low-calorie diet will cause a calorie deficit that forces your body to burn fat. Meanwhile, your exercise activities will be causing you to burn more calories than you normally would. This will help you to burn even more fat and lose weight faster.
However, diet is the key, not exercise. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise, it won’t help you to lose weight if your diet is providing you with more extra calories than it’s possible for you to burn. It’s a lot easier to put less calories into the mouth than it is to burn calories via exercise. (What Are Calories And How Do You Count Them?)
Why Diet Is More Important Than Exercise
Let’s try and put this into perspective. How long would it take you to eat a burger and fries? Twenty minutes? Half-an-hour? Either way,if you want to lose weight you would be better off with a lower-calorie meal.
According to statistics provided by McDonald’s a Big Mac provides 540 calories. [McDonald’s Online Nutrition Calculator]
Even if you resist the option to “go large”, a small portion of fries will add a further 220 calories to your meal. That means your meal will provide a total of 760 calories and probably do so in less than half-an-hour. Add a small coke to your meal (150 calories) and you will have taken in 910 calories. For the average woman that will account for nearly half the energy requirements for a day (2,000 calories per day).
But how long would it take to burn 910 calories? That will depend on the kind of exercise you choose. Your present weight will also influence the number of calories you can burn with exercise. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn.
However, let’s take a look at a few examples.
According to figures provided by Harvard, people who weigh 185 lbs (83.9 kg) and maintain a pace of 6 mph to burn 888 calories per hour by running. That’s still less calories than they would get by consuming the aforementioned meal.
By comparison, someone who weighs 125 lbs (56.7 kg) would only burn 600 calories by maintaining the same running speed for that same period of time.
Running for an hour is hot, sweaty work. Especially if you are out of shape and, if you are not eating sensibly, it’s all too easy to take in more calories than you burn.
A Couple of Case Studies
Twenty years ago, I used to go jogging three times per week. I ran seven miles (11.26 km) every time. In addition to this, I spent an hour weight training, four nights per week.
I was getting plenty of exercise but I was overweight and I stayed overweight because my calorie intake was too high. A lot of those extra calories came from alcohol. In those days, I was very focused on piling on extra muscle so I was also eating a high protein diet that provided a lot of extra calories as well. I was very fit and very strong but I was overweight. I knew why but remained that way for some time. It was not through ignorance. It was just a “lifestyle” choice that I made.
These days, I exercise a lot less than I used to do but I am slim. Why? Because I no longer bombard my body with excess calories.
Diet is the key to weight loss. I’m going to further illustrate this with another example from my own life.
My wife has mobility issues and suffers from very poor health. She has to walk with a stick and is extremely limited in what she can do.
Several years ago, I got back from jogging. In those days I’d modified my diet towards weight loss and had successfully attained a six-pack. I looked and felt pretty good. Before I hit the shower, I noticed my wife was shaking. Then I saw the tears in her eyes. She was overweight and it was getting her down.
She said, “It’s alright for you. I can’t exercise.”
Like many other people, she firmly believed it was not possible to lose weight without exercise.
I sat with my wife and began to explain how calories are a unit of energy and how reducing energy intake helps you to lose weight. I told her I ‘d lost weight because of my diet and all that running was only speeding things up.
This is a true story by the way. I’m only sharing it to illustrate a point.
Anyway, my wife listened to me and cut many things from her diet. For one thing, she stopped drinking several cans of coke a day. She also stopped snacking between meals. The result of this was, without doing any exercise, my wife lost weight. Unfortunately, her mobility issues will always prevent her from doing athletic pursuits, but she is rightly proud of the nice, slim figure.
All she did was change her diet. Anyone can do that. So can you.