Weight comes off the same way it was put on—a calorie at a time—and anyone who burns more calories per day than they consume will lose weight, it’s as simple as that. If someone consumes food that provides 2000 calories, and burns 2500 calories the extra 500 calories will have to be found elsewhere and most of those calories will come from the body’s backup energy supply—fat.
Weight loss results can be improved by further reducing the calorie intake through the use of stricter dietary restrictions. Increasing physical activity levels creates a greater demand for calories; so taking regular exercise can be a very good way to lose weight, especially when combined with a low-calorie diet. Taking more exercise also benefits the health in numerous other ways. It’s good for the heart, it can help provide a better level of sleep and, according to the NHS website, exercise can also help protect against depression and promote mental wellbeing.
Increasing Physical Activity Levels
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There are lots of ways to increase physical activity levels, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, and walking or cycling to work instead of taking the bus or the car. It all helps, especially when the calorie intake is kept under control, but higher intensity exercise and/or exercise that is carried out over a longer period of time will require a greater amount of calories than a stroll to the local supermarket. Figures provided by the Mayo Clinic state an hour-long walk, at 3 ½ miles per hour will burn 314-469 calories. However, the same time spent swimming would burn 423-632 calories, and an 8 mph jog would burn 861-1286 calories.
Getting the Calorie Equation Right
Sometimes dieters exercise hard and are mystified because they still do not lose any weight. This results from a disregard of the calorie equation. Figures supplied by McDonalds state a (9.7oz) Bacon Clubhouse Burger provides 740 calories, a small portion of fries adds 230 more, and a small Chocolate McCafé Shake adds a further 560 calories. So even without “going large” this combination would provide 1530 calories.
That’s more than can be burned off during a 60 minute-run. This may be a drastic example but all food contains calories and they soon add up. Even a small apple contains over 50 calories. The average man would only require 2500 calories to maintain his present weight, the average woman requires just 2000 calories per day, so it is important to monitor the calorie intake and make sure the (calorie) sums add up to weight loss success.
Getting the Best from Exercise
Although it is helpful if the chosen form of exercise is enjoyable, or even fun, exercise periods need to be taken seriously. An hour in the pool will not burn off many calories if the time is spent chatting near the edge instead of doing laps. In a similar manner, gym time can be a waste of time if the weights are swung around aimlessly instead of being controlled in a way that forces the muscles to work hard. It is important to make every minute count and rests between sets should not be allowed to become excessively long.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine the weight loss benefits of exercise can be improved by using a technique called “high intensity training” (HIT) and it works just as well for low activity pursuits, such as walking, as it does for more intense forms of exercise.
Dieters who wish to reap the calorie burning benefit of HIT need to add short periods of higher intensity exercise to their normal training pursuits. For example, someone who normally enjoys walking could alternate between one minute of walking and one minute of sprinting for 25 minutes. This can speed up the metabolism and cause the body to burn calories faster than normal. The effects can last for up to 24 hours, so HIT can be a powerful weight loss technique.
The Role of Supplements in Weight Loss
Although there are some very good products on the market, supplements are not the be-all and end-all of weight loss and even the best diet pills in the world can fail miserably is the calorie equation is ignored. There are no magic pills.
Supplements only offer support, but some of them do it very well. Fat and carb blockers can reduce the amount of calories the body receives, and fat burners can speed up the metabolism and help the body to burn extra calories. All of this is good, but too much food, eaten too often can still result in further weight gain. It is possible to lose weight with diet and exercise alone, but when the calorie equation is kept under control a good supplement can speed up the weight loss process considerably so, although the magic may be missing from the equation, fast, efficient weight loss is not an impossible dream.