Two years ago a young lady in her mid 30's approached me after my workout and very politely asked: "Why can't I lose weight despite doing 60 minutes of aerobics, 3 times a week for a year, what's the secret?"
Here's was my revealing answer:
If a you are overweight, you need to do more than just aerobics to lose weight. Melting off those extra pounds of fat isn't as easy as the aerobic mantra suggests. You don't just start shedding fat once you start doing aerobics and there's a body of scientific evidence that proves; if you want to lose weight you DON'T need to exercise and that you don't need to exercise in order to lose weight. Exercise does burn calories, but it does not encourage weight loss.
The fact is, there is little scientific evidence to show a strong positive correlation between exercise and weight loss. In 2004 the famous research scientist William Kraemer, PHD., of the University of Colorado concluded from one of his studies that calorie control via dieting may be a more effective way to lose fat.
Today, more and more researchers are uncovering evidence that dietary restriction is actually superior to exercise for weight loss. In my last article, I mentioned how the "source of calories" plays an important role in the weigh loss process, but the bottom line is this; while weight gain is proportionally related to the amount of calories consumed, meaning the more calories you consume the greater the weight gain, weight loss is inversely related to the amount of calories consumed, which means the less calories you consume the more weight you will lose( to a point).
But how many calories should I cut to lose weight? Well, you don't need to really worry about that. The key is to determine how many calories you need to eat per day/ per meal and then provide them from the right food sources. Determining one's lean body mass or LBM is critical to the weight loss process( lean body mass is basically your body weight less your body fat. So, if your overall weight is 200 pounds and you determine your body fat is 80 pounds (40%), then your lean body mass is 200-80 = 120 pounds.
By eating "only enough" calories to maintain that muscle mass of 120lbs will create a calorie deficit and the body will pull from its fat reserves to make up the difference. By pulling on its fat reserves for energy you will begin to burn fat and lose weight, but you MUST consume enough calories to at least maintain your lean muscle mass of 120 pounds.
For example, if your basic calorie needs at 200 pounds (how many calories your body needs to maintain this weight without any extra calories to encourage further weight gain) was determined to be say 4,000 calories and to maintain your lean body mass requires 2,400 the deficit would be 4,000 - 2,400 = 1,600 calories a day.
Some people have gone on record as saying that they have cut their calories by 500 a day and still haven't lost any weight. Well, it could be very simple, like this; yes, they have cut their calories by 500, but that cut was only sufficient to stop them from gaining any more weight or gaining less weight than they were before.
If you don't create a calorie deficit, the body will not draw from its fat reserves, it has no reason to as you are providing all the calories it needs right now despite the 500 calorie change. I also encouraged this young lady to switch from 60 minutes of aerobics to 30 minutes of weight lifting.
In fact, she doesn't have to exercise at all to lose weight if she creates a calorie deficit, but by lifting weights her muscles will become more active and begin burning calories even while she is at rest. Not to mention, stronger bones, more elastic skin, better hormone profile, a stronger heart and deeper sleep which equals more growth hormone( youth hormone) released during REM.
Did you know that aerobics does not build a stronger heart!! It builds a more enduring heart, but not a stronger one. Time and time again you see people who play basketball suddenly die from a heart attack despite being an athlete. When confronted by some form of severe stress, their hearts weren't strong enough to handle it. I strongly encourage very one engage in some king of strength training, your heart will thank you later.