With diet and exercise how long to lose weight

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How to lose weight with diet and exercise plan

Diet Vs Exercise: Which Matters More?

Are you trying to shed weight but getting meager results? This “diet vs exercise” article offers advice for what really works for long-term weight control.

My brother Joe, a 56-year-old physical therapist from Southern California, can’t resist steering into a fast food drive-thru at least three times a week. He figures his morning run makes up for his poor food choices. What does science say? Find out.

If you’ve started a fitness routine but haven’t seen the weight-loss success you’d hoped for, you may be missing an important piece of the puzzle. Find out in this article.

A former high school athlete, Joe always figured that if he just kept exercising (he’s been jogging five miles almost every morning for the past 35 years), he’d keep the weight off despite his less-than-stellar food choices.

But it hasn’t really worked. Joe is now about 30 pounds overweight.

So were all those sweaty miles at sunrise for naught? If you’re comparing diet vs exercise, is exercise the loser? Not at all. Reams of research affirm the multitudinous benefits of regular exercise. Physical activity (and this is just the short list):

  • Reduces blood sugar
  • Reduces heart attacks (and the mortality rate following a heart attack)
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Burns calories
  • Reduces diabetes
  • Retards the progression of atherosclerosis
  • Reduces strokes
  • Reduces bone fractures
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Improves appearance
  • Increases sense of well-being
  • Decreases stress
  • Reduces depression
  • Increases mental sharpness
  • Increases longevity

So why do physically active folks like Joe get chubby?

For starters, both fitness and food choices are vital for long-term weight control. The National Weight Control Registry, established in 1994 by scientists at the University of Colorado and Brown Medical School, is following more than 10,000 Americans who have lost weight and kept it off for years. Just 1% kept the pounds off with exercise alone, 10% did it with diet alone, and 89% used both.

Diet Vs Exercise

Secondly, research is learning that to keep the pounds from piling up, the food choices we make may be more important than the amount of exercise we’re doing. (Yes, Joe may have been better off cutting out the fast food than pounding the pavement.)

Food and Fitness (With the Emphasis On Food)

“Don’t get us wrong. Don’t make it an either/or choice,” points out Dr. Jay Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center. “For staying slim and overall good health, both food and fitness are important. But science is now discovering that Americans are getting fatter largely because of what they choose to eat and drink.”

In an eye-opening study published a few years ago, for example, researchers from the World Health Organization determined how many calories, on average, both children and adults needed in order to maintain a stable weight.

Comparing 1970s With Today

They also calculated how many calories Americans were actually eating in the 1970s and in the early 2000s, using national food supply data. As you no doubt guessed, we’re chowing down more in the 21st century. Compared to the 70s, adults in the early 2000s ate about 500 more calories a day. Children took in about 350 calories more daily.

The scientists then used their findings to predict how much weight they would expect American kids and adults to have gained from the 1970s to the early 2000s if calorie intake were the only influence.

Healthy Weight Loss Infographic

Consider what forms of weight loss are most effective in order to find a solution that’s right for you. Science of Weight Loss

“If the actual weight increase was the same as what we predicted, that meant that food intake was virtually entirely responsible. If it wasn’t, that meant changes in physical activity also played a role,” explained lead author Boyd Swinburn, PhD., director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia.

For the kids, it turned out that the predicted and actual weight gain matched exactly. The increases in calorie intake alone over the three decades explained the children’s weight gain.

For the adults, the average weight gain the researchers had predicted was nearly 24 pounds. The weight gain the American adults actually experienced was nearly 19 pounds.

Excess Calorie Intake Explains Weight Gain

The fact that the adults were five pounds shy of the 24-pound predicted weight gain means that “excess food intake still explains the weight gain, but that there may have been increases in physical activity over the 30 years that have blunted what would otherwise have been a higher weight gain,” Dr. Swinburn stated. (Yes, Joe and other fitness buffs like him did not gain as much weight as they might have.)

To slim back down to our average weight of the 1970s, a time when America was not struggling with an obesity epidemic, “we would need to reverse the increased food intake of about 350 calories a day for children [about one can of soda and a small bag of French fries] and 500 calories a day for adults [about one cheeseburger],” stated Dr. Swinburn.

Healthy Diet Plan

Weight Loss Guide

“Alternatively, we could achieve similar results by increasing physical activity by about 150 minutes a day of extra walking for children and 110 minutes for adults, but realistically, although a combination of both is needed, the focus would have to be on reducing calorie intake.”

Diet Vs Exercise… Do Both, But Put More Emphasis On Diet

Dr. Swinburn and colleagues concluded that physical activity should not be ignored in the battle against obesity and should certainly be promoted because of its many other health benefits, but expectations regarding exercise need to be tempered, and more emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging people to make better food choices.

For Joe and the rest of us, it all boils down to this: Let’s keep exercising, but even more importantly, let’s change what we’re eating.

The Pitfalls Of Counting Calories

Our focus should not be on counting calories, a tactic many Americans try – and fail at. And why wouldn’t they? If you’re counting calories and eating your regular diet (yes, the chips, fries, cheeseburgers, and sodas), the only way you can cut calories is to cut food. Half of a burger. Half a bag of fries. Six potato chips. A sip of Coke. But think about it. By paring our food down to small portions like this, most of us are pulling back from the table still hungry. How long can this type of eating really last?

“Trying to eat fewer calories from calorie-dense, low-fiber foods and calorie-dense beverages won’t likely work in the long term because hungry people rarely continue to eat less as hunger rachets up. This is why it is important to change what we eat, and not just count calories,” emphasizes Dr. Kenney.

Eating More, Weighing Less

The really good news, as thousands of people at the Pritikin Longevity Center have discovered over the last four decades, is that we can eat plentifully – nice big portions – and lose weight. This scientifically documented approach is all about choosing foods that give us the most satiety per calorie, foods such as:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Water-rich whole grains like hot cereals and brown rice
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and yams
  • Legumes like black beans and pinto beans
  • Nonfat dairy, and
  • Lean animal foods like seafood, bison, and white poultry

“Smart eating,” sums up Dr. Kenney, “is not about setting for less. It’s about putting more good food on our plate.”

Exercise and Weight Loss

In this Article

In this Article

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It’s a fact: You have to burn more calories than you eat and drink to lose weight.

For weight loss, it really matters that you cut back on the calories that you eat and drink. That matters most for taking the pounds off, according to the CDC.

Exercise pays off in the long run by keeping those pounds off. Research shows that regular physical activity will increase your chances of maintaining weight loss.

How Much Exercise Should I Do?

Start with just a few minutes of exercise at a time. Any exercise is better than none, and that helps your body slowly get used to being active.

Your goal is to work up to at least a half an hour most days of the week to get the full benefits from exercise.

If it’s more convenient, you can do short spurts — 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. Each action by itself may not seem like much, but they add up.

Once you’re in better shape, you can gradually exercise for longer periods of time and do more strenuous activities.

When you’re up for it, you can ramp up the intensity and get the same benefits in half the time. For example, jogging for 30 minutes provides health benefits similar to walking for 60 minutes.

What Kind of Exercise Should I Do?

You can do anything that makes your heart and lungs work harder, such as walking, biking, jogging, swimming, fitness classes, or cross-country skiing. Mowing your lawn, going out dancing, playing with your kids — it all counts, if it revs your heart.

If you don’t exercise and you’re a man over 45, a woman over 55, or have a medical condition, ask your doctor if you should avoid any types of activities.

Start with something like walking or swimming that’s easy on your body. Work at a slow, comfortable pace so you start to get fit without straining your body.

At least two or three times a week, do strength training. You can use resistance bands, weights, or your own body weight.

Stretch all your muscles at least twice a week after you exercise. That helps keep you flexible and prevent injury.

CDC: “Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight.”

American Heart Association: “Living Guidelines for Women: What You Need to Know.”

American Diabetes Association: “Weight loss.”

Exercise Vs. Diet: The Truth About Weight Loss

As told to Sarah Z. Wexler

When it comes to slimming down, which one matters more—exercise or diet? Two experts weigh in.

Hit the Gym

Expert: Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama

“Yes, you can lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is an important component. Without it, only a portion of your weight loss is from fat — you’re also stripping away muscle and bone density. Since working out stimulates growth of those metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you’re burning mostly fat. The number on the scale may not sound as impressive, but because muscle takes up less space than fat does, you look smaller and your clothes fit better. Data show that to lose weight with exercise and keep it off, you don’t need to run marathons. You just need to build up to five to seven workouts a week, 50 minutes each, at a moderate intensity, like brisk walking or Zumba. Resistance training helps, too. But don’t just do isolated weight-lifting exercises like biceps curls — you’ll get leaner faster by using your body weight against gravity, as with movements like squats, lunges, push-ups and planks. And, of course, beyond burning fat, people shouldn’t forget that exercise can have other impressive health perks, like improving the quality of your sleep, lowering your cholesterol and reducing your stress level.”

Eat Smart

Expert: Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic

“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!

“So, what should you eat? It’s true that low-carb diets tend to be the most popular because they offer the fastest results, but they can be difficult to sustain. I recommend striving for a more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass). For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight — so a 150-pound woman should shoot for a 1,500-calorie target. That way, you should be able to lose weight no matter how much you exercise.”

The Last Word: While diet and exercise are both important for long-term weight loss, remember this: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet,” says Talbott.

Effect of diet and exercise, alone or combined, on weight and body composition in overweight-to-obese post-menopausal women

KE Foster-Schubert

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

2 University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

3 Office of Cancer Survivorship, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

KL Campbell

4 University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

2 University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

G Blackburn

5 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

A McTiernan

1 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

2 University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

Lifestyle interventions for weight loss are the cornerstone of obesity therapy, yet their optimal design is debated. This is particularly true for postmenopausal women; a population with a high prevalence of obesity yet towards whom fewer studies are targeted. We conducted a year-long, 4-arm randomized trial among 439 overweight-to-obese postmenopausal sedentary women to determine the effects of a calorie-reduced, low-fat diet (D), a moderate-intensity, facility-based aerobic exercise program (E), or the combination of both interventions (D+E), vs. a no-lifestyle-change control (C) on change in body weight and composition. The group-based dietary intervention had a weight-reduction goal of ≥10%, and the exercise intervention consisted of a gradual escalation to 45 min aerobic exercise 5 d/wk. Participants were predominantly non-Hispanic Whites (85%) with a mean age of 58.0±5.0 years, a mean BMI of 30.9±4.0 kg/m 2 and an average of 47.8±4.4% body fat. Baseline and 12-month weight and adiposity measures were obtained by staff blinded to participants’ intervention assignment. 399 women completed the trial (91% retention). Using an intention-to-treat analysis, average weight loss at 12 months was −8.5% for the D group (P 2 , or ≥23 kg/m 2 for Asian-American women), and exercising 2 or ≥30 kg/m 2 ) and participants’ self-reported race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic White, Black, or other). In addition, to achieve a proportionally smaller number of women assigned to the control group, a permuted blocks randomization with blocks of 4 was used, wherein the control assignment was randomly eliminated from each block with a probability of approximately 1 in 4.

Lifestyle Change Interventions

The NEW dietary weight-loss intervention comprised our modification of the dietary component of the DPP (9) and the Look AHEAD (13) lifestyle intervention programs, with the following goals: total daily energy intake of 1200–2000 kcal/day based on baseline weight, less than 30% daily energy intake from fat, and a 10% reduction in body weight by 6 months with maintenance thereafter to 12 months. Content of the dietary counseling sessions was modified to better fit our study population (less focus on diabetes or diabetes risk), and the frequency and type of sessions (individual vs. group) also varied from DPP and Look AHEAD. Women met individually with a study dietitian for personalized goal-setting on at least two occasions, followed by weekly meetings in groups of approximately 5–10 women, through the first 6 months. Thereafter (months 7–12), dietitians had contact with participants twice a month, including one face-to-face contact (individual or group session) and one additional contact via phone or email. Participants were permitted additional in-person sessions, phone, or email contacts beyond the 32 expected, if they or the dietician felt these would help achieve intervention goals. This combination of individual and group-based approaches was used to maximize the benefits of targeted, personalized recommendations along with the social support and greater cost-effectiveness of a group setting. Women were asked to record all food eaten daily for at least 6 months, or until they reached their individual weight loss goal (10%). Food journals were collected by the dietitian and returned with feedback. Journaling, weekly weighins, and session attendance were tracked to promote adherence to the diet intervention.

Based on our previous exercise research in a similar population, the goal of the NEW exercise intervention was ≥45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise, 5 days/week (225 minutes/week) for 12 months (14, 15). Participants attended at least three sessions/week at our study facility where they were supervised by an exercise physiologist, and exercised for their remaining sessions at home. The exercise training program began with a 15 minute session at 60–70% maximal heart rate (determined by baseline exercise treadmill testing) and progressed to the target 70–85% maximal heart rate for 45 minutes by the 7 th week after enrollment where it was maintained for the remainder of the study. Women wore Polar heart rate monitors (Polar Electro, Lake Success, NY) during facility exercise sessions to assist with attaining their target heart rate. In addition, during both facility and home sessions they recorded the mode and duration of exercise, and peak heart rate achieved. Facility-based exercise consisted of treadmill walking, stationary bicycling, and use of other aerobic machines; while a variety of home exercises were encouraged including walking/hiking, aerobics, and bicycling. A small amount of resistance training to strengthen joints and limit injury was recommended, though not required. Activities of at least 4 metabolic equivalents (METs) according to the Compendium of Physical Activities (16) such as brisk walking were counted towards the prescribed aerobic exercise target. Activity logs were reviewed weekly by study staff in order to monitor adherence. Participants who were not meeting exercise targets were contacted by staff to discuss barriers and approaches to increase activity. In addition, the dietitians and exercise physiologists met regularly with a clinical health psychologist experienced in lifestyle behavior change to discuss participant progress and refine behavior modification goals according to each participant’s needs.

Women randomized to the diet + exercise group received both the dietary weight loss and aerobic exercise interventions. They participated in separate groups for the dietary weight-loss intervention from women assigned to diet alone. Although the diet + exercise group could use the exercise facility at the same time as participants assigned to the exercise-only group, they were instructed not to discuss the diet intervention. Women randomized to the control group were requested not to change their diet or exercise habits for the duration of the trial. At the end of 12 months, participants in the control group were offered four group nutrition classes and 8 weeks of facility exercise training with individualized guidance from an exercise physiologist, as an incentive to undergo randomization.

Study Measures and Data Collection

All study measures were obtained by trained study personnel who were blinded to the participants’ randomization status.

Participants completed a series of questionnaires at their baseline screening visit prior to randomization, including demographic information, medical history, health habits, reproductive and body weight history, diet intake (via a validated 120-item self-administered food frequency questionnaire) (17), as well as frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity over the preceding 3 month period (via an interview-administered Minnesota Physical Activity Questionnaire) (18). These same questionnaires were completed at the end of the 12-month study period.

Anthropometric measures were obtained at baseline and again at 12 months, while participants wore a hospital gown without shoes. Weight and height were measured to the nearest 0.1 kg and 0.1 cm, respectively, with a balance beam scale and stadiometer. Both measures were made in duplicate and averaged. BMI was calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. Waist and hip circumferences were measured in duplicate to the nearest 0.5 cm using a fiberglass tape, and averaged. Waist circumference was obtained at the end of normal expiration in the horizontal plane at the minimal waist, while the hip measure was obtained at the maximum point also in the horizontal plane. Total and percentage body fat and lean mass were measured using a dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) whole-body scanner (GE Lunar, Madison, WI) with participants in a supine position.

Adherence to the diet and exercise interventions was assessed via multiple approaches. The dietary intervention was evaluated by weight loss, and monitoring frequency of session attendance (19), food journal completion and submission, and self-weighing. These measures were reviewed weekly by study dieticians. Exercise participants tracked their activities in a daily exercise log that was reviewed on a weekly basis by the exercise physiologists. All participants completed certain measures at baseline and 12 months to assess differences and change across study arms. Food frequency questionnaires were completed primarily to assess dietary patterns and change in fat intake. Participants wore pedometers (Accusplit, Silicon Valley, CA) while awake for 7 consecutive days in order to determine an average daily step count. Cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max) was assessed using a maximal graded treadmill test according to a modified branching protocol starting at 3.0 mph and 0% grade with incremental increases in speed or grade every 2 minutes (20, 21). Heart rate and oxygen uptake were continuously monitored with an automated metabolic cart (MedGraphics, St. Paul, MN).

Statistical Analyses

Our primary outcome was the comparison of change in body weight by study group from baseline to 12 months. Secondary outcomes included the comparison by study group of the 12-month change in body composition as well as additional anthropometric measures. With 439 women enrolled in the NEW trial, we had over 80% power to detect a 3.16 kg difference between groups, using a Bonferroni adjustment for the multiple comparisons (two-sided α=0.05/6), and assuming a 10% drop-out rate/5% drop-in rate. We experienced 91% retention at 12 months, with 399 out of the 439 women randomized returning for final assessments ( Figure 1 ). All analyses were based on the assigned intervention at the time of randomization regardless of adherence (ie, intention-to-treat), with a conservative no-change-from-baseline imputation made for the missing values.

We computed the mean change in body weight, anthropometric, and body composition measures from baseline to 12 months and assessed the differences between each of the intervention and control groups. As these outcome measures were normally distributed, data transformation was not necessary. We used the generalized estimating equations (GEE) modification of linear regression to account for the longitudinal nature of the data and correlation within individuals. As a secondary analysis, we compared the mean 12-month changes in outcomes by tertiles of adherence measures. Additional descriptive data are presented as means±SD, unless otherwise noted. All statistical analyses were performed using SAS software version 9.1 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC).

The baseline characteristics of the 439 participants randomized to the NEW trial are shown in Table 1 . Women were on average 58.0±5.0 years old, obese (BMI 30.9±4.0 kg/m 2 ) with a high percent body fat (47.2±4.3%), and had poor cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max 22.9±4.0 kg/ml/min). Approximately 85% of participants were non-Hispanic White, 65% were college graduates, and about half were full-time employed. With the exception of percent fat intake in the diet estimated by FFQ, there were no statistically significant differences in any demographic or lifestyle variables between the study groups at baseline. 40 women did not complete the study (D=13, E=11, D+E=9, C=7), with the primary reasons for study discontinuation being: dissatisfaction with randomization, work or family demands, or injury or other medical issues unrelated to the intervention. At 12 months, 399 participants completed follow-up visits for body weight and anthropometric assessments, 396 underwent a DXA scan, and 370 participants completed a maximal treadmill test ( Figure 1 ).

Baseline characteristics of NEW trial participants

Diet And Exercise: The Best Way to Lose* Weight Fast!

Regular exercise is an important pillar of healthy leaving. This is because it enhances* cardiovascular health, decreases* blood pressure and helps to manage body weight. A healthy diet is also another important pillar and therefore the combination of the two is crucial.

How Diet and Exercise Can Improve* Your Body Health?

If you want to experience a healthy and long-term weight loss*, you need to strike a balance between diet and exercise since they are both important.

A balanced diet provides your body with lots of nutrients and protein and puts a limit on your sugar, fat, and cholesterol. Thus, it will furnish you with the fuel required to sustain a regular and whole exercise schedule for complete fitness.

How Diet and Exercise Work Jointly?

Your weight is determined by the amount of calories you consume daily less what your body uses. Anything you eat contains calories; on the other hand, every single thing you do utilizes calories, with breathing, digesting food and sleeping included. Anything you do on top of what you normally do will burn those additional calories.

Any type of physical activity you perform including household chores, job-related tasks, yard work, and planned exercise are all beneficial.

A proper balancing of the number of calories you use by way of physical activity and exercise with the calories you ingest will allow you to reach your desired weight. Regular exercise is helpful in controlling your weight by utilizing extra calories that would alternatively be stored up as fat and in improving* your metabolism and decreasing* insulin levels.

How Effective Diet and Exercise are in Weight Loss*?

In weight loss*, what everyone looks for is to shed off extra weight as fast as possible. It is therefore very important to choose the right diet and exercise. As such, fad diets though can prove to be effective, the results are short-lived and therefore it is advisable that you skip them.

It is possible to shed off a considerable amount of weight while at home so long as you engage in regular exercise and dwell on a healthy diet.

Losing Weight Loss* Fast

Burning 500 calories more than what you consume on a daily basis for one week, you should be able to shed off 1 to 2 pounds. Thus, in order to lose* weight faster, it is necessary that you reduce* your portions and do more exercises.

For example, if you consume between 1,050 and 1,200 calories in a day and engage yourself exercise for an hour, you should be able to cut down between 3 and 5 pounds during the first week or even more if your body weight is above 250 pounds. At this juncture, it is advisable that you maintain your current calorie intake as reducing* the calories further can be dangerous.

When you limit starch and salt, you could also lose* weight faster in the beginning but this involves fluids and not fat. This means that lowering the intake of sodium and starch, helps the body to reduce* fluid retention thereby enabling you to lose* a maximum of 5 pounds of fluids once you start your weight loss* program.

It is recommended that you eat a diet that contains fewer starches, animal fats derived from meat and other dairy products as well as added sugars. Losing weight faster requires you to focus mainly on veggies, soy, egg whites, and fruits, fish, and poultry breasts (skinless), lean meat and shellfish in addition to dairy foods that contain no fats.

  • Eating big amounts of vegetables to keep you full
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Stay away from tempting foods
  • Keep yourself busy to help you avoid eating when you feel idle
  • Avoid skipping meals

Weight loss* is actually an act of balancing the number of calories you consume and burn at the same time. Weight loss*, in this case, revolves around burning more calories. You can opt to reduce* calorie intake and practice regularly. The most important thing is for you to understand the weight loss* equation so as to achieve your goals. It is also vital to come up with a suitable weight loss* program for your course.

However, before embarking on your weight loss* journey, it is advisable that you involve your healthcare provider. Besides, you can talk to your friends or family members. Understanding how you can cope with ensuing challenges is critically important. This helps you find solutions to minor setbacks that may prove inevitable.

People with serious health issues resulting from their body weight are advised to seek advice from their doctors who may suggest weight loss* surgery or other kinds of medications.

The doctor will help you weigh the benefits and risks in the whole program. It is also good to note that, whatever the case, the bottom line of all these is to be committed to making long-lasting changes to your diet and exercise lifestyle.

House cleaning, making the bed, going shopping, gardening and mowing are some of the physical exercises that can hasten your weight loss*. Exercise is basically a well-organized and repetitive type of physical activity done regularly.

It doesn’t really matter the type of exercise you choose; do it on a regular basis.

You can target at least working out for 150 minutes every week (moderate exercise) or 75 minutes per week for extreme physical activities. The more you exercise, the more calories you are likely to burn faster.

You Asked: What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight?

If you’re hoping to drop a few pounds for an upcoming vacation, the old “calories in, calories out” method can be effective. Combine a meager diet with lots of exercise, and in the short term your body will plunder its fat stores in search of energy. You’ll lose weight—maybe even a lot of weight, depending on how much you were eating and exercising before you got going.

But veteran dieters know, and lots of research shows, that nearly all calorie-restriction plans ultimately fail. Most people gain their old weight back, and then some.

“The long-term success rate of obesity treatment is abysmal, which is why every year we have new diets and weight-loss treatments, along with a billion-dollar weight-loss industry,” says Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist and professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

In his new book Always Hungry?, Ludwig attacks the conventional wisdom that assumes eating less is the key to losing weight.

When you cut back calories, your body fights back in a number of ways, he says. First and foremost, you get hungry. “Hunger is very powerful and very primal,” he says (as anyone who’s ever felt “hangry” knows). “You can ignore it for a few days or weeks or months, or trick it by drinking lots of water or going for a walk, but it’s very hard to ignore it permanently.”

While you’re feeling famished, your metabolic rate also drops as your body attempts to conserve energy. This means you’ll naturally burn fewer calories, so you’ll have to cut even more of them from your diet in order to keep the scale on a downward trajectory, Ludwig explains.

How fast can i lose weight without eating

Do this long enough, and eventually your brain will assume you’re starving (because to some extent, you are). At that point, it will trigger biological responses that tell your fat cells to start storing whatever calories they can get their hands on, which is exactly what you’re trying to prevent in the first place.

“In all these ways, traditional diets work against your body and your biology,” Ludwig says. “You need to work with your body for sustained weight loss.”

How do you do that? You need to eat more of the right types of foods, Ludwig says. In particular, he says healthy sources of dietary fat—like avocados, olive oil, full-fat dairy, nuts and nut butters, full-fat salad dressings and real dark chocolate—are your greatest weight-loss allies.

For two weeks, try to load up your diet with these foods while cutting refined carbs, including chips, pretzels, cookies, breads and other processed snacks, as well as starchy vegetables like potatoes. Hunger will subside, while your body will lose its motivation to store fat, Ludwig says. Non-starchy vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, beans, and other whole foods are all on the menu. “You can eat until you feel full,” Ludwig says.

Other experts agree the right sources of fat help promote weight loss. By increasing fullness and quelling hunger, “healthy fats make weight loss comfortable,” says Dr. Lydia Bazzano, a professor of nutrition at Tulane University. Her research into various diets shows the weight-loss benefits of replacing unhealthy carbohydrates with healthy fats.

After two weeks, you can add back in small amounts of starchy vegetables and whole grains—stuff like steel-cut oats, quinoa, buckwheat, and all those “old-world” whole grains, Ludwig says.

A pilot study based on this diet shows people lost up to 2 pounds a week—without the hunger or across-the-board restriction favored by conventional diets. Eventually, once your weight reaches a new, lower “set point,” you can add back in small amounts of processed carbs,” Ludwig says. Your diet should more or less resemble a Mediterranean-style eating plan—the kind linked to so many brain and body benefits.

It’s not radical or extreme. But if your goal is healthy, sustainable weight loss, this is the kind of diet the latest science supports.

You’re probably wondering, “What about exercise?!” For so many different reasons, regular exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind. But absent major diet changes, most research shows exercise alone won’t lead to more than a couple pounds of dropped weight.

Still, if you’re wondering which workouts will best support your diet-driven weight-loss goals, research suggests high-intensity physical activity is best. Think short bursts of all-out sprinting or cycling, rather than extended runs or rides. All exercise is good for you. But these bouts of super-intense activity have been linked to blood-sugar changes that support lower body weights.

This Is How Long It Really Takes To Lose Weight

Plus 4 reasons why your weight just won’t budge.

You’ve just started a new workout routine and eating a more healthy diet (after noticing those jeans have in fact not shrunk, *sigh*), and you’re asking this one important question: How long does it take to lose weight?

Is it a few days? Please, be yes. A few weeks? A few months?

To get the answer we all want to know, The Huffington Post Australia spoke to two health experts — dietitian and sports nutritionist Robbie Clark and trainer Daine McDonald.

“Physiologically speaking, to lose weight you must burn more calories (through physical activity) than you eat or drink,” Clark told HuffPost Australia.

“Basic body functions (breathing, nerve function, manufacturing cells, blood circulation and maintaining body temperature) use 50-70 percent of your calories or energy. The rate at which your body uses calories/energy for basic body functions at rest is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR).”

Additional factors that strongly determine your BMR include your genes, age, gender and body composition.

“Therefore, much of your energy use is predetermined,” Clark explained. “However, the amount of energy you burn each day also depends on how much exercise you do (intensity, type and duration).”

Once we consume more than our bodies need over a period of time, this then turns into weight gain.

How long it takes to lose weight

While this depends on the individual as every person’s body and goals are different to one another, if you begin to exercise three times a week and eat a healthy diet, you may find you lose weight quickly.

“There is no calculation for this as every individual is different and how their body responds to exercise will differ, as well,” Clark said.

If an individual is significantly overweight and has more weight to lose than the average person who wants to lose five kilograms, they might lose more weight more quickly, Clark explained. However, this weight loss may be a combination of fluid loss and fat loss.

“For someone who has started exercising three times a week and eating a healthier diet, they may expect to lose one kilogram in 1½-2 weeks,” he said. “This is also dependant on the type of exercise they are performing and the duration and intensity of their training.”

McDonald agrees, explaining that your ‘training age’ has a lot to do with how much weight you can lose.

“[Weight loss] really depends on where you are starting at in terms of your base level of physique. By that I mean what is your training age, which is the number of years you have trained for,” McDonald told HuffPost Australia.

“An example might be if you had not trained in years and put on 20 kilograms of weight, in particular around the midsection. Once you got into a routine of training, say four times per week and living by the 80/20 rule with your nutrition (80 percent good food and 20 percent bad), no doubt you would see a noticeable shift by the end of the first fortnight by potentially a few kilograms.”

For someone who is new to training and doing 3-4 sessions per week while eating correctly, you can expect to lose anywhere between 0.5-2kg per week, depending on just how much weight they need to lose.

However, if you had been already training three times per week and eating well, and decided to ramp it up to 5-6 exercise sessions per week and refine your food, then you may find a much smaller amount of results.

“There is no magic formula when it comes to predicting weight or fat loss,” McDonald said. “In saying that, from experience, for someone who is new to training and doing 3-4 sessions per week while eating correctly, you can expect to lose anywhere between 0.5-2 kilograms per week, depending on just how much weight they need to lose.

“The main things to remember are that, if you are serious about results, you want to train four times per week ideally and follow the 80/20 rule above. This alone should make a different to your body composition and overall health.”

Why it’s harder to lose weight than to gain it

As we all know, it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. While this is primarily due to habit (if we’re used to eating cake every day, it’s ridiculously hard to stop), according to Clark and McDonald, there are a few other reasons why it can be difficult to shift weight.

Lifestyle choices

“I think it’s important to note that the biology of weight loss and weight maintenance is a complex process,” Clark explained. “There are so many factors that contribute to overweight and obesity such as diet, inactivity, genetics, smoking, motivation, alcohol consumption, stress, poor sleep hygiene, occupation, environment and hormone imbalance, to name a few.”

Underlying health issues

“If you are struggling to lose weight, it’s important to rule out any underlying causes first and foremost,” Clark said. “There could be a medical reason for your struggle such as a chronic health condition like cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, or a hormone imbalance such as your thyroid, sex hormones, insulin or cortisol.”

Stress

“In today’s world I believe the biggest factor that influences weight gain is stress, both physiological and psychological,” McDonald told HuffPost Australia.

“When your stress hormones such as cortisol are elevated in your body for prolonged periods of time it limits your body’s ability to burn body fat, so when you factor in work stress, family stress, training stress, financial stress and so on, people end up being in an overly stressed and exhausted state.

“Over time this can lead to a large build up of visceral fat, which can be hard to shake.”

Dieting and ageing

Although dieting can be a tempting method of quickly losing weight, Clark said the negative effects of dieting far outweigh the positive.

“Other factors that contribute to difficulties losing weight include regular yo-yo dieting, mindless eating, sedentary lifestyle and slowing metabolism that comes with age,” Clark said.

“These factors predominately influence your hormone function, which plays a major role in your body’s ability to lose weight.

“For example, weight cycling or yo-yo dieting can change your physiology. A reason for this is that through constant dieting your hunger hormone (ghrelin) increases and your fullness hormone (leptin) decreases. As a result, you will feel hungrier and less satiated every time you eat.”

How to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way

In order to lose weight safely and in a way that you will actually be able to follow for more than a week, Clark and McDonald recommend the following.

1. Be realistic with your weight loss goals

“A guide to follow for safe and sustainable weight loss is to aim for 0.5–1 kilogram per week. In order to lose one kilogram per week, you would need to burn and reduce your dietary intake by approximately 1,000 calories per day,” Clark said.

If you’re thinking 1,000 calories per day is completely unachievable, it equates to a one hour HIIT session (around 800 calories) and eating one less snack (around 200 calories).

“Having said this, it is also important that you create as much food variety as possible so you don’t put yourself at risk of malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies.”

2. Avoid dieting and skipping meals

Not only is skipping meals bad for your mood, energy levels and overall health, but it can also affect the way you eat later on.

“If you do skip meals, you are more likely to eat more when you do eat, and this may lead to a larger stomach capacity,” Clark said.

“Crash dieting is a short term solution that will increase your body fat levels in the long term due to your body lowering its metabolic rate as a result.”

3. Exercise regularly

“Train four times per week for 45-60 minutes per workout,” McDonald said. “While three times per week is good, four times per week is much better.”

For best results, Clark recommends doing a combination of resistance (weight) training and cardiovascular training.

“Think of strength training as the main course at a restaurant — cardio and yoga are all the equivalent of an entrée. So strength training is the foundation of health and fitness,” McDonald added.

“To stay in shape you need to teach your body to be healthy — by being consistent with your training and nutrition week in and week out.”

4. Cut down on the refined carbs

“Refined carbohydrates such as cake, biscuits, cookies, muffins, chips, cupcakes, soft drink, fruit juice and most supermarket breads will make you store fat if not burned off,” Clark explained.

5. Watch your portions

“Be cautious of portion size of main meals and snacks — always eat to 80 percent full before returning for seconds,” Clark said.

6. Avoid drinking your calories

“Don’t drink your calories — avoid beverages that contain ’empty’ calories and don’t fill you up such as soft drinks, large fruit juices and energy drinks,” Clark said.

7. It’s never too late to start (or to try again)

“Health is in the mind, so remember you are never too late to start and it is never too late to rekindle your passion for health and fitness,” McDonald said.

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