The New Year is upon us, and with it comes our New Year’s Resolutions – goals to improve our selves, boost our success and build a better, happier, and more fulfilling life. The most common resolution made in 2017, accounting for 21.4% of the population, was to lose weight.
Each year we see it – an influx of people joining diet programs, weight loss centers, and their local gym. Each of them is well meaning, however, with a large amount of conflicting information and misinformation currently circulating the internet it is hard for the general public to even know where to start.
The key to effective weight loss is to stop and reconsider what you are eating. In today’s society, many of us are enjoying a diet of processed, sugar filled, high-fat foods including many frozen meals, sugary snacks, and fast food. If you want to see results faster, go back to the fuel that you are providing your body. Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, a nutritional biochemist and a former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic explains:
“As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks. It’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to ‘undo’ it!”
The message makes sense – if you are starting by putting the wrong fuel into your body, you are actually working against yourself. You can run for hours on the treadmill, but by eating it all back (plus more) you are not only slowing your progress, you may actually be gaining weight! Instead, by eliminating some of the high fat, high sugar, high-calorie foods that we indulge in on a regular basis we can increase our chances of seeing a difference. In fact, you may even see a difference without adding to your current level of physical activity.
Philip Stanforth, a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas and the executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas explained that the biggest mistake most people make is overvaluing the results of their workouts. Too often people fall into the trap of believing that their workout is burning hundreds of calories when they are majorly overestimating the true burn. They then eat based on their supposed burn, ultimately taking in more calories than they are actually burning and defeating the purpose entirely.
He broke it down, saying: “You’d have to walk 35 miles (56 kilometers) to burn 3,500 calories. That’s a lot of walking. But if you look at eating, a Snickers bar might have, say, 500 calories. It’s going to be a lot easier to cut the Snickers bar than to do 5 miles (8 kilometers of walking every day.”
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be working out. As stated above, exercise is part of the equation. You are only going to get so far by changing your diet and ignoring the physical fitness component – but don’t overlook the power of choices you make in the kitchen!
Featured image via Milled