Weight Loss is Made in the Kitchen
Most people tend to think that to lose weight, they need to eat less and exercise more—and exercise is indeed essential for keeping the body healthy and strong, reaping benefits for cancer prevention, blood sugar and cholesterol management, heart health, bone strength, mental health and anti-aging benefits—but when it comes to weight loss, what you put in your mouth makes the biggest impact.
It’s true – weight loss is made in the kitchen. We’ve learned that working with thousands of clients over the last 10-plus years.
What? This Goes Against Everything I Know to Be True
An interesting fact: Even when you sweat it out at the gym, those calories you burn account for actually a pretty small amount of your total energy expenditure, which is composed of three parts: basal metabolic rate (the energy used at rest), energy used to digest your food, and the energy used in daily physical activity. While digesting food takes up about 10% of our total energy expenditure, our basal metabolic rate accounts for up to 80%, which leaves just a small percentage for physical activity, including more formal exercise.
The takeaway here? It’s difficult to have a noticeable calorie deficit with exercising.
More Exercise, More Food?
When we exercise, we often think we “deserve” more food and tend to eat so much that it counteracts any calorie deficit we do create. A 2012 roundup of research studies on the subject found that exercisers tend to overestimate how many calories they burned and then ate more to compensate. You can counteract an hour on the elliptical with just five minutes of eating a dense snack.
Another interesting “side effect” of exercise is that people tend to do less movement after a session at the gym, ie. taking a nap or feeling like they can zone out in front of the TV (called compensatory behaviors) because they got in their movement at the gym, so they’re getting less movement than they think, and therefore less caloric burn.
The bottom line? Keep up your exercise routine—it’s good for you, and does help you tone and elongate your muscles. Just don’t expect it to do much for your waistline.