Diet or exercise? Which one should you put more focus on, in order to lose weight?
It’s a question that can confuse the most experienced of dieters. Because to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit – and you can do that either by burning more through exercise, or by consuming less, by dieting. Right?
Contrary to popular belief dieting (aka cutting back calories), and over-exercising are the worst things you can do if you want to lose weight long-term.
Why? Because among other things, this causes your metabolism to slow down and this slower metabolism will persist long after you’ve finished your diet. In fact, researchers believe that this may partly explain why more than 80% of people regain weight, once they come off their diets.
So then, what’s the best way to lose weight?
What influences your weight?
To understand how to lose weight for good, you need to understand what influences your weight. A number of things can impact your weight, but a key factor is your metabolism.
Put simply, your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories or energy. Create the wrong environment and your metabolism will slow down, making it easier for you to gain weight.
Create the right environment, you’ll increase your metabolism, and make it easier to lose weight. You can create the right environment by understanding what influences your metabolism.
METABOLISM AND WEIGHT
There are three main influences on your metabolism:
- Muscle mass – accounting for around 66% of all the energy that’s metabolised each day
- Exercise – accounting for 17% of your total energy expenditure
- Food – this makes up 12% of your daily metabolic rate
The other 5% is used to regulate your body temperature.
Looking at the above, it’s easy to see that the amount of muscle you have has the biggest impact on your metabolism.
But how do you build muscle?
The right type of exercise
The best exercise to build muscle, which will help you lose weight is weight training. However, simply lifting weights isn’t enough. Instead, your weight program needs to be structured and progressive.
We call it FIRE – Focused Intense Resistance Exercise. Progressive overload ensures that there is a gradual increase in weight, in order to change your body shape. It’s also highly structured, meaning you don’t change your program every week or month, depending upon what you feel like doing. Your program should remain reasonably unchangeable, and you should only make small changes if you need to. It’s really about doing what works for your body, rather than what you think might be fun and entertaining.
When it comes to cardio, less is more. Most people turn to cardio exercise when trying to lose weight. And while this has its place, it shouldn’t be your main focus. At Imani Tribe, we incorporate the right amount of ICE – Intense Cardio Exercise, into our clients’ programs in order to maximise fat burning. Where most people go wrong is over-exercising which creates too much stress for the body, making it difficult to lose weight.
You can be forgiven for thinking that cutting back calories and going on a diet is the way to lose weight. After all, this is what we’ve been taught for years. While this might work for a while, you’ll have a lot of trouble maintaining this for the long-term.
That’s because diets are unsustainable. They often cut out food groups and cut back too far when it comes to calorie intake. This decrease in nutrition and energy will prevent you from training effectively, and recovering from your training. If you don’t recover from training, your exercise program won’t be consistent — and it’s consistency you’re aiming for. It will also lead to burnout, sickness and a body that is more prone to injury.
The other problem with diets is they don’t help you develop good habits and skills that you can use for the rest of your life. Diets are usually a ‘quick fix’ — you go on it and come off it again. This means that the habits you have around food will still be there when you come off the diet, making it almost a sure thing that you’ll gain back any weight you’ve lost.
While you do need to create a calorie deficit, it only needs to be small for you to lose weight in a sustainable way. The best eating plan for weight loss is one that will nourish your body, give you the energy you need to train and get through your day, and allow your body to recover.
Don’t forget to rest and recover
One thing that most people forget about is ensuring they have enough time to rest and recover. While regular exercise is important for overall health, and will help you lose weight, you need to factor in enough time to recover from your workouts. This will ensure that your body is ready to train again at your next session, as well as reduce the likelihood of injury. All of this will help you become consistent with your exercise.
The other important factor is sleep. Poor sleep or not enough sleep is a huge barrier to weight loss. Research has shown that poor sleep is related with weight gain and a higher likelihood of obesity in both adults and children. Failing to get enough sleep also puts the body under a lot of stress. And stress makes losing weight difficult as well.
A key factor in our DATSTM Program is getting the right balance between exercise, nutrition (not dieting), and sleep. Because when these work in harmony, you’ll achieve long-lasting weight loss.