Where to Go From Here
Ok, so I’ve given you a lot of information suggesting that exercise, as the sole means of creating weight loss, is relatively inefficient or even counterproductive. Here are the steps that you should take to best ensure your success.
- Determine how many calories you expend every single day. You can use ExRx’s calculator here. For best accuracy, calculate this by body fat percentage. If you don’t know your current body fat percentage you can use this helpful article by Leigh Peele.
- Reduce your calorie intake by 20% of your maintenance calories. Any time you decrease your caloric intake, it’s helpful to simultaneously increase your amount of protein in order to stay satiated. (Protein also has the higher Thermic Effect of Food out of any macronutrient, meaning your body needs to expend more energy to digest it in comparison to carbs or fats.)How much protein should you be eating on a caloric deficit? Nutritionist Alan Aragon recommends figuring out your target body weight and getting that amount in grams. For example, if you are a 200 pound woman who wants to get down to 120 pounds, consume at least 120g of protein per day.
- Once you are comfortable with counting calories, consider switching to counting macronutrients instead. Focusing on macronutrients, rather than calories calories, is a nice “hack” to disrupt the fact that people (myself included) are often translating exercise and eating into the same currency: calories. You can learn all about the basics of how to count macros here.
You’ll notice that the weight loss recommendation above makes no mention of exercise. But while you shouldn’t be factoring exercise into your caloric expenditure or intake, you should still be incorporating it as much as possible practical.
“Sure, weight is lost in the kitchen,” says Dr. Freedhoff. “But health is gained in the gyms.”