Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to exercise in order to lose weight. When it comes to weight loss, the main factor to be focused on is how many calories you are consuming. As long as you are taking in less energy than your body uses on a daily basis, you will lose weight. This is sometimes referred to as ‘calories in, calories out.’
So, you’ve probably heard of the term calorie before, but I will explain to those who haven’t. A calorie is a unit of energy in which our bodies rely on to function. And of course, it makes sense that all food and beverages (minus water) are made up of these calories. When we consume food, our bodies convert it into energy so that we are able to move our muscles. Whatever energy is not used up, goes towards creating fat cells. This is the bodies way of storing it for later – similar to how mammoths build up additional fat in the winter, in order to keep themselves alive during hibernation. Though in this day and age, food is plentiful enough that humans don’t particularly need this extra energy storage. In fact, it is detrimental to our health and well-being.
In order to prevent the build-up of excess fat, the key is to balance your calorie intake and output. And in order to reduce current excess fat, your calorie intake must be lower than your output. But how do you know what these values are in the first place?
There is no completely accurate way of measuring your calorie intake and output. Though through trial and error I was able to find estimations that worked for me. There are plenty of online calculators, the best (in my opinion) being iifym – Here you will be able to figure out your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) which is your calorie output, and also get an appropriate calorie intake goal for weight loss, maintenance or building muscle. Though please do not get too aggressive with your goals and heavily restrict your calorie intake. The absolute bare minimum needed by the body is 1200 per day.
When it comes to exercising, additional calories can be be burned on top of your usual TDEE. But this extra work often becomes negated if you aren’t paying attention to your daily calorie intake! To stay on top of the tracking, I recommend downloading a food diary such as the mobile app Myfitnesspal. I myself, currently have a logging streak of over 500 days – talk about consistency!
And even though you have just found out that exercise isn’t the be-all-end-all of weight loss, I should mention that it is still very beneficial to your health. Working out releases hormones, helps clear skin, helps you get a better sleep, helps retain muscle and will speed up your weight loss when in conjunction with a calorie deficit.