You can’t outrun a bad diet!
There is a bundle of evidence that traditional hunter-gatherers, who are substantially more physically active, burn the same number of daily calories as moderately active Americans. The average numbers state that men need around 2600 calories per day. Women need about 1900. Sedentary people obviously need fewer calories each day. That means if you sit for a living, you might need to put the fork down.
We know that exercise in itself has numerous benefits. I’m a HUGE proponent of daily exercise! It helps us to age more gracefully encouraging better moving joints, less inflammation, better heart function and even better immunity. Huge benefits to be sure. But looking to exercise as the only way to lose weight might be a road to frustration. Many of you may have noticed this. “But doctor, I go to the gym 5 days a week and I weigh exactly the same as I did 6 months ago!”
You might be looking at this the wrong way. Try thinking of exercise as a way to make you stronger, more flexible and more fit. Lifting weights can make your muscles grow, making you stronger and that can potentially increase your caloric need. That can potentially allow you to eat more. Routine cardio training can increase your heart and lung capacity dramatically. A good thing for sure! But what about the food??
Think of your eating habits as a road to a better birthday suit. If you need to lose weight and you can’t, you might try to figure out how many calories you actually consume in a day and try dropping it down a few hundred calories. Next you could consider the timing and makeup of your food. For example, consuming a lot of carbohydrate dense food 15 – 30 minutes prior to vigorous exercise can motivate your body to take all that increase in blood sugar and push it into your muscles. GREAT!! If however, you consume the same meal prior to staring at the computer for 3 hours you body will likely store that stuff as fat. Not so great.
When energy needs are lower, like sleeping, watching TV or reading, you don’t need an increase in blood sugar. So keep the carbs lower then. During those times, try focusing on fewer calories made of good fats and proteins. Leave the carbohydrate rich foods for times when you need them. Food is fuel. Eat for what you are about to do.