Are a good diet and exercise both crucial for weight loss?

With restrictions finally lifted and summer on the way, the motivation to diet and exercise is greater now than it ever has been.

And with that comes the range of questions associated with exercise; does diet really matter? Can I just exercise and eat what I want? Does my diet really matter when I exercise?

Although I would love to say all you need to do is exercise, for the most efficient weight loss a combination of  a clean diet and exercise is the best way.

And this can be achieved in a number of ways, and doesn’t mean going on any crazy diets. Rather it is the complete opposite, and with a little willpower much easier than you might imagine.

diet and exercise

Diet and exercise go hand in hand

When we exercise your body uses the energy from the food you provide it to fuel yourself through that exercise.

When you feed your body sweets and treats, your body automatically stores these as fat reserves because naturally we are built this way in case of food shortages.

However, with the surplus of resources we now have available, if we don’t exercise our bodies will not use up these fat reserves and just keep them.

Now lets look at the alternative where you are exercising but don’t give your body the right fuel:

Lets say you are exercising 2 hours a day, but you aren’t giving your body enough energy or the right amount of energy to carry out the exercise.

You might be okay for the first day, and maybe even the second (although I highly doubt it) and by the third day your body is giving up on you because you aren’t giving it what it needs.

This is an extreme example, but the point is that if you give your body what it needs, it will give you what you want.

Alternatively if you don’t give your body what it needs, it doesn’t have the fuel or resources to deliver.

And equally if you give your body too much of what it doesn’t need, it’s going to store those reserves rather than using them, and that isn’t what you want either.

Long term gains over short term pleasure

So what is the solution to this? Well the reality is that sometimes the only person standing in your way is you.

If your long term goal is to be a healthy and happy person, but your short term self wants to eat foods that don’t benefit your body, perhaps it is time to make some changes.

An easy tip to try and help you make better food choices is to reduce the amount of choices you have to make. Let me explain.

Tip 1

If you have the option of eating healthy or unhealthy food in your home, the chances are you will go for the unhealthy food because – let’s face it – it is more tasty.

But if it was not readily available and you were hungry, you would have no choice but to eat the healthy food.

Tip 2

With the busy lives we live, another easy tip is to try and plan what you will eat beforehand and prepare those meals for when it is time to eat.

In this way you have done all the hard work of deciding, and when it comes to eating, you just get to enjoy your nice and balanced meal.

It definitely is easier said than done, but implementing these small changes can make a big difference and ensure your diet isn’t holding you back from achieving your long term goals.

Is a high protein ‘Carnivore Diet’ good for your body?

The ‘Carnivore Diet’ has been attributed by many to Shawn Baker, a former American orthopaedic doctor who promotes the diet as the best and only way to eat and live.

However, the original idea of the carnivore diet can be traced back to German writer, Bernard Moncriff who authored The Philosophy of the Stomach: Or, An Exclusively Animal Diet, in 1856.

With time and many individuals looking for alternative weight loss methods, people have tried the carnivore diet in an attempt to help with physical health, as well as mental health and autoimmune diseases.

What is the 'Carnivore Diet'?

In its basic form, a carnivore diet is a restrictive diet that only allows the consumption of animals and animal products. This would be for example meat, fish, eggs and other dairy products like milk.

In complete contrast to veganism, it excludes all other foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts and legumes.

In many cases people follow the carnivore diet to differing extremes. Some people may follow it around 70% of the time whilst others may just have a more protein based diet.

The aim with the carnivore diet is to have a zero carb diet, and is therefore seen as the next level of dieting compared to mainstream diets such as keto or paleo.

How does it affect the body over time?

The carnivore diet is marketed as being able to treat anxiety, depression, obesity, arthritis and more, but little to no research has been done on the effects of following the diet over long period of time.

In the short term, people can experience incredible weight loss results due to protein being more filling and in turn resulting in less calories being consumed.

 

A study by Lennerz and colleagues in 2021 found that those people who followed the carnivore diet experienced few negative effects and actually reported health benefits and high satisfaction.

However, many health and dietary professionals agree that the increased meat consumption can result in high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol levels in the body. And in the long term some effects may include a lacking in basic nutrients.

Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine believes in the long term it may have serious health implications including the development of a poorly functioning immune system, meaning people following the diet could catch illnesses easier.

What drives us to try these extreme diets?

In many cases people are trying to avoid the arduous task of exercising on a regular basis and trying to keep a balanced diet in order to lose weight.

Instead they give in to this ‘quick fix’ mentality that diets can sort the issue of excessive weight gain in a short space of time.

The problem with this mentality is that it is temporary and cannot be sustained over the long term. As humans our bodies naturally crave the food we restrict ourselves from, and often this can make dieting quite a miserable experience.

As well as this when we diet our bodies believe that we are going into a potentially threatening situation and instead of losing the fat, it will try to retain as much of it as possible.

 As a result, despite the initial drop in weight the body will suddenly experience a plateau and unless taken to the next ‘level’ will not display any further weight loss.

A lifestyle choice rather than a diet

Speaking from experience, it is much better to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than following a diet.

Doing even a small amount of walking a day can help with trying to shift the excess weight and help you feel better physically and mentally.

As well as this, building healthy eating habits can help create a proactive choice to remove excess sugar and saturated fats from your diet in the long-term lead to a healthy reduction in weight.

Here are 12 tips from the NHS on the best way to lose weight:

  1. Do not skip breakfast – it sets you up for the rest of the day
  2. Eat regular meals – to keep you full throughout the day
  3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg at least a minimum of 5 a day
  4. Get more active – to help you physically and mentally
  5. Drink plenty of water – so that you don’t confused thirst with hunger
  6. Eat high fibre foods – to keep you full and aid weight loss
  7. Read food labels – to understand how healthy the food is for you
  8. Use a smaller plate – to reduce portion size and avoid overeating
  9. Do not ban junk food – it only makes you crave them more
  10. Do not stock junk food – to avoid the temptation

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