Your Sleep Stress And Workload Are Working Against You
Chronic stress and sleep deprivation can hinder weight loss progress.
- You wake up motivated and ready to seize the day. You have plans for a post-work interval run and your healthy, prepped dinner is waiting in the fridge for you.
- A few hours into the day, your lack of sleep catches up with you. You reach for the afternoon coffee.
- You’re tired and maybe a little stressed or moody, so you nix the healthy dinner and hit a drive-through instead — because comfort food.
This is OK if it happens occasionally , but weight loss will seem impossible if this happens all the time.
The truth is, nutrition and exercise are only two components of a healthy life that can lead to weight loss. While important, too strong of a focus on nutrition and exercise can cause you to overlook other factors that are just as important: sleep and stress management.
The Government And The Food Industry Are Doling Out Unscientific Advice
Since 1980, the obesity prevalence has doubled worldwide, with about 13 percent of the global population now registering as obese, according to the WHO. In the United States, nearly 70 percent of the population is either overweight or obese.
A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the crisis. But as researchers put it in an article in BMJ, “You cannot outrun a bad diet.”
Since at least the 1950s, Americans have been told that we can. This Public Health Reports paper outlines the dozens of government departments and organizations from the American Heart Association to the US Department of Agriculture whose campaigns suggested more physical activity to reverse weight gain.
Unfortunately, we are losing the obesity battle because we are eating more than ever. But the exercise myth is still regularly deployed by the food and beverage industry which are increasingly under fire for selling us too many unhealthy products.
“Physical activity is vital to the health and well-being of consumers,” Coca-Cola says. The company has been aligning itself with exercise since the 1920s, and was recently exposed by the New York Times for funding obesity researchers who emphasize a lack of physical activity as the cause of the epidemic.
Physical activity and diet should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate
In other words, we can lose sight of the fact that it’s mostly too much food that’s making us fat.
Energy Expenditure Might Have An Upper Limit
Another hypothesis about why it’s hard to lose weight through exercise alone is that energy expenditure plateaus at a certain point. In another Pontzer paper, published in 2016 in the journal Current Biology, he and his colleagues found evidence of an upper limit.
They cast a wide geographic net, recruiting 332 adults from Ghana, South Africa, Seychelles, Jamaica, and the United States. Tracking the study participants for eight days, they gathered data on physical activity and energy burned using accelerometers. They classified people into three types: the sedentary folks, the moderately active , and the super active . Importantly, these were people who were already doing a certain amount of activity, not people who were randomized to working out at various levels.
Here, physical activity accounted for only 7 to 9 percent of the variation in calories burned among the groups. Moderately active people burned more energy than people who were sedentary , but above that, the energy used up seemed to hit a wall.
“After adjusting for body size and composition,” the researchers concluded in the study, “total energy expenditure was positively correlated with physical activity, but the relationship was markedly stronger over the lower range of physical activity.”
In other words, after a certain amount of exercise, you don’t keep burning calories at the same rate: Total energy expenditure may eventually plateau.
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Is Strength Training Alone Enough For Fat Loss: Conclusion
So, there you have itcountless studies referenced and six experts in their field sharing their unique takes on whether strength training alone is enough for fat loss.
Their verdict? As WH are sure you can see, its a mixed bag. Whilst strength training is undoubtedly good for increasing your resting metabolic rate, aka your metabolism, helping build lean muscle, you really cant out-train a bad diet or expect yourself to eat healthily if youre not getting any sleep. Sure, strength training is good for fat loss, but the winning combination of training, fuelling and resting will help you lose the most fat overall.
As Herbert puts it, Often people want a quick fix when it comes to fat loss, but a balanced approach really is the key to both building a healthy body and life-long health.’
How To Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated offers many benefits, explains dietitian Jill Irvine at the University of Washington. In addition to helping your blood flow more smoothly, being well hydrated also lubricates your joints, cushions your spine, helps your skin stay supple and supports both digestion and elimination.
Signs of dehydration include irritability, fatigue, headache, dizziness, dark-colored urine, fuzzy thinking and dry mouth, explains Irvine. Feeling thirsty is actually a sign that you are already mildly dehydrated, so take it seriously and grab a glass of water or a water-high fruit such as watermelon or grapefruit or vegetables such as cucumbers, celery, lettuce or zucchini.
Irvine recommends water for effective hydration, but all beverages count. Men should drink 13 cups of liquid per day and women should aim for 9 cups. Drink more than that if you work out a lot or live in a very hot, dry climate. Good beverage choices include hot or iced coffee or tea, herbal tisanes, fruit juices, sparkling water and broth. It is best to avoid sodas of all kinds because of their high sugar content.
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Dieting Causes Fat And Muscle Loss
Ideally, when you lose weight, youre looking to lose fat. Excess body fat can lead to a whole host of problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and unnecessary strain on your joints.
Eating healthier will help you lose fat, but if you are not also exercising, your body will begin to shed muscle as well as fat, and thats when things begin to go off the rails.
When you diet for weight loss, what youre ultimately looking to do is change your overall body composition.
You want your muscle to fat ratio to move in the right direction .
If youre losing muscle and fat at the same time, you might be maintaining that ratio, even as the scale moves down.
This can be a problem, because the less muscle mass you have, the harder it becomes to continue losing weight.
At a certain point, your body will want to hold on to its remaining muscle mass, and your weight loss will stall.
If you want to avoid this, just make sure you are involved in a strength training routine while you are dieting, and you will not have to worry about losing muscle!
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Why It’s So Difficult To Lose Weight: The Hard Truths Holding You Back
Losing weight is more than just what you eat or how you exercise.
Weight loss is hard. It’s even tougher when you fall victim to these hard truths.
On paper, losing weight is simple it’s about burning more calories than you eat each day. But in practice, it’s anything but easy for most people. Aside from the obvious reasons — food is delicious, exercise is hard and time is short — there are many other factors that affect weight loss and that many people don’t even know they fall victim to. These six mistakes can definitely hinder your weight loss progress, but if you go into 2022 aware of them, you’ll avoid common weight loss pitfalls.
Cutting Out Foods Just Results In Bingeing
Cutting bread, sugar, or anything else you enjoy out of your diet is not a good idea as you’ll only end up bingeing on it. Do you want to cut those delicious foods out forever? Didn’t think so.
While you may think you “can’t do” moderation , you can if you stop demonizing the food. There’s no such thing as “good” and “bad” foods, although, yes, there are more and less nutrient-dense foods.
For me, it’s also helped to think of foods in terms of macros are they a source of protein, carbs, or fats? So a bar of chocolate is a carb, just like a banana or oats, and they can all be part of a healthy diet.
If you love doughnuts, you don’t have to give them up forever to lose weight, and this can make them easier to resist when your colleague brings in a box of Krispy Kremes you know what they taste like, you’ll eat doughnuts at a later point in your life, you don’t need to eat one just because they’re there. But at the same time, if you really want a doughnut, just eat one and enjoy it!
If you feel like you’re punishing yourself, it’s never going to work.
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You Miss Out On The Positive Metabolic Effects Of Exercise
Participating in regular exercise can help burn calories, boost weight loss, and offer other important metabolic benefits.
Metabolic benefits refer to how your body converts the foods you eat into energy. Having more lean muscle and less body fat helps your body burn more calories while at rest, which is advantageous when youre looking to lose weight (
- improvements in muscle and bone mass
- improvements in insulin sensitivity, a key marker of carbohydrate metabolism
- increased resting metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn at rest
- the prevention of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and artery disease
Still, the specific metabolic effects depend on the type of exercise performed.
For example, a 2015 review of 66 studies looked at various treatment methods for adults with overweight, including different types of exercise .
They found that resistance exercise was especially important for promoting fat loss and supporting lean muscle mass.
Also, participating in regular resistance exercises has been shown to promote healthy bone and muscle mass .
This is especially important as you age, as both muscle mass and bone density start to slowly decline after the age of 30 .
Its also important to include some endurance exercise, such as walking, running, cycling, or swimming, as doing so has been shown to boost heart health and decrease the risk of many diseases .
To Lose Weight Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercising More
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One of my familys favorite shows is The Biggest Loser. Although some viewers dont appreciate how it pushes people so hard to lose weight, the show probably inspires some overweight people to regain control of their lives.
But one of the most frustrating parts of the show, at least for me, is its overwhelming emphasis on exercise. Because when it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you dont eat is much, much more important.
Think about it this way: If an overweight man is consuming 1,000 more calories than he is burning and wants to be in energy balance, he can do it by exercising. But exercise consumes far fewer calories than many people think. Thirty minutes of jogging or swimming laps might burn off 350 calories. Many people, fat or fit, cant keep up a strenuous 30-minute exercise regimen, day in and day out. They might exercise a few times a week, if that.
Or they could achieve the same calorie reduction by eliminating two 16-ounce sodas each day.
Proclamations that people need to be more active are ubiquitous in the media. The importance of exercise for proper weight management is reinforced when people bemoan the loss of gym class in schools as a cause of the obesity epidemic. Michelle Obamas Lets Move program places the focus on exercise as a critical component in combating excess weight and obesity.
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Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin
The following correction was printed in the Observer’s For the record column, Sunday 26 September 2010
Dr Timothy Church is at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre of Louisiana State University, which is not affiliated to the University of Louisiana
My mum used to complain that she couldn’t lose weight. A size 18 and a couple of stone heavier than ideal, she tried in vain for years to shed the extra. Every week she headed to the gym, where she pounded the treadmill like a paratrooper, often three times a week. Most days she took the dog for a brisk, hour-long walk. She didn’t eat unhealthily the rest of the family ate exactly the same meals, and did a fraction of the exercise she did. She ought to have been the slimmest of the bunch: that she remained overweight was a frustration to her, and a mystery to all of us.
From StairMasters to kettlebells, Rosemary Conley to Natalie Cassidy, we understand and expect that getting in shape is going to require serious effort on our part and the reverse is true, too, that we expect exercise to pay back the hours of boring, sweaty graft with a leaner, lighter body. Since the days of the Green Goddess, we’ve known that the healthiest way to lose weight is through exercise. It’s science, isn’t it?
Energy In: Diet By The Numbers
According to Harvard calculations, a 70kg person who runs at 10km/h for 30 minutes will burn 372 calories. Many people will struggle to sustain that level of effort, let alone keep up it up every day.
But you could achieve the same energy deficit just by cutting out cheeky daily snacks a can of Coca-Cola and two Tim Tams in the evening , for example or by slightly reducing the portions of your dinner then having Greek yoghurt for dessert instead of high-end ice-cream .
So which sounds more do-able: a gruelling stint of exercise, or small changes to what you eat?
Mosley believes that understanding how many calories are in food, and how little of those calories are burned off by exercise, is an important lesson for those keen to lose weight particularly because many of us are guilty of exercising and then rewarding ourselves with food, thereby undoing the calories lost in the workout.
If you are aware of how many calories youre actually burning during exercise compared to what youre taking in from food, then you may have the willpower to say, No, I wont have that 400-calorie muffin after all, he says.
It makes you realise that to burn off all the calories youre probably going to have to run for about an hour, or something like that.
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Excellent Reasons To Exercise
There are two basic types of exercise. The first is cardiovascular exercise. This raises your heart rate, which helps you burn calories, increases blood flow throughout your body and strengthens your heart and lungs. Cardio includes walking, running, swimming, bicycling and fun stuff such as dancing or taking an aerobics class. Basically, anything that raises your heart rate and keeps it there for a period of time qualifies as cardio.
Weight training is just what it sounds like, and it can involve free weights, weight and resistance machines at a gym or even your own body weight. Weight training generally involves short bursts of effort and does not raise your heart rate the same way or for the same amount of time as cardio does. What it does do is build lean muscle mass, which makes your body burn more calories even when you are at rest.
The fitness experts at Concordia University – Saint Paul recommend that you do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio every week to maintain your weight and more than that if you are trying to lose weight. The university also recommends that you do at least two days per week of weight training.
Can You Lose Weight With Just Strength Training And Do So Without Bulking Up
Strength training does not shed body fat in and of itself. Rather, it builds muscle mass and increases metabolism, burning excess calories and reducing body fat.
It is unlikely that most people could shed a significant amount of excess weight simply by using weight training methods. But in conjunction with monitoring food intake, strength training can be very effective.
One of the best things about weight training is that you dont need to bulk up like a professional bodybuilder to see effective results. Youre not necessarily looking to be big and bulky your goal is to simply add a little bit of leanness and mass.
Once muscles are toned, continuing strength training will maintain their mass and make for an efficient metabolism.
Strength training, by definition, requires that stress is put on the muscle groups you want to train. This is most often done using weights. However, dont buy into the common myth that weight training will turn you into an over-sized muscle builder.
The human body, especially for women, is not built in such a way that allows for such intense muscle growth with moderate strength training. The fact is that bodybuilders train for years and use supplements to achieve the physiques they have.
Moderate, everyday weight training will tone your muscles and add a slight amount of mass without bulking you up.
Strength training, combined with proper diet, is the best way to shed unwanted pounds and keep them off.
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