Weight loss is a complicated and often difficult process. You’ve probably tried diets or exercise programs only to find that they simply didn’t work. No one wants to waste their time with diets that don’t work! This has led to a common question in the weight-loss world: should you diet or exercise to lose weight?
The answer is both. But, don’t worry — you don’t need to eat tiny meals and sweat for hours at the gym every day. There are ways to make your diet and exercise plan work for you so you’ll not only lose weight, but you’ll also achieve better health and feel better than ever.
Lasting weight loss possible, but it involves taking a whole-body, healthy approach that will work with your genetics and individual needs. And this approach is probably very different from other plans you’ve seen or tried in the past.
The exercise myth
Many people think the purpose of exercise is to burn lots of calories. So, understandably, they get discouraged and quit exercising when it’s not helping the pounds melt off right away.
This philosophy has two major flaws:
- Weight loss isn’t just about calories eaten and calories burned. The foods we eat affect our bodies in ways that have nothing to do with that number. Eating low-calorie foods — even if you exercise — could actually lead to weight gain, if these foods aren’t working with your body in healthy ways. Keep reading to find out why.
- Exercise can — and will — help you lose weight, but not in the ways you might be thinking. Exercise benefits your health in numerous ways because it’s great for your physical and mental health. If you don’t exercise, you lower your chances of weight-loss success.
To lose weight and feel your best, you need both diet and exercise. But, it’s not as simple as reducing your calories and increasing your cardio. Instead, focus on foods that will help you lower inflammation and boost your metabolism, while following an exercise plan that works for your body type and lifestyle.
Inflammation matters more than calories
When you follow a low-calorie diet, you may lose some weight — at least initially. But these types of restrictive plans are difficult to stick with because most of the time, people end up hungry, tired, and frustrated. And, once they stop the low-calorie plan, the weight may come right back. This is one reason why simply counting calories isn’t the answer.
But there’s another problem with just counting calories or trying to burn them off with exercise. You’re not considering inflammation, which is a major factor in weight gain, chronic disease, and other health issues.
Many foods, including many diet foods, are inflammatory. Inflammatory foods tax the immune system, leading to a release of inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals interfere with the body’s processes, including digestion, insulin response, hunger, and fat storage.
Many people inadvertently consume inflammatory foods each day in an effort to lose weight. Unfortunately, their bodies then have to focus their energy on fighting the inflammation instead of on losing weight and burning fat. So even if you’re eating very few calories and exercising, you won’t achieve your weight goals until you get the inflammation under control.
Learn to avoid inflammation-causing foods
Avoid or limit these inflammation-promoters in your diet:
- Processed foods, such as packaged cookies, crackers, and other snacks
- Refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, and white pasta
- Food additives, preservatives, and flavor enhancers
- Sweets and sugary foods
- Saturated fats found in fatty meats and dairy products
- Trans fats, found in fast foods and many pre-made baked goods
- Omega-6 fats found in some vegetable oils
This can seem overwhelming, but there’s a simple solution to avoid most — if not all — of these problem foods:
- Focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and foods high in omega-3 fats like wild-caught fish.
- Avoid foods that are highly processed or contain ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Eat plenty of leafy greens and healthy fats found in avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.
- Drink plenty of water, and avoid energy drinks, soda, and juice.
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll also naturally integrate more fiber into your diet, which could also have some anti-inflammatory power on its own. Some evidence suggests that people who eat the most fiber also have low levels of C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation. Whether this is related to fiber itself or simply eating healthy foods is not known. Either way, fiber is essential for digestive health and helping you feel full between meals — definitely useful benefits if you’re trying to lose weight!
Why you should still exercise
If you’re following an anti-inflammatory diet, chances are, you’re getting plenty of nutrients and helping your body shed excess weight and run smoothly. So why do you still need to exercise?
Because exercise will support and enhance your weight loss efforts in ways that diet cannot.
First, exercise is vitally important for good mental health, which is something everyone needs as they try to lose weight. Exercise can improve your mood, treat anxiety and depression, and give you more energy. And you don’t have to do a hard-core class or run 10 miles to get these benefits. In fact, a regular walking program could be just as beneficial.
Exercise also helps fight inflammation, which will further boost your efforts to get healthy and avoid the inflammation trap that can lead to chronic disease and excess weight.
Finally, exercise will help with balance and coordination, which can help prevent injury and disability. It can help keep your bones and muscles strong so you don’t become inactive or frail as you get older. It’s a great way to set yourself up for a long, healthy, active life.
Get weight loss support from the experts
Most people don’t know which foods are right for them or how to best start an exercise plan. That’s why you need the expertise of medical professionals who specialize in helping people achieve their health goals. Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers can get you on the right path and provide support every step of the way. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!