If you want to lose weight, it’s easier to cut 1,000 calories from your diet than to burn 1,000 calories through exercise. To cut 1,000 calories you would reduce your calorie intake or switch to high protein low calorie meal replacements. To burn 1,000 calories you would have to run at 8 mph for one hour or do 2 hours of high impact aerobics.

It’s what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that has more influence in getting thin. Focus on your diet and you can expect 3 times greater results than if you just focus on exercise alone.

There’s no getting around your tab of calories in and calories out. Most people overestimate their physical activity by 30% and underestimate their food intake by 30%. Following a low calorie plan has been shown to promote weight loss more effectively than exercise and physical activity. But physical activity is important in maintaining your weight and for your health.

So which is the best way to A) get slim and B) stay slim?

To get slim your best bet is to focus on your diet – a low calorie plan can get you to where you want to be fast. A good low calorie plan will be nutritionally complete and delicious. If you want to increase physical activity, try more walking or a good toning exercise like pilates. Once you’ve reached your goal weight, increase your level of physical activity and try out different exercises so you find one you enjoy.

Low calorie plans to lose weight

Do you want to get slim? the key is to burn more calories than you eat.

3,500 calories equates to around 1 pound of fat (0.45 kilograms), so in order to lose 1 pound in weight you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. For example if you drop 500 calories from your diet each day, you’d lose around 1 pound a week – based on 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories or 1 pound lost.

For most people burning this amount of calories through exercise would be too hard. This is why dieting is usually more effective to lose weight than exercise.

If you were going to burn 3,500 calories through exercise you’d have to run at 8 mph for 3 and a half hours or do high impact aerobics for 6 and a half hours.

Exercise is very important, and can help you maintain your new weight. However exercise can cancel out the benefits of dieting as it may increase your hunger which means that you may end up increasing your calories.

Diet and exercise to lose weight

You can absolutely combine diet and exercise to lose weight but it’s best to build up your exercise, but consider starting with increasing your level of physical activity first. Then try a good toning exercise like pilates.

If you start a whole new routine of diet and exercise you may get overwhelmed and find it hard to follow through.

Doing too much exercise is also likely to make you hungry which may cancel out the benefit of burning those calories off in the first place through exercise. You may get fed up and want to throw the towel in.

You need to eat enough to have the energy to get through your workouts but not so much that you increase your calories and end up putting weight on.

People stick with a low calorie diet more easily than exercise to lose weight. Check out more information about the diet and exercise equation.

Exercise only to lose weight

There is no question that exercise is great for your health, but if your goal is to lose weight, then your best bet is to start with a healthy diet. And a low calorie plan will give you the results you need. When you’re losing weight, feel better and have more energy, become more physically active.

Yes, exercise does burn calories and you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise also has the effect of stimulating hunger. This causes us to eat more which cancels out the hard earned calorie burn. So what does this mean? well it means that exercise does not necessarily help you lose weight, and it can make it harder.

We may even want to reward ourselves with a high calorie or unhealthy snack after a hard trip to the gym. And it’s easy to eat more calories than the amount you just burned off. Many people eat more after starting to exercise than before, either because the exercise made them hungry or they wanted to reward themselves, or both. The other effect is that you can feel like you need more rest after working out and end up being less active for the rest of your day.

You have to build up your exercise too, for example if you are stationary most of your day and have 30 minute vigorous sessions at the gym then you will be putting a lot of stress on your body. You may benefit from building up with lower level frequent activity first, spread throughout your day.

People who are obese already burn off more calories per day than someone of average weight, sometimes almost 1000 more calories per day due to the extra energy required in movement.

How many calories does exercise burn?

Exercise is not equal. Here is an example of Calories burned per hour based on a person weighing 11 and a half stone or 160 pounds:

986 calories burned: Running at 8mph for one hour
913 calories burned: Rollerblading for one hour
730 calories burned: Tae Kwon Do for one hour
730 calories burned: Jump rope for one hour
657 calories burned: Stair treadmill for one hour
584 calories burned: Jogging at 5mph for one hour
511 calories burned: Backpacking for one hour
511 calories burned: Racquetball for one hour
511 calories burned: Cross-country skiing for one hour
511 calories burned: High-impact aerobics for one hour
Source: Mayo Clinic Exercise for Weight Loss chart

So what’s the best way to lose weight and keep it off?

To lose weight start with a low calorie plan until you see the results you want. Increase your level of physical activity as you go along and add in low impact toning exercise like pilates. This will help you tone up and lose weight faster and easier as you won’t be making yourself hungry through exercise.

To maintain your new weight, focus on a healthy diet, and lead an active life. This doesn’t just mean 30 minute sessions at the gym, but a physically active life that goes beyond brief bursts of exercise. It’s about getting away from a sedentary lifestyle.

Look at your overall lifestyle, like sleep, stress, diet, exercise and physical activity. Exercise enhances your heart health and prevents disease, and reduces your stress. See where you can add in more physical activity and find an exercise you enjoy.

This will help you to get to where you want to be faster and more easily.

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