Have you ever experienced this?
You’re ready to get serious about losing weight, so you hit the gym. Maybe you sign up for a workout challenge from your favorite IG influencer or Facebook page.
You spend 45 minutes to an hour doing intense cardio until you’re ready to collapse every single day.
You’re in pain for days so you know you’ve been putting in work. This is a sign of a good workout, right?
You step on the scale, excited to see all of your progress, and…nothing. The scale has barely moved if at all. You may have even gained weight.
You feel dejected, frustrated, and maybe even a little embarrassed. Here we go again.
Sound familiar? It’s not your fault – we’ve been conditioned to believe that intense exercise is the answer when we want to lose weight.
But here’s the problem – as the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
Here’s what that means:
A recent study from Harvard found that a combo meal from a takeout restaurant has on average 1,193 calories, and as many as 1,685 calories.
According to the CDC, a 154 lb person burns approximately 480 calories with an hour of vigorous cardio.
As you can see, even intense exercise may not be enough to move the needle depending on what your diet is like.
Also, intense exercise increases hunger, which isn’t inherently a bad thing – unless you’re working on losing weight. If weight loss is your goal, you want to keep your hunger levels pretty steady for obvious reasons.
Finally, over exercising can cause depression, anxiety, sleep issues, difficulty losing weight, increased cravings, and even loss of your menstrual cycle. As with anything, too much of a good thing is never good – even when it comes to healthy habits like exercise.
The good news is that when you know better you can do better. Replacing even one takeout meal per week with a home cooked meal made with healthier ingredients could make a big difference.
The bottom line is that while moderate exercise is 100% a good thing for your body and your mental health, changing your diet is key when you want to lose weight.
Get started by incorporating enough lean protein, vegetables, smart carbs and healthy fats into your diet. Eat the right amount for your body and activity level. Cook at home as much as possible, and when you do get takeout, choose wisely.
With the right combination of dietary change and movement, you’ll start to see the results you’re looking for.
Calorie and Nutrient Profile of Combination Meals at U.S. Fast Food and Fast Casual Restaurants
Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight