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If you want to lose weight, you'll have to eat less

Everyone wants to lose weight, but most don't know how. This series will help you take it off and keep it off

In my 14 years' experience in the fitness industry, all types of clients have listed weight loss as one of their primary goals. Obviously out of shape and overweight clients sought my services to lose weight but I've also had the leanest of marathoners tell me they wanted to lose five or 10 pounds.

Which is Better, Diet or Exercise?

To lose weight you're going to have to burn more energy (calories) than you're taking in. This may seem like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised at prevalence of the notion that calories don't matter.

You can do this by either (1) increasing the intensity and/or amount of exercise you do, (2) eating less or (3) doing both.

While exercise alone can cause a modest reduction in weight, eating less is a more effective way to reducing your weight. So depending on your circumstances, you should reduce your caloric intake or eat less and increase your activity level. I'll expand more on this in part three of this series.

No Best Diet

The diet industry is worth billions of dollars. Every year more diet books hit the bookshelves and tablets promising the magic cure to losing weight.

But as I've written before in this post and this one, the type of diet you follow doesn't really matter. Almost every diet will work, in the short term at least.  

And while some diets may promote the notion that you can eat as much as you want as long as you eat the "right" type of foods, don't be fooled by that statement. If a diet eliminates or minimizes a particular food such as starches, fat, sweets, meat or whatever, you're in effect going to be cutting calories.

If a diet says you won't be counting calories but gives you a point system or delivers pre-packaged meals made to specific serving sizes, you're cutting calories.

Let me be crystal clear about this. If you want to lose weight, you'll have to change your eating habits and eat less.

One simple way to eat less regardless of which diet you follow is to eat slowly. This can help you prevent overeating by allowing your brain to process the signals from your body telling you when you're full.

A Note about Exercise

While exercise may not be great on its own for weight loss, there are plenty of other benefits to participating in regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:

  • Think better
  • Improve insulin resistance.
  • Reverse or prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  • Protect against some types of cancer.
  • Help with depression.
  • Improve your immune system
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Delay the effects of aging.

Combining diet and exercise provides a synergistic effect. Think of it this way; eat for weight loss, exercise for health.