When it comes to losing weight, the evidence is pretty clear – “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” according to a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
If your goal is weight loss, that gym membership is going to do little to drop the pounds when your diet is out of shape. If you hit the gym five days a week for 30 minutes a day and you’re not losing weight, you now know why. It’s not your metabolism. It’s not your hormones. It’s what and how much you eat. We would be surprised if we knew how little calories we really need. Foods like fish or seafood, grains, fruits and vegetables don’t have that many calories. The average American will consume more than 3000 calories a day when actually 1500 is plenty. Unless you run 5 miles a day you don’t need a lot of calories. We consume half our daily calories in the drinks we consume. If we only drank water, coffee, and tea we could cut more than 1000 calories a day.
We’re talking about more than just your expanding belly and butt. A wicked diet causes more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined, according to the editorial. Even those with a normal body mass index (BMI) often have metabolic abnormalities we usually see with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Why? Their poor diet, despite their weight being seemingly healthy.
You often hear, “You’d have to jog 30 minutes to burn off that double cheeseburger.” But it’s more than that. The editorial cites a study showing an extra 150 calories of sugar causes more diabetes than the same number of calories in fat or protein. This isn’t permission to load up on all the fatty foods you want — too many calories is still going to lead to too much body fat.
In addition, research has shown that cutting carbohydrates in your diet is the most effective thing you can do to reduce problems including high blood pressure and high cholesterol and manage diabetes, the editorial notes. Those benefits are seen even if you don’t lose weight.
Don’t sit down just yet. Exercise is still critically important for your optimal health. Exercise is medicine. If you’re active, your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and some cancers plummets by at least 30%. No drug can do that. Exercise just doesn’t help much with weight loss.
If you’re looking to slim down for bathing suit season, take a good hard look at what’s on your plate. Load up on veggies and lean protein. Skip the starchy carbs and junk food. And when you’ve hit your goal weight, hit the gym to continue on your journey to good health.
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