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Dieting - How much dieting is actually necessary to achieve results?

Q

"Hello!

I have noticed in the past that sometimes people don't actually diet or exercise that much and yet still manage to shed the pounds they were looking to shed. What are they doing differently? How much dieting [or exercising] is actually necessary to achieve results?

- Vanessa R."

A

Hello Vanessa!

Honestly, it varies with the person obviously, but the quick and easy answer is "not that much".

People can sometimes achieve amazing results just by reducing their caloric intake to the recommended amount for their body type (if they were over eating this will be more difficult for them to do because they will get cravings for their favourite foods) and combining their new "reasonable and balanced diet" with an exercise routine - something simple like jogging for 30 minutes every day or doing yoga for 30 minutes, or swimming, bicycling, or any kind of cardio activity.

30 minutes out of every day is a tiny portion of the 1,440 minutes a person has available in a day - we use 480 minutes just for sleeping. 30 minutes is only 2% of your day, but that 2% can make amazing differences if you use it for exercising.

For food it is all about calories in and calories out. The average female only needs approx. 1800 calories per day, and the average male only needs about 2000 calories per day. The exact number a person needs varies with their body type and their level of physical activity, which is usually based on their occupation. Athletes for example often consume 2500 to 3000 calories per day because they need the extra energy. But for the Average Joe, those numbers are unnecessary extra calories.

Unfortunately many people often eat out at restaurants, order pizzas, snack on junk food, etc - and their diet might be closer to 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day.

Let's pretend you're a man who we will call Average Joe who only needs 2,000 calories per day. At his normal weight he weighs 170 lbs.

But Joe likes eating junk food regularly and consumes closer to 2,100 calories per day, but he is only burning 2,000 calories per day during his daily activities.

Now here is the important part: 1 lb of fat is 3,500 calories.

Ergo if Joe keeps eating an extra 100 calories per day he will gain 1 pound every 35 days. He would gain roughly 11 lbs of fat in a year - and possibly start developing health problems if he does this over many years without changing his routine. In a single year (plus overeating during Xmas) he might go from 170 lbs to 185 lbs.

But lets pretend that Average Joe decided he wanted to reverse the process. By going on a healthy diet, and only eating 2,000 calories per day.

Joe's weight would then stabilize and stop going up. He would stay at 185.

Now he could try reducing his diet to 1,900 calories (or lower, which is problematic for your health if you go below 1,500) and would lose weight doing that (some of that would be muscle mass however, due to a loss of protein in his diet).

A better solution for Joe is to maintain that 2,000 calories / day routine - but ADD more exercise to his routine.

So for example if Joe weighed 185 lbs and then got into cycling and cycled 6 miles (or 10 km) every day then he would burn approx. 350 calories each time. (Note: It takes approx. 25 to 30 minutes to cycle that far at a leisurely pace - it isn't even cycling that fast.)

At 350 calories per day Joe would lose 1 lb (3500 calories) every ten days.

Which means Joe could be back at being 170 lb "Average Joe" in only 150 days.

And have more muscular legs to show for it. So truth be told he might actually be closer to 175 lbs, because he might put on 5 lbs of muscle (or more).

Note also that Joe could have also just skipped the diet and gone straight to cycling. At 2,100 calories - 350 calories, Joe would be losing 250 per day. Or 1 lb every 14 days. Thus it would take him longer to lose the weight, but he would eventually achieve his results (and still be able to enjoy the snacks he loves).

Eventually Joe would reach his goal and then would actually need to either decrease his cycling or increase his eating habits to balance his exercise activities with his diet. Preferably with healthier food so he puts on more muscle.

He might even add weightlifting to his exercise routine later - becoming a cycling and weightlifting aficionado. No longer is he "Average Joe". He would become "Hunky Joe".

So yes, back to Vanessa's question, people can make dramatic changes with relatively minor (but permanent) changes to their diet and exercise routine. It is really just a matter of math. Calories in vs calories out.

Note - The guy in the photo below is just a model. His legs are too skinny to be a cyclist.



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