Losing weight is the same for everyone. You need to burn more calories each day than you eat.
In order to lose 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories. This translates into burning 500 calories more than you eat each day for seven days if you want to lose 1 pound each week. Let’s say you can eat 2,000 calories each day and not gain weight. To lose 1 pound per week, you’ll need to eat 1,500 calories per day, or eat 2,000 calories and burn 500 calories with exercise each day, or reduce some calories and burn some calories.
Diet-Only Doesn’t Work
Trying to lose weight with diet only probably won’t work long term, especially if you’re trying to lose more than 4 pounds per month, because your metabolism might slow down because it thinks you’re not getting enough calories, and once you lose the weight and go back to eating more calories, your metabolism will probably remain in its lowered state to try and “help” you get back to your former weight.
So, if you cut lots of calories without doing extra exercise, your body often fights you as you begin to lose weight, resulting not only in no weight loss, but a rebound that puts more pounds on.
Why does your body fight you? Imagine you are stranded in the desert or jungle with no food. Your body says, “Uh oh, Jane is starving. We need to help her out,” and your metabolism, or the rate at which your heart beats and you burn calories, slows down. So, your body burns fewer calories and lose less weight in order to help you stay alive longer. Also, if you try to lose weight by cutting calories alone, you will be constantly hungry and may overeat while your metabolism is trying to store any calories it gets.
Exercise Only Won’t Work
Trying to lose weight with exercise only doesn’t address the main cause of being overweight—eating too many calories—and you may have to exercise so hard you can’t continue. Or, once you lose the weight you want and then stop exercising, your body reacts by adding the weight back on.
The best way to lose weight and to keep it off is to gradually decrease your calories and increase your metabolism through exercise. Cutting 125 calories per day and doing 125 calories worth of exercise each day will help you lose 26 pounds during the course of a year.
How much is 125 calories? Cutting out 125 calories per day is equal to cutting out half a can of soup. Riding a bike for 30 minutes at a leisurely, 10 mph pace burns roughly 150 calories in a 160 lb. person, according to the Mayo Clinic. Walking at 3.5 mph for 30 minutes will burn about 140 calories.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to control calories and add some exercise. If you stop doing either once you have lost your desired weight, the weight will come back.